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Author Topic: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers  (Read 1307 times)

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Offline metaldams

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Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
« on: December 07, 2014, 08:01:10 PM »
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  • http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023969/?ref_=nv_sr_1



    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UjW4kjXiLgo

    Watch the full movie in the link above.

          Before I get into the meat of this thing, for any of you guys and occasional gal who wants to do an interesting double feature, pair this one up with the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy, DIPLOMANIACS (1933).  It's just as bizzare, it's a political satire, it's from the same year, and they both even have Louis Calhern in fairly similar roles.  Search for it on DVD.  By the way, it also has one short Stooge ladies Marjorie White (WOMAN HATERS), and Phyllis Barry (THREE LITTLE SEW AND SEWS).

          Now that the commercial is done, let's discuss DUCK SOUP.  Part of me wants to say it's DUCK SOUP, if you've seen it, you already know how great it is.  If you have never seen a Marx Brothers movie, start here.  This is as pure comedy as you are ever going to get in a Marx Brothers film.  There are musical numbers, but they are all comical.  Chico and Harpo have no instrumental solos, and there is no romantic subplot whatsoever.  Starting next week we dive into the MGM era, and the frills will be incorporated more into each film, but not this week.

          I don't want to get too political, as I like to keep my comedy and politics separate, but sometimes it's unavoidable.  DUCK SOUP is a blatantly political film.  As a commentary on war, it's brilliant.  First off, the reason they go to war has nothing to do with national defense and everything to do with the egos of two leaders from Fredonia and Sylvania.  Firefly is called an upstart by Trentino, Firefly slaps Trentino with a glove, both men's egos are bruised, and a war begins.  Not exactly a valid reason to send your son off to die, but therein lies the commentary.  How does the war end?  Why, at the end of the film, Trentino's head is stuck in the door and the brothers get to throw produce at him.  Forget the fact there are civilians from both sides fighting each other, Firefly has Trentino trapped, war is over.  The Fredonia going to war musical bit shows the ridiculous nature of civilians reacting to war.  Want commentary on who holds the true power?  That would be Margaret Dumont's Ms. Teasdale.  She is the one with the money, and Firefly gains power at her insistence because the only way the government gets her money is if Firefly is appointed leader.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

          OK, politics out of the way, there's a ton of great pure comedy in this one.  The scenes with Harpo, Chico, and Edgar Kennedy are comic gold.  Edgar Kennedy is to Laurel and Hardy fans what Bud and Vernon are to Stooge fans.  A shame Edgar didn't get a shot with The Three Stooges. He is known for his slow burn reaction and puts it to great use here.  Laurel and Hardy have a famous routine where each character has their own respective hat being put on the wrong head, and as they try to get the correct hat on, they'll find a lot of different ways for the wrong hat to continue to be worn.  Harpo and Chico milk this gag intentionally with Edgar Kennedy in several variations, only for poor Edgar's hat to end up in a fire!  For those of you that haven't seen this I won't give the gag away, but what Harpo does to Edgar's lemonade stand in retaliation for having his peanut stand destroyed is one of my all-time favorite comic visuals.  Really funny stuff.

          After two films with Thelma Todd, Margaret Dumont is back, and Groucho gets to be more blatantly money grubbing and giggiloisgh than ever!  Watching those two work together is always a pleasure, and we even get Ms. Raquel Torres, a younger, gorgeous Latin lady who wears really shiny gowns across her curvaceous figure.  Groucho gets a few good sexual lines with her as well, so we get to see both Groucho the giggilo and Groucho the perv in one setting! It's like the best of both worlds.

          We also have the classic mirror scene between both Groucho and Harpo.  The rehearsal it must take to do such a scene must be Hell, but the results are well worth it.  Another all time classic scene, and later done with Harpo and Lucille Ball, and to a lesser extent, Curly and The Wolf Man in IDLE ROOMERS.

          The Hail Fredonia build up song to introduce Groucho is another highlight.  They go through this huge ordeal with hundreds of people lined up perfectly, ballerinas throwing pedals on the ground, swords raised in a perfect arch for Groucho to walk under, a song sung in ten million part harmony, and how does Groucho repay them?  He over sleeps his entrance, quickly gets out of his pajamas, and enters the receiving line in the wrong spot.  Now that's my kind of lack of reverence.  That kind of attitude would completely disappear at MGM.  For the better or worse?  We'll get to that next week.

          What we won't get to next week or any other week is Zeppo. This is his final appearance as a Marx Brother, at least professionally.  He's not given all too much to do here, so you can understand his disillusion.  I understand he made out very well in life financially, so it probably wasn't a total loss for him.

