Duck Soup (1933)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Classic comedy, mirror scene, ending battle

Humor isn't for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Duck Soup

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  November 17, 1933

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


The gang’s all here!

Freedonia needs a new leader and they are turning to Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx).  With Firefly in power, Freedonia’s rival Sylvania and its ruler Ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) is out to win Freedonia from its backer Mrs. Gloria Teasdale (Margaret Dumont).  Trentino has agents within Freedonia including dancer Vera Marcal (Raquel Torres) and Pinky (Harpo Marx) and Chicolini (Chico Marx) who are hired to find weaknesses in Firefly’s government.  As tension raise, the jokes keep coming and Firefly and his able assistant Bob Roland (Zeppo Marx) just try to keep Freedonia going.


Got a light?

Directed by Leo McCarey, Duck Soup is considered the Marx Brothers crowning achievement.  The movie initially wasn’t received very well and had an average return at the box office, but over time became a comedy classic.  The movie frequently tops “Best Of” lists for comedy and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

I have to say, that I’m not a huge fan of the Marx Brothers vaudevillian style of comedy.  The movie takes a bit to get going and as a viewer, you have to just get used to it.  Despite this, by the end of the film I was pretty invested and did find it an enjoyable ride.


I still think Harpo’s creepier without the mask

The story is just loaded with irony evolved from the Marx Brothers one-liners.  The war between the countries and how they deal with each other is a farce on politics.  Mussolini took the movie to heart and banned it in Italy because he thought it was attacking him.  Granted, the film has a short run time, and the ending really doesn’t payoff enough (though the battle is fun).

Like the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers are all about timing, and Duck Soup does have some of the best of it.  The Brothers work so well together, that it does feel a little odd when the Brothers are in scenes with other actors who struggle to keep up.  While Groucho is “the star”, I do feel that Chico holds his own in this film.  I don’t know if it is his mute character, but I’ve always been creeped-out by Harpo and his stares, and poor Zeppo feels like a straight man to his brothers’ wackiness.


The classic mirror scene

Some of the sets of Duck Soup are rather impressive but the best visuals come from the Marx Brothers themselves…their expressions and delivery just pop in the film.  The movie contains the classic mirror scene which has Groucho being mimicked by Harpo who is dressed like him.  The scene is long, soundless, but a classic and done with style.

Duck Soup is a classic that had reaching influence.  The comedy of the film has been used in cartoons and other movies so it worth seeking out if you are a fan of films.  Movies like Duck Soup are the building blocks of modern comedy and deserve to be seen.  It isn’t for everyone and it often becomes more of a stand-up than a movie, but it is fun.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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