Thursday, June 7, 2007

Duck Soup (1933)

Directed by Leo McCarey. Starring the Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont.

The Marx brothers were probably the greatest comedy team of the sound era, and in my opinion this is their greatest film, since unlike so many of their other features this one isn't diluted by soggy romantic subplots. This one finds Groucho as the clueless newly-appointed leader of a country called Freedonia, with Harpo and Chico spying on him for the opposition, but really that's just an excuse for each to play to his unique gifts (verbal dexterity, ethnic comedy, and silent-film slapstick, respectively). Many classic bits here, but my favorite has to be mirror sequence, a wonderfully-sustained piece of comic filmmaking that goes on far longer than it has any right to. DUCK SOUP was a flop when it was first released, but audiences now (correctly) recognize its genius.

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