          The final "battle" scene is another favorite of mine.  I love the way Chico switches sides back and forth, coming back to Fredonia because the food is better.  I also love the way the uniforms the brothers are wearing change from shot to shot.  This kind of lack of continuity would be a staple of a film makers years later, except The Marx Brothers do it on purpose!

          A true classic.  If you haven't seen it, make it the next film you see.

    10/10
    « Last Edit: January 17, 2015, 07:58:06 AM by metaldams »

    Offline QuinceHead

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    Re: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
    « Reply #1 on: December 07, 2014, 09:39:30 PM »
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  • I always loved the fact that the residents of Fredonia, New York, protested Duck Soup because they feared that the similar-sounding nation of Freedonia would hurt their city's reputation. The Marx Brothers, in response, told them to change the name of their town to keep from hurting their movie!  ;D

    For duty and humanity,
    JohnH aka QuinceHead

    Offline QuinceHead

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    Re: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
    « Reply #2 on: December 07, 2014, 09:45:54 PM »
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  • "Remember, you're fighting for this woman's honor, which is probably more than she ever did."

    "I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it."

    Mrs. Teasdale: Notables from every country are gathered here in your honor. This is a gala day for you.
    Rufus T. Firefly: Well, a gal a day is enough for me. I don't think I could handle any more.

    Mrs. Teasdale: Oh, your Excellency!
    Rufus T. Firefly: You're not so bad yourself.

    Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, uh, I suppose you would think me a sentimental old fluff, but, uh, would you mind giving me lock of your hair?
    Mrs. Teasdale: A lock of my hair? Wh-why, I had no idea.
    Rufus T. Firefly: I'm letting you off easy: I was going to ask for the whole wig.

    Mrs. Teasdale: I've sponsored your appointment because I feel you are the most able statesman in all Freedonia.
    Rufus T. Firefly: Well, that covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself! You'd better beat it; I hear they're going to tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing!

    For duty and humanity,
    JohnH aka QuinceHead

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
    « Reply #3 on: December 07, 2014, 09:55:49 PM »
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  • I always loved the fact that the residents of Fredonia, New York, protested Duck Soup because they feared that the similar-sounding nation of Freedonia would hurt their city's reputation. The Marx Brothers, in response, told them to change the name of their town to keep from hurting their movie!  ;D

    For duty and humanity,
    JohnH aka QuinceHead

    I just heard that story for the first time today, and it is a funny one!  Speaking of hurting their movie, hard to believe DUCK SOUP wasn't appreciated in its time.

    My favorite Marx Brothers story involves one of their later movies, I'll be sure to bring it up the week we discuss the film for sure.

    Offline Larrys#1

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    Re: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
    « Reply #4 on: December 08, 2014, 07:49:06 AM »
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  • We finally get to DUCK SOUP, which is IMHO, the BEST Marx Bros film. It's a short movie, but it's funny from beginning to end. It's interesting seeing a straight woman like Margaret Dumont having such high regards for someone like Groucho, and to the point of appointing him leader of a country. Now that is just messed up, but that's what it so hilarious about this movie.

    I do complain a lot about musical numbers, but even though this movie has a lot of them, it doesn't bother me one bit. It's hard to describe, but the music here just fits. I guess it's because it's not a romance type musical and it's the kind of music that is blended well with the comedy. And another interesting thing to note is the omission of Chico and Harpo's solo instrument bits. This movie and ROOM SERVICE are the only movies where they don't play their instruments. I don't know why they chose to omit it here, but it doesn't bother me at all.

    There are sooo many great parts in this film. Chico and Harpo in Trentino's office was great. Chico always cracks me up when he says, "Tuesday we go to the ballgame, but he fool us. He no show up. Wednesday, he go to the ballgame, but we fool him. We no show up." And then there is the famous peanut stand scene with Chico, Harpo and Edgar Kennedy. Now this is my favorite part. Seeing Chico and Harpo do their famous fighting bit and then annoy the hell outta Edgar... that cracks me up every time. Then Chico trying to explain to Edgar about why they're fighting. That is so funny. There's another scene at the peanut stand with Harpo and Edgar; another funny one ....and notice that the whole scene has no talking. It's just incredible how well Harpo and Chico work well with Edgar. It's just a shame he wasn't in more of the Marx films.

    And I really like the scene where Chico and Harpo try to sneak in and steal the plans of war and they put on a grease painted mustache and pretend to be Groucho. Another part where Chico makes me laugh is when he tells Dumont, "well you see maybe sometime I go to Italy and I'm practicing the language." It always cracks me up how Chico fixes himself up to look like Groucho but makes absolutely no effort to change his accent.

    Then the famous mirror scene. Another great silent comedy bit. Then the war scene. That was one chaotic and hilarious scene. Zeppo actually gets a funny line when he tells Groucho that he's shooting his own men. And then Chico doing that "one zell, two zell, three zell, zam" to see which one gets to sacrifice his life for his country and then it keeps picking him and he's like, "oh it did it wrong" and then when he picks himself again, he's like, "it's a no good too." And an interesting thing to point out is that the "one zell, two zell" bit was done by the stooges as well in BOOBS IN ARMS.

    I can't imagine anyone not giving this a perfect score. In fact, it shocks me that this flopped at the box office in 1933.  How can anyone not like this film? This is as good as comedy can get.

    10/10

    Offline Shemp_is_Awesome78

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    Re: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
    « Reply #5 on: December 17, 2014, 06:35:28 PM »
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  •    What can I say? It's The Marx Brothers at their finest. There's nothing more I can say. It's THE MARX BROTHERS!! All their work is funny, no matter how they play their characters or what studio they're at. But, this is probably the best one of their works.
      My all-time favorite movie scene is the " We're going to war!" musical number. My favorite part of the number is Hidey hidey hidey ho! That never gets old,  no matter how many times you watch it.
      This is the first movie I watched of the Brothers, and to this day, I still appreciate it and it's one of my top 5 movies of all time.
      Now, Harpo does such a good job as a mime that I just can't say anything about it. Chico, Harpo, and Edgar Kennedy is like the best trio of all time ( besides these three lunatics  [stooges] I love the Never-Ending Hat Routine taken straight from Laurel and Hardy's 1927 film, Do Detectives Think? ( Which I believe Edgar Kennedy is in, too.)
      And, Zeppo actually is good this time around. I don't know what it is with me and Zeppo, it's just I feel like they just brought him in to make love with Thelma Todd and Margaret Dumont. His life could've been a little bit better if he only made 1 or 2 films with the 3 Brothers.
      Gummo could've made a perfect fit playing Edgar Kennedy's role, but I'm probably only saying that because I REALLY want to see Gummo on camera. Cause he looks freaking awesome.
      [focus]
      Well, this movie is awesome, and Groucho does so, so well at playing a character like Rufus T. Firefly. One of the best moments in this film is when they hold a big ceremony for Rufus's arrival right when he lands in the wrong place saying, " Who are we waiting for?"
      Chico is good as always. Chico is a great straight man to Harpo, and Harpo is a good comic to Chico. They could've made it out as a double-act, because their chemistry is flawless. Y'know, something like Laurel and Hardy. People say that Laurel could've never spoke and he would still be funny. Well, what about Marx and Marx? Harpo is awesome because he doesn't speak, huh? Huh? No. No...
      The supporting cast is amazing, and I don't know how the " Hidey hidey hidey ho!" people kept a straight face. YOU try doing it without laughing at how insane the thing you're doing is.
      Well, I rate this movie 1,000,000 out of 5 stars. In other words, GO SEE IT!!!!!!!!!!! Well, have a nice day!
    Abbottt: Stop smoking in here, Costello!
    Costello: What makes you think I'm smoking?
    Abbott: You have a cigar in your mouth!
    Costello: I got my shoes on, but I'm not walking!

    Offline Shemp_Diesel

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    Re: Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers
    « Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 09:01:34 PM »
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  • Late to the party as usual, but I had not seen this in years. I forgot how great it was--hard to say if it's their greatest; I still vaguely remember A Night at the Opera and "hard boiled eggs." At any rate, this movie apparently flopped & they moved to MGM, where the hardcore Marx fans still debate the varying degrees of those films.

    Getting back to Duck, this might be shorter than it's predecessors, running about 68 minutes. Groucho's intros are usually great & his instant disgust at his rival, the ruler of Sylvania--the deck of cards. The running gag with the sidecar is great, peanuts, Harpo jumping into the lemonade & how could I forget the great line "Be sure to wash your neck."

    Not too much wrong with this one. Maybe the deletion of the usual Chico and Harpo solos wasn't so bad this time or for Room Service.

    9/10...

    Now you ask me if I believe a man can become a wolf. Well, if you mean can he take on the physical characteristics of an animal, no, it's fantastic. However, I do believe that most anything can happen to a man in his own mind.