Release date: Nov. 17, 1933
Directed by: Leo McCarey
Starring: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres, Edgar Kennedy
Box office: n/a
After Rufus T. Firefly is appointed ruler of Freedonia, Ambassador Tetrino of the neighboring nation of Sylvania plots to take over.
The last Marx Brothers film to feature Zeppo, Duck Soup takes the premise of an unprincipled nobody coming into power as the ruler of an entire nation and runs with every absurd situation resulting from Firefly’s tenure. What results is a film light on story, but full of great comedic moments leaving audiences glued to their seats to see just what the Marx brothers do next. Still, what story there is happens to be a pretty interesting and fascinatingly scathing commentary of the regimes coming into power during 1930s Europe.
There isn’t one failed joke or mistimed attempt at humor in this film either. From the first scene it launches into an enjoyable assault of humor that doesn’t let up until the very end. Whether it’s two characters going back and forth sharing witty insults, Lieutenant Roland constantly trying and failing to reign in Firefly as the film’s straight man or all the visual gags put on by Harpo and Chico, every moment of humor lands perfectly before launching straight into the next gag. The most notable and memorable moments of humor come from Chicolini and Pinky harassing the owner of a lemonade stand to visible rage along with the mirror scene.
The acting is what assists in making all of it work, too. From Groucho’s ability to deliver all of his witticisms and comebacks as if he fully believes them to Zeppo’s believability in coming off as the longsuffering secretary to Firefly, no performance in this film feels as if the actor was not invested in their role. Calhern as Trentino also does will in presenting the viewer with a conniving ambassador who keeps getting flustered in how Firefly constantly and consistently upstages him.
This film is a definite must see, full of jokes to eke a chuckle out of even the grumpiest of upstarts.
National Film Preservation Board, USA
- National Film Registry
Online Film & Television Association
- OFTA Film Hall of Fame - Motion Picture
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards
- Best DVD/Blu-Ray Collection (As a part of the "Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection")
- Best DVD Collection (As a part of the "Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection".