2 items from 2015
Duck Soup, 1933.
Directed by Leo McCarey.
Freedonia and Sylvania are forced into war due to the insults of Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) and the spies of Sylvania (Chico and Harpo Marx).
When told about the Marx brothers, I often think of Groucho. Until I watched Duck Soup, I didn’t know what his shtick even was. Were they silent comics, akin to Chaplin and Keaton? Did they transcend the talkie-divide like Laurel and Hardy? Were they lightning-fast talkers, in the same vein as Woody Allen or Henry Youngman? It turns out that the family of the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo – are a bit of everything. Each sibling either prefiguring or directly influenced-by a specific comic of the past. Chico, the smart-talking but not-so-clever one. Harpo, the physical silent one. »
- Simon Columb
A pun is a word that doesn’t mean what it says, or rather, means what it says but also means something else. It is a signpost bearing the same destination, but pointing in two directions.
The longest pun-free period in Duck Soup is at the beginning, after the unsettling opening shot of ducks paddling in a cauldron over a hot fire. We are in the majestic council chamber of the government of Freedonia. A meeting is in session. Zander, the president, is asking the wealthy Mrs Gloria Teasdale, widow of the late Chester V Teasdale, for a further $20m, so that he can announce an immediate reduction in taxes. Mrs Teasdale, played by the redoubtable Margaret Dumont, complains »
- Craig Brown
2 items from 2015
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