Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Duck Soup, 1933

Directed by Leo McCarey
Starring the Four Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont, and Louis Calhern
Written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin

Where does one begin in singing the praises of this movie? Harpo and Chico are so funny in their scenes with Trentino (Calhern) and the lemonade vendor (Edgar Kennedy) that it might be the best Marx Brothers movie even if Groucho weren't in it. But he is in it, and he's fabulous, too: his entrance and first scene are top of the line, and everything with all three of them in Margaret Dumont's mansion is fantastic. Most people love the mirror scene the best in that part, but I prefer watching Harpo after he's tried to "open the safe." In addition to the mirror scene, there's also great little exchange that Groucho and Harpo have about Harpo's tattoos, so there's the bonus of watching the two of them together a little more than usual. And if you're like Groucho (and me), and prefer that there's no harp and piano, then you get your druthers on that, too. Zeppo's fine, and makes for nice symmetry in the choreography of song before the war; he also has a nice gag with a hat, but it's Harpo's joke, even though he's already off-screen.

With this and the Awful Truth, Leo McCarey puts himself in the pantheon of comedy gods. Also, this is in the pantheon.

Duck Soup at IMDB.

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