Monday, December 12, 2016

Duck Soup (1933)

Directed by: Leo McCarey
Run Time: 68 minutes

A cynical political satire preformed by four madmen and no ducks were harmed or made into soup. Which is kind of expected with the level of madness that is the Marx Brothers. For those who know nothing about the Marx Brothers here is a hasty and quick summary of them. First is Gummo Marx, he never made the transition from Vaudeville to film but he was part of the Marx Brothers so I am mentioning him. Next is Zeppo Marx, he played a straight man non comedic role. This movie is the last film he will appear in. There is Chico Marx who plays a comedic stereotype of slow witted Midwestern Americans. Harpo Marx has a mop of curly blonde hair and doesn't say a word. Instead he uses horns and other noise making devices a lot. Finally there is Groucho Marx with his bushy mustache and acidic wit. If you have even seen an episode of MASH where Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is acting comedic and he is paying homage to Groucho Marx. Now that's out of the way on to the plot of this movie.

There isn't one. In it's place there is a frame work that moves the comedy sketches forward and keeps the film from devolving into utter madness. Anyways, the story takes place in Freedonia. A country that has mismanaged itself into financial problems and the only person that can save the country is the widowed Mrs. Teasdale. She will bail the country out but they have to make Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) as the president. So farewell to the old president and hello to the disaster that is Rufus' presidency.

The neighboring country Sylvania would also like the vast wealth of the widowed Mrs. Teasdale. However Mrs. Teasdale is smitten with Rufus T. Firefly and the leader of Sylvania is not going to put up with this. To discredit and destroy Rufus, the leader of Slyvania hires Chico and Harpo  to be spies and saboteurs in Freedonia. Instead the two of them manage screw up every assignment. Worse, Rufus lead Freedonia to war through incompetence and a musical number. That's all there is for plot.

The rest of this movie is Groucho being an amusing troll with with sharp and acidic wit. Zeppo setting up jokes for Groucho, and Chico and Harpo are being amusing and insane while preforming humorous physical comedy. The other thing about the comedy preformed in this movie is that comedy still works after eighty years. A fair amount of the jokes in the movie can be classified as Dad jokes (jokes that are loaded with cheese but can be told around children) but they are funny. If you have a chance to watch this madness in film form please do so. It's an entertaining ride.

MVT: Rufus talking about easy this war thing is until someone points out that the people he had been shooting were his own troops.

Make or Break: What makes this movie is the humor is not forced. The Marx Brothers make being funny and entertaining look like the easiest thing to do.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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