Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

This is the third Marx Brothers film that I've seen, and I found it to be the weakest.

Both MGM's A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races had a strong plot with the brothers as the good guys, making it easy to root for them.

Here however, Groucho is an anarchist prime-minister bent on engineering war, while Harpo and Chico really aren't even attempting to be enemy spies. Everyone tells me that the Paramount films were their glory days, but on the basis of this one I'll take some more convincing.

Why, sure I've missed the point. The Marx Brothers were breaking all the rules by confounding this viewer's preconceptions of what a film 'should' contain. And on this score I must congratulate them – even I could never quite get 'into' this movie.

That said, there are excellent gags a'plenty in here:

PM Firefly: And now members of the Cabinet, we'll take up old business.
Minister: I wish to discuss the tariff.
Firefly: Sit down. That's new business. No old business? Very well. Then, we'll take up new business.
Minister: Now about that tariff.
Firefly: Too late, that's old business already.

Chicolini the spy: All right, I tell you. Monday we watch Firefly's house, but he no come out. He wasn't home. Tuesday we go to the ball game, but he fool us. He no show up. Wednesday he go to the ball game, and we fool him. We no show up. Thursday was a double-header. Nobody show up. Friday it rained all day. There was no ball game, so we stayed home and we listened to it on the radio.

And who else but Groucho can get away with:

Firefly: Well, that covers a lot of ground. Say! You cover a lot of ground yourself. You'd better beat it. I hear they're gonna tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing. You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. You know, you haven't stopped talking since I came here. You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

The best sequence is easily the one with Chico and Harpo both dressed-up as Groucho, and all three of them chasing around in the middle of the night.

Duck Soup is a great collection of set pieces and stand-alone scenes, crammed together with gags being the only requirement for inclusion. If that's what you’re hungry for, then this film will stuff you until you pass out.

Minister of Finance: Something must be done! War would mean a prohibitive increase in our taxes.
Chicolini: Hey, I got an uncle lives in Taxes.
Minister of Finance: No, I'm talking about taxes - money, dollars.
Chicolini: Dollars! There's where my uncle lives! Dollars, Taxes!
Minister of Finance: Aww!

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