The Movie Forums Top 100 Comedies Countdown

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I saw Duck Soup last year and had a lot of fun with it. Here's what I wrote about it:

The term "duck soup" refers to an easily accomplished task or assignment; something that should be easy to succeed at. In the film, it is a kind of ironic jab at Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx), who has just been appointed as leader of the troubled country of Freedonia, but we can also use it to ironically refer to the Marx brothers task of making a comedy that succeeds at parodying government and war. The thing is that the brothers make it seem easy indeed; duck soup.

Groucho is joined by his three brothers in various roles. Harpo and Chico play a couple of bumbling spies for the rival country of Sylvania, while Zeppo plays Firefly's assistant. Firefly's task of governing is complicated when he starts a grudge with Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania, something that threatens to lead them to war. But the truth is that the plot, even though it's there, matters little as it serves primarily as a vehicle for the brothers barrage of jokes, gags, slapstick, and musical montages.

This happens to be my first Marx brothers film, but I can happily say that it was a pleasant watch and a lot of fun. As someone who really hadn't had any experience with the brothers, I was surprised at how dry and slightly risky the jokes were. I guess I was expecting something more a-la Chaplin, with a bit more heart and charm, but I adjusted my gauges quickly and found myself enjoying the biting satire of things like war and politics.

Sure, some of the routines felt like, well, routines; like they were already established and were just transposed to this film and slightly adjusted to fit the narrative, but that doesn't make the jokes any less clever, and the frenetic and lively energy of the cast makes up for it. I also found the musical numbers to be real treat. Knowing of its reputation, I wasn't expecting less, but I was still surprised by how effortless and easy the comedy and fun felt here; you know, duck soup.

Seen: 70/93

My ballot:  
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My Number 8 was Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero. Another hasty inclusion on this list, but it cannot be denied that it is a fantastically absurd comedy.

A Japanese school student, born of a dominatrix and a cop, discovers that his degeneracy is not a mere perversion, but a superpower that enables him to fight crime. Clad in a panty mask, fishnet stockings, and a mankini; this nipple-pinching atrocity is a criminal's worst nightmare, and so is his ultimate attack: Capapulting himself crotch-first into your face.

I rated it
.



1. ??? (1971)
2. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
3. Black Dynamite (2009)
4. Clue (1985)
5. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
6. ??? (1998)
7. ??? (1975)
8. HK: Forbidden Superhero (2013)
9. Gothic & Lolita Psycho (2010)
10. Dragon Tiger Gate (2006)
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Duck Soup was my #19. One of the few movies that don't fall into my categories of Dark-Satire-Acidic-Horror quadrants. I know some people have tried to argue it's satire, but really? No.

It's a simple movie full of silly, one liners that land for me. I've only seen A Night at the Opera and Duck Soup. I always mean to see some of their other movies, but for one reason or another, haven't. I find A Night at the Opera bogged down by plot that ultimately isn't interesting. I was also more certain this was going to end up in the top 10 than The General because unlike Keaton, there seems to be a clear general consensus with the Marx Brothers and there isn't a split vote (and The General usually ending higher on best-of lists for Keaton than Sherlock Jr., isn't always considered, as funny. Though with it missing the near-miss list, I'm now wondering if The General is still making it, and it's one of the other assumed top 10 that's missing (in which case, I think it's one of the Bill Murray movies)).

I think for reveals of movies not making it, Phoenix revealing The Death of Stalin (and it also being on my ballot) is probably the closest to Duck Soup. What can I say? Political satire. Applied to a fairly dark time of recent human history. I suspect it's not the last time we'll see something about satire capturing the absurdity of world politics to show up.

For Blazing Saddles, I'd say it's pretty safe to say my, #22 is a good one to reveal:
Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995)
This one was a tough for me to decide whether or not to include just because it's on that scale of, "subdued comedy that I love, but do I love it for the comedy?" And I finally decided the answer is yes. Every time I watch it, I go in remembering my opinion of it is alright, and then by the end, it becomes, "this movie was just kind of amazing." Though, because of that questionable nature of if it belongs on this list, it is unsurprisingly down at 22.



