Duck Soup

Ring a Ding Ding

Duck Soup (1933)

     I recently had my first experience with the Marx Brothers through Duck Soup. I’m not sure why I have avoided the comedians thus far, but I sure am glad I dove in with this one. A hilarious farce following the newly elected ruler of Freedonia; Groucho Marx flits about as an entirely inept leader while Chico and Harpo act as spies for the enemy country who cannot seem to decide which side they are on. The story is a hilarious disaster ripe with physical gags and witty dialogue. I can see how the Marx Brothers would influence future comedic writers and performers, such as Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther movies and the Three Stooges.

     Released in 1933, Duck Soup came out after Hitler and Mussolini came to power but before Americans were aware of the implications. So this flick was a colossal failure at the time for the four brothers, so much so that Paramount dropped them, leaving Irving Thalberg at MGM to pick up the team and ensure future successes. This also marks the last time Zeppo Marx would appear with the brothers on screen. He would go on to be an agent, which was probably a good move because I was not even sure who he was in Duck Soup because he differed so greatly from the goofy roles of the other three.

     Having not seen any other Marx Brother movies, I cannot attest to whether is the best or a must-see example, but I can guarantee that it will have you laughing to some degree, if not rolling on the floor.

  • Duck Soup is set for 12:30 a.m. ET Dec. 31 and Jan. 19 on TCM.
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2 Responses

  1. I think all the basic Marx comedies are “Must See.” Their abiliity to poke fun at stuffed shirts and dictators puts the audience on their side immediately.

  2. It’s a must-see. You should see their earlier films. The elephant in the pants joke and the why-a-duck routine are priceless.

    The Marx Brothers are like the The Ramones: Tell the jokes in such rapid succession that by the time somebody realizes they didn’t like that joke, their on to the next one.

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