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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A funny Marx brothers film

Author: Amy from United States
1 January 2008

"Duck Soup" is a great movie for all looking for a good laugh. Full of quick wit and satire, the Marx brothers create another hilarious movie. I watched the film several times and each time there was something new to pick up on. With all the slapstick and one liners, more than one viewing is necessary. I especially liked Chico and Harpo as the spies. Harpo didn't talk, so he had many funny facial expressions. He enjoyed cutting things with his scissors. During many of his scenes in the movie, he cuts things off, like during the second lemonade stand scene; he cuts off the lemonade seller's towel, after he wipes his hands on it. The way Pinky cuts off so many things in the movie makes each scene with him very funny and actually makes the viewer wonder why he does it. The film doesn't seem to have a lot of amazing editing, cinematography or juxtaposition of images. They all seem pretty basic. This leaves more focus to the dialogue and the characters. The facial expressions of the characters are emphasized in the medium-close up. This makes the scene even funnier because the viewer can see Harpo Marx's goofy face better. Before and after each scene, the fade out/in is usually used. The soundtrack in this movie is mainly just the talking. There are a few musical numbers, with Groucho and the others singing and dancing, but no music otherwise. The film contains so many funny quotes. For example, Groucho says, "I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it." Another time he says, "Married. I can see you right now in the kitchen, bending over a hot stove. But I can't see the stove." These are just a few examples of his one-liners. The lighting of this film is definitely geared towards comedy. It maintains a high key or bright lighting throughout. This keeps the feeling happy and joyful. An example is the street vendor scene, The two characters, Pinky and the lemonade vendor, have shadowed faces, as if the sun is shining on them from almost directly above. The fact that they have hats on is emphasized by the production of shadows on their faces. There are also shadows produced behind the characters on the wall of the building. This means there must also be a lighting source facing them straight on. Since they are supposed to be outside, the key light source is from the ceiling. There are many memorable scenes in "Duck Soup". The mirror scene, where Harpo is dressed up as Groucho and they both make the same movements, is always good. The street vendor scenes are my favorite; Involving Harpo and Chico harassing the poor lemonade vendor. Another one is the last sequence, which is the war between Freedonia and Sylvania. Groucho changes costumes a few times. He wears a civil war uniform, a British guard uniform, a Boy Scout outfit, and a Davey Crockett outfit. All these scenes enhance the movie and give it it's all-star comedic reputation. Overall, this is a classic must see comedy film. You may think that since it's an older film and that it's black and white, that it wouldn't be very funny, but that is not true. It is just as funny as or funnier than many of the current comedies today.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Don't blink.You are liable to miss a laugh or two.

Author: SmileysWorld from United States
28 March 2007

Today's comedians are nothing compared to the likes of the Marx Brothers.These comedic forefathers worked harder to get a laugh in one film than today's comedians do in a career.Duck Soup is documented proof of this.They are in no less than top form here.We have Groucho,who delivers one liners with lightning quick speed,Harpo,who never uttered a word,but he never needed to,Chico,who supported Harpo with perfection,and Zeppo,who in my opinion was not particularly funny,but made a great straight man for the others.Last but not least,Margaret Dumont.Without her,the guys would have been somewhat less successful.She was practically a Marx "sister".Duck Soup has nothing to do with ducks.Duck Soup has nothing to do with soup.When you watch,you'll be too busy laughing to care.It's comedy at it's classic best.I'll end with my favorite line:"He may look like an idiot.He may talk like an idiot,but don't let that fool you.He really is an idiot."

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

did not age well

Author: arthera09 from United States
24 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I know it is a classic, but it did not flow as a movie with me. I also know that this was a different age for movies, but mainly it was not that funny. There were some really funny scenes mainly the mirror gag and the declaration of war dance number, but honestly at that point I was expecting song and dance numbers where as before that point I was not expecting any signing or dancing. I get where the humor was coming from, but it just was not funny to me. There were enough scenes that did not feel as if they belonged at all; mainly the peanut stand scenes. Also the fourth Marx brother was the most plastic performer there. Harpo was the best and would not have minded seeing more of his type of humor, but it just felt so out of place with the rest of the movie. The fact that it was short saved it from getting tiring, but it still dragged for me. I liked how the mustache was painted on. The fact that they got me a few laughs gives it a few points and then also the fact that they tried a few political jabs was interesting, but overall I felt more than a little disappointed. I really wanted to like it and having seen the mirror scene done by Lucille Ball and G. Marx I was not disappointed, but this version was funny, but as a movie not what I feel as if a modern film viewer would love.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

If only life would be as joyful as this movie.

