Category Archives: 1933

Duck Soup (1933)

I danced before Napoleon. No, Napoleon danced before me. As a matter of fact, he danced 200 years before me.

— Rufus T. Firefly

Back in Houston for a couple of days, I was surprised that the movies that I have DVRed months prior are still there. I wanted to see the benchmark Marx Brothers’ film, Duck Soup. The #220 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDb was first on my radar when it was discussed on The Last Five segment of one of my must-listen podcasts, Cinebanter. I wanted to see more classic movies than looking at the dreck coming out this year. The movie is almost eighty years old and I was laughing out loud with this flick.

The fictional country of Freedonia is on the verge of bankrupcy. In a last ditch effort to save the nation, Ms. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) outs the leader of the country and appoints an absolute baffoon named Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). The news does not sit well with Ambassador Trestino (Louis Calhern) of rival country Sylania wants to take over both countries. He conspires with the famous dancer, Vera Marcal (Raquel Torres) to find some sort of dirt on the new leader to oust him. Trestino’s master plan is to seduce Ms. Teasdale for her money and seize control of the country.

Firefly tries to shake up the way that the government has been run that put them into debt in the first place. A couple members of Firefly’s cabinet have resigned from the post. Feelings the pressure that run a country would get. Firefly randomly takes a peanut vendor off the street, Chicolini (Chico Marx) to make his new Secretary of War when Trestino tries to instigate a war between the two countries. What Firefly doesn’t know that Chicolini is working for the other side with Pinky (Harpo Marx) as spies. Hilarity ensues.

I was surprised how much that I laughed in this movie. I’m not saying that the movie is all good. I thought there was some gags that fell flat especially with Harpo doing his bits with the Lemonade Stand Guy (Edgar Kennedy). I was checking to see when the next scene would happen. I thought that Groucho’s witty quips was the best things about the movie. Lastly, the musical interludes were a bit jarring for me. Where the hell did they come from?

Judgment: If you want to see a solid slapstick comedy, check this out.

Rating: ***1/2

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