The Best Movies: “Duck Soup” – The Marx Brothers at Their Zaniest

Groucho in the epic last scene of "Duck Soup"

"Duck Soup" is the funnest movie I've ever seen. It also has had the most raucous crowd of any movie I've seen at both the Brattle Theater and the Coolidge Cornter Theater. The movie is number 68 on AFI's top 100 movies and it comes in at number 5 on AFI's Funniest Movies list

Classic Movies gives quick summary:

The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup is a frantic, funny satire with rapid-fire gags and some of the most inspired physical comedy ever to hit the screen. Now considered a comic masterpiece, the movie underperformed with critics and the box office when it came out in 1933, skewering fascism, petty dictators and warmongering. Time has proven it the best of the Marx Brothers' movies.

It Is Great Political Satire

The Great Movie Project talks about how it was hilarious, but it is also one of the most effective political satire movies ever made:

With all the satire laced through Duck Soup, it grows on me more with each viewing.  The fact that The Marx Brothers made a film filled with such silly cynicism toward government and war during the era of both the great depression and Hitler’s rise was very bold.  There are scenes poking fun at smaller government leaders and how government and diplomacy can be handled so absurdly.  Chico’s trial scene depicts a broken legal system.  And the fact the war is started over an insult, Trentino calling Firefly an “upstart,” illustrates how petty and meaningless war can be.
If you’re worried about being bogged down in political satire, do not worry, it is all very light and there is plenty more simple fun with no hidden agenda.  In fact, this is where some of my favorite scenes that keep me laughing the most come from.  Harpo’s goofy fight with the man selling lemonade makes me lose control by the end.  And the mirror scene, even though it is completely silent, always captivates and throws me into a fit of happy giggles.

Great Scenes

Here's a few of the great scenes in the film.

Groucho Being Hard on Mrs. Teasdale – Ouch!

There's a real edge to alot of Groucho's humor. Here's a great example with the video below.

Rufus T. Firefly: Not that I care, but where is your husband? 
Mrs. Teasdale: Why, he's dead. 
Rufus T. Firefly: I bet he's just using that as an excuse. 
Mrs. Teasdale: I was with him to the very end. 
Rufus T. Firefly: No wonder he passed away. 
Mrs. Teasdale: I held him in my arms and kissed him. 
Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, I see, then it was murder. Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first. 

The Mirror Scene

The Cross Examination


The Trailer

The pace on this matches the movie.