Duck Soup

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The nutty, anarchic political satire Duck Soup is widely considered to be not only the best comedy starring the Marx Brothers, but also one of the greatest comedies ever made. Here, Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly, newly appointed Prime Minister of the struggling country of Freedonia. Lacking any discernible leadership skills, Rufus proceeds to bring the mythical nation to a halt by showing up late and insulting everyone at his inauguration. Hoping to oust the unfit new leader, two bumbling spies (Harpo and Chico) are sent from the neighboring Sylvania. Soon enough, war is declared between the two nations with outrageously destructive results. Wildly funny and surprisingly insightful, Duck Soup is as much a solid chuck of hilarity as it is a biting satire of government, politics and the folly of war. Featuring Groucho and Harpo’s legendary, much-imitated mirror sequence, Harpo and Chico’s mercurial harassing of the lemonade vendor, and the famously surrealistic climactic battle sequence, Duck Soup marked Zeppo’s final appearance in a Marx Brothers film, as well as the comedy team’s last collaboration with Paramount Studios. A box-office disappointment in its day, Duck Soup has since gone on to achieve major classic status and a spot in the U.S. National Film Registry. (Dir. by Leo McCarey, 1933, USA, 69 mins., Not Rated) Digital