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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: March 29: Duck Soup


March 29: Duck Soup

"Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale."

   I hate to admit it, but Duck Soup is the first Marx Brothers movie I have ever seen. It's not that I'm not a fan of old movies, as I love Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton (Modern Times and The General are two of my favorite films), but I just never got around to watching the Marx Brothers. So, when it came time to watch one of their films, the title that kept coming up as one of their best was Duck Soup. I had seen it on tons of lists of best films of all time and I am disappointed in myself for waiting this long to watch it. It's a terrific comedy with fast talking smart asses, physical humor, and situations you could only find in a 1933 movie. 

Shitty times lead to awesome movies.... well, it USED to

   The plot is simple- a wise-cracking "politician", Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) is given all the power in the country of Fredonia, while the neighboring Sydonia is attempting to overtake the country. Sydonia sends two spies (Harpo and Chico Marx) to uncover dirt on Firefly, in hopes of discrediting him and starting a rebellion in Fredonia. The entire thing plays out in a ridiculous fashion and it is absolutely hilarious the whole way through. So much of the film feels like a stand-up routine and jumping from one joke to another keeps the humor constant. The Marx Brothers have terrific chemistry and watching them play off of each others humor is amazing. Now you may have heard a lot of the film's jokes before, but you can't help but think it all started with Duck Soup. 

The famous "Mirror Scene" has been duplicated countless times since Duck Soup.

   Overall, Duck Soup is highly enjoyable and shows that classic comedy is still hilarious. I can't think of any comedic actor today that could pull off what any of the Marx Brothers can and it's important to keep films like these relevant. A lot of people nowadays don't even want to bother with black and white films and it's very frustrating. Films from the 20's and 30's are what made Hollywood, and so much of what we have today wouldn't be around if it weren't for what came first. Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers are all classic comedy acts that have inspired all sorts of comedy. Without them, we wouldn't have Monty Python, Mr. Bean, I Love Lucy, or even Saturday Night Live. I highly recommend anything from the time, and I hope that you can give Duck Soup, or other similar films a chance. 

The Good:
fast-paced, genius comedy that keeps you on your toes
The Better:
watching a comedy from 1933 and still being able to laugh out loud
The Sad to Say:
that comedies made today will never be anything like what came out of early Hollywood

Overall: 8.5/10

Best Quote:
the entire film is quotable and is best when delivered by one of The Marx Brothers, so watch it!


I encourage everyone to give the classic comedies a chance. Here is a list of what I would recommend (some are available on YouTube):

Modern Times
City Lights
The Gold Rush
The Great Dictator
The General
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Sherlock Jr.
The Bell Boy
The Butcher Boy

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