← Back to Reviews

Duck Soup

Duck Soup (1933)

This is a classic, acclaimed comedy featuring the Marx Brothers.
If you're looking for some good laughs in the form of slapstick comedy and a script full of hilarious puns, this is THE movie for you. This film is literally one big compilation of jokes and sketches with a supordinate main story to hold everything together.

The story is pretty simple.
Mrs. Teasdale (played by Margaret Dumont, known as the ultimate straight lady) is a rich and powerful woman, who is called to finance the bankrupt state of Freedonia. She dethrones the current government and she appoints the rude Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) as the new leader of the nation, because she seems to have a big crush on him.
The ambassador of the neigbouring Sylvania tries to win the heart of Mrs. Teasdale so he can rule over both countries and he hires two (extremely stupid and funny) 'spies' to infiltrate in Freedonia's powerful circles.
When Firefly offends the ambassador at a party, the two states declare war to eachother.

The story is obviously not the most important thing in this movie. It's just a vehicle for the comedy and it doesn't really contribute that much substance to the film. Nevertheless, Duck Soup got banned in Italy under Mussolini, because of the supposed satiric comments this movie has to offer.
The movie is also very fast paced. The brothers really throw their lines at the audience and perform their slaptick jokes in a very fluent way.

This was my second Marx Brothers movie and I have to say that I'm a bigger fan of A Night at the Opera. This movie may be funnier in a certain way, but for me it didn't have the charm of my first Marx Brothers experience. I know some people may not like cheesy, romantic scenes or songs between the hilarious jokes, but I feel like I need some small intermissions between the load of sketches, because otherwise it gets a little too much.
Luckily there were a few musical moments (for instance the wonderful courtroom music scene) in Duck Soup to make everything a little lighter, but I wanted two or three more of these moments to make this movie ideal for my preferences. These small intermezzi are the reason why I liked A Night at the Opera a tiny bit more.
This classic comedy still was a great and memorable experience and I think I will even like it better after a second watch. For the present, I rate this movie: