Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wendy's Films of 2010 #101: Duck Soup (1933)

The Marx Brothers are pretty renowned for having a high standard of classic slapstick and intelligent quick-talking humour. Most people would at least recognize Groucho, even if they couldn't name him on the spot. I only remember bits and pieces of my first Marx Brothers movie, Horse Feathers, but I remember having fun, and that's what comedy's all about. Duck Soup was the last of the Marx Brothers films to feature all four brothers: Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo. In it, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) becomes president of Freedonia after the excessively rich Mrs. Teasdale declares she won't provide money for the bankrupt country until Firefly is in office. His antics include insulting Teasdale without hesitation while simultaneously flattering in an attempt to gain her fortune, appointing a street vendor Secretary of War, and starting a war with neighbouring Sylvania. One of my favourite scenes is depicted in the picture above, where Harpo's character perfectly mimics Firefly, convincing him he's looking into a mirror. Each movement is perfectly timed and executed, and it has been (as Wikipedia tells me) copied by several other comics including The Three Stooges, Bugs Bunny and the crew from Family Guy.

The film is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of classic, black and white comedy from a time when being funny was a talent and not a Hollywood-devised calculation.

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