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The Marx Brothers: Duck Soup [DVD]

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: The Marx Brothers, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx
  • Directors: Leo McCarey
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Subtitles: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, Russian
  • Dubbed: French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Feb. 2005
  • Run Time: 65 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000795LDA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,955 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

The Marx Brothers' fifth feature is a zany political satire, which so offended Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini that the film was banned in Italy. Appointed president of Freedonia under the patronage of the wealthy Mrs Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) sets about starting a war with neighbouring Sylvania. To this end he trades insults with Sylvanian ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern), unaware that Trentino's spies Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo) are already working to bring down Freedonia from within! The Marxes' final film for Paramount includes the classic mirror sequence, and was also the last to feature Zeppo, who - dissatisfied with his role as straight man to his three siblings - subsequently embarked on a successful career as an agent.

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For those who love the Marx Brothers (Animal Crackers, A Night at the Opera), that this movie is side-slappingly funny is a given. For those new to the Marx Brothers, this is the perfect introduction to Groucho, Chico, and Harpo (and even Zeppo), three of the funniest men to ever grace the screen. Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is the dictator of the small nation Freedonia. The country is a disaster, in financial disrepair, and the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) is its benefactor and the object of Firefly's shrewd affection. When the leader of the neighboring Sylvania decides he's in love with Mrs. Teasdale, Firefly declares war. The movie, from 1933, is tremendously satirical, a play on politics and war. (As Firefly says to a hapless young solider, "You're a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you're out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.") Full of witty lines, great sight gags, and even some snazzy song numbers ("Freedonia's Going to War" is the hilarious declaration of battle), this is surely one of the best--if not the best--the Marx Brothers have to offer. --Jenny Brown

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A classic of anarchic comedy. I bought it to get the DVD version. Luckily, no ducks were harmed in the making of this film. My sympathy and admiration for Margaret Dumont knows no bounds!
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Rather more chaotic than Night at the Opera or Horse Feathers and now seriously dated by the long obsolete political satire
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Great vintage comedy. Satarises America today under the Trump administration
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very good
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Great value!
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Format: DVD
You must watch Duck Soup for some of the most classic comedy scenes set to film such as ;

1) The mirror sequence. The finest comic sequence ever committed to film. Sure, it's old-hat vaudeville, but it's professional, beautifully timed and spirals into wonderful absurdity.

2) The one-liners, puns and other jokes. Pick of the crop are the peanut stall interchange, the telephone sequence, the riddles ('what has four pairs of pants, lives in Philadelphia, and it never rains but it pours?') and the final battle (especially the stock footage of monkeys and elephants running to save the army under siege - the kind of thing the Zucker Bros pinched for their comedies). Oh, yes, and the motorcycle routines.

3) The satire on politics and warmongering. The Brothers simply deflate the pomposity of the whole deal.

4) The fact that Zeppo is actually given something to do.

Anybody who thinks the Farrelly and Wayans brothers are the last word in comedy should be strapped to a chair and shown Marx Bros films over and over again, until they concede.
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Format: VHS Tape
My favorite Marx Brothers movie is "A Night at the Opera," but this political satire, which was banned in Italy by Mussolini, is a very close second. It is definitely the best (and last) Marx Brothers movie with Zeppo, for what that is worth. As Groucho later pointed out, Zeppo's roles as the group's straight man were thankless. It was not that Zeppo lacked talent, but rather that he had three older brothers.
"In Duck Soup," the mythical nation of Freedonia is in trouble and Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) insists that the reigns of power be turned over to Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho). Ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) of the neighboring country of Sylvania employs a couple of spies, Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo), to shadow Firefly. Oh, and Firefly has a secretary, Bob Rolland (Zeppo). Many of the most famous sequences by the Brothers Marx are found in this film: (1) The mirror sequence between Groucho and Harpo (if it had been Groucho and Chico instead Groucho would have asked "Are you my reflection" and Chico would have answered "Sure"); (2) Harpo's encounter with street vendor Edgar Kennedy, master of the slow-burn (" "); (3) The "We're Going to War" take off on 1930s musicals ("They've got guns, we've got guns, all God's chil'en got guns"); (4) Groucho offering Chico the position of Secretary of War ("Sold!"); (5) Harpo offering Grouch a ride in the sidecar of his motorcyle ("This is the third trip I've taken today and I still haven't gone anywhere"); (6) Zeppo introducing the new leader of Freedonia, Rufus T. Fireflay ("Whatever it is, I'm against it."); and much, much more, including the lovely Rachel Torres as the lovely Vera Marcal!
"Duck Soup" was helped by several factors.
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Format: DVD
This film is sheer, surrealist joy, the Marx Bros at their wildest and most creative. Which equals the funniest stuff you're ever going to experience this side of Aristophanes (to whom there is an unbroken line, via Shakespeare and Swift, from the Brothers - and probably to Spike Milligan and Python in the other direction).

Duck Soup is sublime: it should not be subjected to ridiculous misinterpretation of the sadly mistaken kind when it's already so gleefully, consciously, seriously intellectually subversive of its own accord. So I'm going to address one joke idiotically singled out elsewhere.

The "darkies" shtick debated below has nothing whatsoever to do with race. It's typical, joyous verbal dexterity from Groucho, offering a non-sequitur (here a familiar song refrain) as a logical conclusion to preceding clauses.

Unlike any hilarity to be gained from irrelevant and prolix reviews, the Marx joke is intentional - structural, grammatical; as in so many other examples, like "What is it that lives in Philadelphia and it never rains but it pours?" or "You no-a fool me, there is no Sanity Clause!" and so, gloriously, timelessly, exquisitely, on.

Can't you see what I'm trying to tell you? I love you!
Your Excellency!
You're not so bad yourself!

If you're determined to find musical/racial jokes to get your French Knickers in a twist, here's what to look for. It may help with the convoluted (sadly unintentionally funny) logic of future doctoral faeces (sorry, theses).
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