Author: Upi Dipi from Finland
13 March 2005

Somebody on the messageboard said that this movie isn't for everyone. I couldn't disagree more.

Well, sure if you don't like old films you may not like this but Rufus T. Firefly's(Groucho Marx) one-liners are just so funny, especially when he's talking to Gloria Teasdale(Margaret Dumont). Harpo with his facial and physical expressions crowns the film as the funniest film I have ever seen.

This was my first Marx Brothers movie and now I'm completely hooked. Can't wait to see the others. I had a really hard time to make my mind on what grade I should give to this but then I decided on 9 because I'm not very fond of comedy. Though I liked this very, very much.


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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The Marx Brothers At Their Best

Author: Ryan from King of Prussia, PA
13 February 2005

The Marx Brothers. Four guys, each their own character, lead by the unmistakable Graucho Marx. With the big glasses and the grease mustache, you know him when you see him. And in Duck Soup, the Marx Brothers do what they always do, manic comedy for the entire length of the movie. The movie actually has an interesting plot, involving two neighboring countries, leading up to war over insults thrown about by the character played by Graucho. The other Marx brothers play characters who are not essential to the plot but are always in the scene. There is a big musical number in the middle of the movie about leading up to war, and how the country needs to get excited about it. There is a certain parallel to the world today, as the leaders are the ones excited by war, but never have to fight in it, until it's too late. You may have never seen Duck Soup, but I know of one scene you should all be familiar with: the mirror scene. The famous duet between Graucho and Harpo Marx, imitating each other as if they are reflections in a mirror is the crowning achievement to this very funny movie. It is old, the sound (movies with sound was in it's infancy) and video is not perfect (scratchy black and white), but it is truly a gem, one any comedy fan should see.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Just terrible

Author: jjrimell from NYC
18 May 2004

I felt embarrassed watching it. It's just not funny. OK, so there are a few scenes that have a good idea behind them, but they just didn't seem funny. I don't see how people think that this is such a great movie. It seemed to just plod along with no obvious reason of being except to allow Groucho to strut around and make stupid comments all the time. How can that be considered funny? If this really is their best work, I wont go out of my way to see the rest of their stuff. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give this a zero, and I'm being quite generous. It wasn't worth wasting the hour on watching it.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

VERY overrated

Author: Matty_01 from Sydney, Australia
8 June 2006

Being as highly rated as it is, I expected Duck Soup to be a very enjoyable and very funny film. This was not the case for me though. Although I have nothing against the people who enjoyed this film, I cannot deny how terrible I thought it was. Let me explain: Firstly the characters. I have to ask, what characters? Honestly, there seems to be absolutely no character depth at all. It's just guys walking around making jokes. Take Groucho Marx for example, all he seems to do is make insulting jokes towards people. The main problem for me is that the jokes are not funny at all. And I can admit there were lines which I thought could have been remotely funny had they only been done by a funny character. Groucho's character just seems blank to me. Then there's also Harpo Marx, who simply goes around cutting things and annoying people. He doesn't even talk. I don't see how he can even be classified as a character personally.

To be blunt, I found this movie boring. In just 20 minutes into the film, I felt so sleepy I had to go to bed. I wasn't tired before the movie nor should I have been. I didn't tire myself out that day at all, and it wasn't even late, but watching this film made me so bored I wanted to go to bed. I did watch this movie a couple of days later, just to see if I somehow missed the humour at the start and also to see if it got any funnier after wards. I didn't expect much, and I didn't get much. I found it purely boring and unfunny, but I did stay awake this time. Actually I didn't even get tired, but I simply must say that this movie is one of the most boring films I've ever seen.

Although there is good choreography in some scenes, such as the famous mirror scene, it still lacks any funny humour. It just seems to go nowhere, and the problem is, had the characters been funny, I might have enjoyed that scene more, but as it is, I say it's quite weak. As for other scenes, well most of them are just unfunny in my opinion.

This is definitely not the worst film I've seen but it may very well be the most overrated one.

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9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Not What I'd Expected from the "Brilliant" Marx Brothers

Author: bosochima from Chicago, IL
28 August 2005

I saw this movie on Turner Movie Classics. In his introduction, Robert Osborne describes how when this movie was first released it bombed at the box office and almost bankrupted its studio. Watching it over 70 years later, I can see why.

The Marx brothers have become shorthand for American slapstick comedy, something I took as a given, never having seen them in anything substantial. Now having seen them in a feature length movie, my impression of them is pretty negative. Groucho, the leader, is the only one who appears to have any talent, and although he does get off some good lines, he is mostly just an irritating schmuck. Chico is little more than an Italian stereotype. Zeppo was barely in the film. I absolutely could not stand Harpo. His mute, self-satisfied, willful destructiveness started out as just weird, but quickly turned annoying and eventually unwatchable.

I would like to know what happened between the time this film was summarily rejected by the viewing public and recently when The Library of Congress placed it on the National Film Registry to change peoples' minds about it. I'll stick with the Three Stooges.

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26 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Hopelessly dated

Author: lord_pigeon from Pigeon Hole
5 January 2003

First I have to admit that I am not a big fan of physical comedies. However, it was said to be one of the best comedies in movie history so I thought I should pay my respect and give this a try.

Duck Soup was a short movie with only about 75 minutes but I couldn't help but to look at my watch when I was only 15 minutes into it. It wasn't boring, it was irritating: it filled with characters I didn't like or care about (they reminded me of grade school bullies who like to torture people just for the fun of it); through out the movie, the Marx brothers showered the audience with jokes after jokes but I only managed to get one smile out of it and every failed attempt only made it more irritating. Maybe people found them funny in the 30's and 40 years after that but by now many people would have seen those jokes in Bugs Bunny's cartoons (I understand it is unfair to the movie since it was the original but they where done in a far more tasteful fashion).

I regretted that I have just wasted 75 minutes out of my life watching people tried to be funny. If there were ways to appreciate this movie better, please enlighten me, until then I would rather watch paint dry.

1/10 (too bad there are no negative ratings)

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Anarchic Comedy at its Best

Author: Musashi94 from United States
30 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fueled by some truly inspired gags and absolutely biting satire, Duck Soup is the Marx Brothers' best work and one of the greatest comedies of all time. The plot sees Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) become leader of the vaguely European nation of Freedonia as he plunges his country into war with the neighboring Sylvania – for no good reason – while being menaced by a pair of Sylvanian spies (Harpo Marx and Chico Marx).

As with most Marx Brothers films, the plot is pretty much an excuse for gags, one-liners and satirical observations on human society; however, this particular story gives the brothers a treasure trove of material from which to draw on. Although some of their other films can feel a bit padded, Duck Soup never feels overlong, in large part thanks to the fact that every scene is so chock full of rich comedic material.

A lot of the credit for this goes to the film's director, Leo McCarey. Although just a hired hand for Paramount comedy shorts at the time, he would go on to direct classics like Make Way for Tomorrow and An Affair to Remember. His skill as a director helps to keep the pacing brisk while also helping to get the best out of each of the brothers. McCarey is also responsible for the iconic mirror scene, which has been oft-imitated but never equaled.

One of the Marx Brothers biggest strengths is the variety of their style of humor. In comedic terms, there's a little something for everyone. Groucho with his urbane wit, Harpo for slapstick and Chico playing dim-witted tricksters. Zeppo (in his final film appearance) is also present in his usual straight-man role. Each of the brothers is arguably at their best in Duck Soup leading to hilarious set-pieces such as the legendary mirror scene to the absurdist battle scenes at the climax, with Groucho wearing a different – and ridiculous – military uniform each time the camera cuts away complete with some absolutely savage take downs of war, patriotism and the concept of heroism.

If the mark of greatness for a comedy lies in its ability to make practically anyone laugh, Duck Soup stands in my mind as one of the absolute greatest comedies of all time. Filled with wit and general hilarity, it remains one of the crown jewels of comic filmmaking.

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