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Duck Soup, starring the Marx Brothers

DVD Review of Duck Soup, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

Duck Soup, starring the Marx Brothers

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Overview of Duck Soup, starring Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo

When asked to explain the movie title, Groucho said, “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you – „¢ll duck soup for the rest of your life.” Start with excellent production and direction. Add the Marx brothers (Groucho,  Chico,  Harpo  and the long-suffering  Zeppo), add the ultimate straight person (Margaret Dumont), stir well and you – „¢ll be serving  Duck Soup.

Yes, that – „¢s a silly description, but it – „¢s a silly movie. A wonderful, hilarious, utterly enjoyable silly movie. The plot (which is probably the least important part of a  Marx Brothers  movie) is that the tiny nation of  Freedonia  is in dire financial straights. Mrs. Teasdale (the wonderful, under appreciated  Margaret Dumont) is willing to loan the government the money it needs, on the condition that it names  Rufus T. Firefly(Groucho Marx  at his finest, with his brother  Zeppo  as Groucho – „¢s secretary) as immediate president. The leader of a neighboring nation sends spies (Chico  and  Harpo), and hilarious insanity ensues.

It – „¢s a wonderful movie,  spoofing pomp & circumstance  (the ¢â‚¬Ëœregal – „¢ introduction of Firefly must be seen to be appreciated), politics, war, and numerous other things. It includes some of the Marx brothers – „¢ best-loved routines, including the  famous ¢â‚¬Ëœmirror – „¢ routine  (a mirror breaks, and Harpo imitates Groucho, move for move, to postpone the discovery of the broken mirror).

This movie is also available as part of  The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection.

Editorial review of  Duck Soup courtesy of Amazon.com:

Duck SoupFor those who love the Marx Brothers (Animal Crackers,  A Night at the Opera), that this movie is side-slappingly funny is a given. For those new to the Marx Brothers, this is the perfect introduction to Groucho, Chico, and Harpo (and even Zeppo), three of the funniest men to ever grace the screen. Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is the dictator of the small nation Freedonia. The country is a disaster, in financial disrepair, and the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) is its benefactor and the object of Firefly’s shrewd affection. When the leader of the neighboring Sylvania decides he’s in love with Mrs. Teasdale, Firefly declares war. The movie, from 1933, is tremendously satirical, a play on politics and war. (As Firefly says to a hapless young solider, “You’re a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you’re out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we’ll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.”) Full of witty lines, great sight gags, and even some snazzy song numbers (“Freedonia’s Going to War” is the hilarious declaration of battle), this is surely one of the best–if not  the  best–the Marx Brothers have to offer.  –Jenny Brown

Product description of  Duck Soup

This political satire starring Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo Marx is often considered the Brothers’ funniest and most popular film. After being appointed dictator of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) proceeds to bring the mythical nation to a halt by showing up late and insulting everyone at his inauguration. Hoping to oust the unfit new leader, two spies (Harpo and Chico) are sent from the neighboring Sylvania. Soon enough, war is declared between the two nations with outrageous results. So funny it earned spot on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list.

Trivia about Duck Soup:

  • Shortly before this film premiered, the city of  Fredonia, New York, complained about the use of its name with an additional “e”. The Marx Brothers – „¢ response was: “Change the name of your town, it – „¢s hurting our picture.”
  • The mirror trick was previously used in  Charlie Chaplin – „¢s  The Floorwalker  (1916).
  • During the battle scene,  Groucho  wore five different uniforms: A Union soldiers uniform, a Confederate general – „¢s uniform, a boy scout troop leader – „¢s uniform, a Revolutionary War-era British general – „¢s uniform, and a Davy Crockett outfit.
  • Edgar Kennedy  delivers his famous “slow burn” in a minor role as a street vendor. In 1942 he played the lead in a short of his own also called “Duck Soup”.
  • This film marks the last appearance of  Zeppo  in a Marx Brothers film. He opted to work behind the scenes from then on.
  • Italian dictator  Benito Mussolini banned the film  from Italy because he thought it was a direct attack on him. When news of this reached the  Marx Brothers, they were reportedly ecstatic.
  • Despite the fact that this is considered the finest film the  Marx Brothers  ever made, it was a  box office flop  when first released and nearly ruined Paramount Pictures.
  • This was  Zeppo – „¢s final film  with the brothers; not due to lack of talent, but he simply couldn – „¢t compete with the on-screen antics of his brothers. This is the same reason that  Harpo  doesn – „¢t speak on screen; he can – „¢t compete in the verbal jousting between  Groucho  and  Chico.
  • Chico  is pronounced Chick-o, because he liked to chase the ladies (“chicks” in the slang of the time) – €it – „¢s only because of a typo years before that Chico became his stage name.

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