Trying to capture why this movie works is hard. It's just got a vibe. A vibe that grooves along with its soundtrack. The world is absurd, yet real. The comedy, not there, but then almost always present, like a traveling companion that keeps yammering away and can't shut up, even though you've got a mystique to you and just don't care for other people's company, thus it becomes a droning background noise drone. If you don't like slow, deadpan comedies, this is probably not for you. Jarmusch is also known for really big on the sense of place being one of the characters in his films, so you'll often get a lot of long shots just taking in the locales (or locations) to just give you a sense of the world occurs in a number of his films - I've heard people who aren't fans of this, describe his movies as, "having a 5 minute shot where nothing happens." So, again, it might not be for you. But if you like movies that just have their vibe and their own character, this movie has its own surreal poetry to it. Yeah, it was a bit of a stretch, but it was my #22, and I felt it captures a type of humor that I have (also considered for that position was Broken Flowers, but ultimately upon reflection, I find Dead Man both more funny and better).


Updating ballot so far:
Percents given were guesses of likelihood the movie would still show up after we got to spot 40. Not updating those percentages/guesses (Update: now we're in the top 10, anything below 90% is now below 1%).

seen: 71/93 = 76.34%

The Ballot so far
WARNING: spoilers below

1. It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012) (#62)
2. 60% (at the beginning of the list, I would have put this at 90%)
3. 90%
4. House (1977) (#90)
5. 15%
6. Brazil (1985) (#48)
7. 30%
8. 33%
9. 1%
10. The Death of Stalin (2017) 50% (NP)
11. 50%
12. Fargo (1996) (#98)
13. 20%
14. 10%
15. 0.1%
16. 90%
17. 33%
18. Heathers (1989) (#47)
19. Duck Soup (1933) (#8) - 85%
20. The Apartment (1960) (#30) - 90%
21. Evil Dead II (1987) (#94)
22. Dead Man (1995) - 5% (NP)
23. Best in Show (2000) (#75)
24. 0.01%
25. The Phantom of Liberty (1974) (1 pointer) - 0%
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Saved for personal reference (to see how wrong I was): top 100 comedy countdown - my predictions for my ballot after #41 (Borat) on the list had been revealed



Yes to exposing the systems and institutions for what they are and bringing them down through anarchy and humour, but on the silver screen, and perhaps we don't go that route, instead recognizing what it is that we've built and what it could be if we forget to keep it in check. Universally relevant and timeless. Hail hail Marx Brothers! I had Duck Soup at #6.

2. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
4. Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
5. Being John Malkovich (1999)
6. Duck Soup (1933)
7. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
8. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
9. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
10. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
11. Superbad (2007)
12. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
13. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
14. Playtime (1967)
15. Dazed and Confused (1993)
17. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
18. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
19. Trading Places (1983)
23. Animal House (1978)
24. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
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Duck Soup making the countdown is kgaard's Lock of the Week.
Ooh, that's a big lock, alright!

A list of the best comedies of all time would look pretty ridiculous without the Marx Bros. Comical, even! Thank god that didn't come to pass. Duck Soup, breezy, fun, but with a little edge, was my #13.



Really enjoyed "Duck Soup" and by far my favorite film of that comedic era. Love when gags work, its life and death for a comedy and this doesn't disappoint. Very solid and embarrassed that I didn't include it.



I watched a whole bunch of Marx Bros for the 30's countdown and liked all of them to some extent. My favorite was Horse Feathers which I watched first. I saved Duck Soup for near the end because of its reputation, and by that point I was a little underwhelmed. I wonder if I would have reacted better to Duck Soup had I watched that first?



The world doesn't owe you a damn thing
I ought to thoroughly enjoy The Marx Bros movies but of the four I've seen (A Day At The Races, A Night At The Opera, Animal Crackers & Horse Feathers) the highest I've rated any of them was
+ so I've come to the conclusion they're sadly just not for me. Maybe one day I'll give Duck Soup a try but I wouldn't advise holding any breath. Absolutely no surprise to see it make Top Ten though as I know those that do like them tend to hold this one in the highest regard.



I honestly thought they'd be up your comedy thoroughfare. Uh,
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The world doesn't owe you a damn thing
I have one tape with all of the following in order: Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup. It's great, especially the last two. I put Horse Feathers in my mofo Top 100 over Duck Soup more because everybody seems to love Duck Soup but many people have never watched Horse Feathers. Whenever I feel really bad or think that maybe even my life sucks, I put on Horse Feathers and Duck Soup and just laugh until I cry. I do think that if every child watched the final five minutes of Duck Soup every year in school that there would be no wars.
What, no Night at the Opera?
Et tu, mark?







