Duck Soup

From Academic Kids

This article is about the Marx Brothers film. Duck Soup is also a 1927 Laurel and Hardy film, a 1942 short film starring Edgar Kennedy and Florence Lake, and a traditional Polish dish that is also known as czernina.
Missing image
Cover of Duck Soup DVD.

Duck Soup is a 1933 Marx Brothers anarchic comedy film written by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Arthur Sheekman, and Nat Perrin and directed by Leo McCarey. It starred what was then billed as the "Four Marx Brothers" (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) and also featured Margaret Dumont, Raquel Torres, and Louis Calhern. Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly, the dictator of the small country of Freedonia, who finds himself on the verge of war with the neighboring country of Sylvania.

McCarey came up with the title for the film. When Groucho was asked for an explanation, he said:

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.

The film was a critical and box office failure, which caused Paramount Pictures to drop the Marx Brothers. Years later Arthur Marx, Groucho's son, described Irving Thalberg's assessment of the film's failure during a National Public Radio interview:

He [Thalberg] said the trouble with Duck Soup is you've got funny gags in it, but there's no story and there's nothing to root for. You can't root for the Marx Brothers because they're a bunch of zany kooks. [Thalberg] says, 'You gotta put a love story in your movie so there'll be something to root for, and you have to help the lovers get together.'

Over time, the movie's reputation has been rehabilitated, and is now seen as a classic political farce. The film was #85 on American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Movies and #5 on its 100 Years, 100 Laughs, and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It is consistently on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films.


Famous scenes

In the "mirror scene," Harpo, dressed as Groucho, pretends to be Groucho's reflection in a missing mirror, matching and mocking his every move. Eventually, Chico, also disguised as Groucho, collides with both of them. This scene has been duplicated in many different films and genres.

In another famous scene the Marx Brothers poke fun at the Hays Code by showing a woman's bedroom and then showing a woman's shoes on the floor, a man's shoes and horseshoes. Harpo is sleeping in the bed with a horse.

One production number ridicules war by comparing nationalism to a minstrel show.

Representative quotes

  • Groucho to Vera Marquez: I could dance with you until the cows came home. On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows until you came home.
  • Groucho to Bob Rolland: Clear? Huh! Why a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can't make head or tail out of it.
    • Trentino: I'm a man of few words.
    • Groucho: I'm a man of one word - scram!"
  • Groucho to Trentino: Why, my ancestors would rise from their graves, and I'd only have to bury them again.
  • Groucho to Mrs. Teasdale: I'll see you at the theater tonight. I'll hold your seat till you get there. After that, you're on your own.
  • A riddle:
    • Groucho: Now, what is it that has four pair of pants, lives in Philadelphia, and it never rains but it pours?
    • Chico: Atsa good one. I give you three guesses.
    • Groucho: Now, let me see... has four pair of pants, lives in Philadelphia.... Is it male or female?
    • Chico: No, I no think so.
    • Groucho: Is he dead?
    • Chico: Who?
    • Groucho: I don't know. I give up.
  • Groucho to Harpo: 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 here thinking what a sucker you are.


External links

it:La guerra lampo dei Fratelli Marx


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