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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 27 April 2017
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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on 13 August 2015
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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on 30 April 2017
Great vintage comedy. Satarises America today under the Trump administration
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on 27 February 2016
very good
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on 2 April 2015
Great value!
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on 2 July 2007
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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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. With director Leo McCarey the Marx Brothers finally had a first rate director who understood how to stage and shoot the action. The Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby screenplay does one of the better jobs of integrating the various comic routines into the overall story. After an absence of two films Margaret Dumont was back where she belonged, trying to stay above the insanity with no success whatsoever. Louis Calhern is arguably the ideal villain for the Marx Brothers because in scene after scene he plays it absolutely straight, without losing his dignity or becoming laughable (similar to the marvelous job by Kitty Carlisle in "A Night at the Opera").
Final tidbit: When the town of Fredonia, New York complained about its name being used in the film (the extra "e" did not matter for some reason," Groucho shot back: "Change the name of your town, it's hurting our picture." And, as always, please remember that the correct pronunciation of Leonard's stage name is "Chick-o" not "Cheek-o." The man liked the ladies and was not a young Hispanic male.
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on 19 August 2009
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). Compare and contrast with Groucho's darkies Mel Brooks comparing and contrasting some black slaves' cool a cappella delivery of WASP Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You" with a risible choric riposte from their white-trash, red-neck, futile cowboy "betters" by, first and briefly, a decidedly unspiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", then, at more hilarious length, "De Camptown Ladies"! complete with dang-it bow-legged strutting. Genius!

Now that's what I call a genuine, deliberately offensive, riotously funny racial/musical dig (co-authored, of course, by a black comic of impeccable comic credentials, RIP, Richard Pryor).

Offence is so much more often taken than given, don't you find? So put that in your cheese and smell it!
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on 25 September 2003
To gain financial support from Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), the tiny bankrupt country of Freedonia agrees to take Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) as their new president (the poor saps). Mayhem springs from Firefly's cynical and sarcastic leadership, culminating in war with the neighboring country of Sylvania. Throughout, Pinky (Harpo Marx) and Chicolini (Chico Marx) are scheming among the great and powerful, taking money from Trentino (Louis Calhern) of Sylvania, and directing Firefly's war effort. [Black & white, created in 1933, with a running time of 70 minutes.]
This movie contains some of Groucho's funniest witticisms, his badinage with Margaret Dumont producing some of the funniest lines in theatrical history. The story takes something of a backseat to the Marx brother's comedy, but this movie is first and foremost a satire of politics in general, and war and patriotism in particular. Back to the comedy, this movie is fantastically funny, containing the famous mirror scene, where Chico is dressed as Groucho, who must figure out if he is seeing his reflection or something else!
This is a great movie. The comedy is funny and clean, and can be watched by viewers of any age. I highly recommend this movie.
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on 4 March 2005
"Duck Soup" is as absurd, nonsensical and hilarious as a film can be and still make sense! A satire of dictatorships, war and politics, Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo are at their artfully outlandish best here. Running 68 minutes, the movie is a short one, but chock-full of laughs and lampoons. Released in 1933, during the crisis period of the Depression, the movie was to provide comic relief for the weary American public. It was a flop. Audiences were taken aback by such political disrespect. This is high praise, indeed in the 21st century.
Rufus T. Firefly, played by Groucho, becomes dictator of the mythical kingdom of Freedonia, a tiny country badly in need of additional finances to alleviate their bankrupt status. In other words, the place is a disaster - or why else would they select the man who would "never belong to a club that would have someone like him as a member?" The citizens agree to make Firefly their leader hoping, in return, to gain the financial patronage of the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale, (Margaret Dumont), whose deceased husband was their former president. Firefly is touted for "possessing the statesmanship of Gladstone, the humility of Lincoln, and the wisdom of Pericles." Ha! His primary idea for improving the country involves bilking Mrs Teasdale of her fortune for his own use, forget about Freedonia! He rejoices in making arbitrary decrees, and his appointments are blatantly nepotistic. The other Marx brothers play the dictator's spies and henchmen.
Firefly declares war on its neighboring country, Sylvania, when its Ambassador Trentino, (Louis Calhern), competes with him for Mrs. Teasdale's affections. Trentino's ultimate goal is to annex Freedonia to Sylvania. Poor Mrs. Teasdale.
The film's denouement involves a battle scene which represents the madness of war and the capriciousness of the men who decide to wage them. Groucho's famous line, "And remember while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are," drew lots of flack. Benito Mussolini banned "Duck Soup" because he believed it to be a direct attack.Ya gotta love it! That's comic power! This anarchic satire, which was a critical and commercial failure at the time - it almost sank Paramount Studios - was fortunately revived in the 1960s.
The Marx Brothers' usual non-stop freneticism, as well as some of their best gags, slapstick, and one-liners, including the lemonade seller confrontation and the mirror pantomime, make this movie such a classic. There are also some terrific musical numbers, like the Freedonia Hymn, "Just Wait 'Til I Get Through With It " and the staged production number, The Country's Goin' to War."
Finally, what does "Duck Soup: mean? It was a familiar American phrase that means anything simple or easy, or alternately, a gullible sucker or pushover. Under the opening credits, four quacking ducks (the four Marx Brothers) are seen swimming and cooking in a kettle over a fire. Groucho suposedly provided the following recipe to explain the title: "Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you'll duck soup for the rest of your life."
JANA
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