It's time to have some fun
Damn straight that a Marx Bros film belongs in the countdown and in the top 10! Duck Soup isn't my favorite Marx Bros film but it's a good one.


Duck Soup (1933)

You know I always thought that Groucho really had big thick black eyebrows and a huge mustache to match. I thought that when I use to watch the Marx Bros as a kid. When I was adult I remember seeing a much older Groucho Marx on TV and I wondered where in the hell his eyebrows had went to! So it came as a big shock to me when I finally realized that Groucho was adored in black grease paint after all!

I like Groucho! He's funny with his smart ass remarks and I guess that grease paint helps too. The Marx bros did all of their famous antics in Duck Soup: Harpo with his scissors and his leg in the arm trick, good stuff! I think my favorite bit was Chico and Harpo dressed up like Groucho and the resulting mirror scene, a classic for sure. I wasn't big on the story, for me the draw are the four Marx brothers. OK only three of them are actually funny. Poor Zeppo might not get any gags but he's a good sport



It's time to have some fun
...Play It Again, Sam, my #12, is a charming Woody Allen film, based on his play, about a loser movie critic who uses Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy) as inspiration in his pathetic attempts at scoring with women. His best friends, a married couple (Tony Roberts and Diane Keaton), try to help him get over his divorce from free-spirited Susan Anspach, but it turns out that who he really wants is his best friend's wife...

A tie-in between Pygmalion and Play It Again, Sam is that Howard and Bogie are pretty funny together in Stand-In (1937). Also, Howard demanded that Bogie be cast as Duke Mantee in the film version of The Petrified Forest when Jack Warner wanted to replace him.
Play it Again, Sam was my #7, our countdown host Diehl recommended it to me, I'm glad he did. Coincidentally I just watched Stand-In (1937) for the first time a few days ago, a very unusual film with an interesting story premise, I enjoyed it. And I watched The Petrified Forest for the second time a couple weeks ago and I was blown away by Leslie Howard's performance...Currently I'm working my way through all of Bogart's filmography starting at the earliest ones.



Duck Soup is a comedic masterpiece and it's, frankly, not high enough.

Again, the way I praised The Jerk for feeling surprisingly modern, I have to do the same here. Groucho's irreverence and quick wit live cozily within modern comedic sensibilities almost a ducking century after it was released. Absurd. Even his character's name, Rufus T. Firefly, is hilarious, and not in the way a lot of older films try to be funny with those names, by making them really on-the-nose. It's just...off. It's just a little too much. It's subtle in its absurdity.

I'd say more, but if you don't get it you don't get it. If you saw the mirror scene, particularly the end, and it didn't trigger utter mirth and appreciation in you, then there's just nothin' to talk about. But that moment, in particular, is something I've seen bust the guts of septuagenarians and six-year-olds alike, which makes it empirically magical.

It was my #4.




The world doesn't owe you a damn thing


Duck Soup (1939

Rufus T. Firefly: Remember, you're fighting for this woman's honor, which is probably more than she ever did.

With the Marx Brothers at their craziest, or dare I say, unleashed, this ranks at a VERY close second to my all-time favorite, which I'll reveal soon from its spot on my list.
The nuthouse is now an open house, and the nuts run the country.
There are quite a number of great skits throughout this film. Most well known is the Mirror Skit as Harpo, disguised as Groucho, pantomimes him from the other side of a very recently broken mirror.


Another favorite of mine is Edgar Kennedy's torment as the Lemonade Vendor; as a kid, I simply loved Chico and Harpo giving him hell. Now I really appreciate Kennedy's ability to play the foil with such skill and frustration.



gonna spit out a triple shot of No Chance Placing But It [email protected] Makes Me Laugh.



10. Flushed Away (2006)

Whitey: Are you sure about this, Spike? These things are dangerous.
Spike: Danger is my middle name!
Whitey: I thougth it was Lesley.

Aardman's first fully-CGI feature film and my top #1 from them with a smorgasbord of incredible actors doing just all kinds of [email protected] awesome voices. Ian McKellen as the villainous Toad, his two lackeys, Whitey (Bill Nighy) and Spike (Andy Serkis), chasing after the titular posh Roddy (Hugh Jackman), who has been, you guessed it, flushed from his home in a stylish British home down the pipes to Ratopolis and attempts to hire the Captian of the Jammy Dodger, Rita (Kate Winslet) to get back home, only to stumble into more and more trouble.





15. Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool: [walking towards Blind Al's home] She's like Robin to my Batman, except she's old and black and blind. And I think she's in love with me. Wait, pretty sure Robin loves Batman, too.

Ryan Reynolds [email protected] nails it for deviant, offensive humor.
Period.




20. Dinner For Schmucks (2010)

Marco - Blind Swordsman: I love to paint.
Davenport: Oh wow, are you any good?
Marco - Blind Swordsman: I don't know.

In the age-old Straight Man/Stooge, Paul Rudd (which I am so-so with) is a great balance to the genius of Steve Carell.
Carell makes little dioramas with dead mice, and Rudd needs to find an idiot for a special dinner that his boss and higher-ups have where everyone must bring an idiot to be laughed at collectively. Chock full of buffoonery and nonsense with a lot of heart in an almost Capra-inspired set-up without censor restriction.




Watched: 75 out of 92 (81.52%)
1. Kung Fu Hustle (2004) #66
2.Cruella (2021)
3. Gonna be in the Top Ten
4. Long past its due date
5. Has a little bit of life left, maybe
6. [email protected] ALL YA ALL this doesn't place
7. What's Up, Doc? (1972) #59
8. Locked for Top Ten
9. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain aka Amélie (2001) #40
10. Flushed Away (2006)
11. Something I never thought had a chance, but by conversations, I've read. . . ??? Annd back to not freakin likely
12. I thought, at least, maybe the back fifty. [email protected] me till I giggle if it shows in the next ten or so
13. Blazing Saddles (1974) #10
14. Caddyshack (1980) #25
15. Deadpool (2016)
16. OK, this one kinda pisses me off in a kinda snobby "No, good sir, [email protected] not only you but each and every one of your associates. So, yes, if you please, gag, choke, die. You pick what order. Now, off with you."
17. Um, let's see, I. . . think, I'm gonna go with. . . um, yes. #6, yes, please, thank you
18. [email protected], I already know; I'll have a #4, thanks
19. Was hoping for a spot in the back twenty. . . oh well, boo effin hoo pour moi lol
20. Dinner For Schmucks (2010)
21. How about I go Large on the #10 and gimme a #20. Awesome, thanks, dude
22. Oh MY God! Gimme THAT. #20 for me too.
23. I'm dieting, so - [email protected] delish, Do enjoy, but, yes, a #10 ONLY, if you'd be so kind and thank you - LOVE your scarf.
24. Animal House (1978) #31
25. Megamind (2010) One Pointer

One Pointers: 18 out of 42 (40.47%)

Rectification List
1. Mean Girls (2004) #67
2. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) #31



I love Some Like it Hot...despite the presence of Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, and Billy Wilder behind the camera, for me, this movie totally belonged to Jack Lemmon, in a deliciously complex performance...even though he is in drag for the majority of the film. he always plays the role as a man pretending to be a woman, and not a woman, and that's why the performance is so incredible and earned the film its only acting nomination.
I agree with your point about Lemmon. He really did the heavy lifting in the movie, and portrayed the trickiest part with verve and believability. He also had the lion's share of the comedy lines, not to mention the famous last incredulous look to the camera!

I did get a kick out of Curtis' impersonation of Cary Grant's voice in the film. And MM was sizzling hot!



Since we're still talking Lemmon and Curtis, I went a different way. A couple more off my list.


#20 "The Great Race" (1965)




In the early 20th century, two rivals, the heroic Leslie and the despicable Professor Fate, engage in an epic automobile race from New York to Paris. Lemmon and Curtis reunite with a solid supporting cast. Loved this film since childhood.



#21 "The Hot Rock" (1972)



This clip pretty much sums up the film. Had to have a comic robbery somewhere on my ballot and this was my choice.






Of course, the mirror scene is really "borrowed" from the "French Chaplin" Max Linder's Seven Years Bad Luck.
Here's another cute one from Harold Lloyd's The Marathon (1919).

Of the 3, I think Linder's is the best, but the Marx brothers is the most famous.