Thursday, June 22, 2006

Duck Soup (1933)

It's ok, he just finished wiping his hands off on the thing

Genre: Comedy Musical

Starring: The Marx Brothers - Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo (A Night At The Opera; Monkey Business)

Directed By: Leo McCarey (The Bells Of St. Mary's; An Affair To Remember)

Overview: In the land of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly is declared president to put the bankrupt country back in order. War with Sylvania sounds like a good plan!

Acting: Poor Zeppo. What a raw deal he got. After this film he left the Marx brothers and went into being an agent. Good riddance I say. Bit parts blow. This is, by far, the best-acted Marx Brother film I've seen (which really isn't saying much). Even though I didn't feel the parts were tremendously played I was impressed by the supporting cast.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: We also have some elaborate musical numbers that are entertaining rather than interfering and even a prop-rich battle sequence. Grand entrance fanfares and all those different costumes don't go unnoticed. I was quite pleased with the effort that went into making this visually appealing, rather than simply relying on the writing.

Rating: 8

Script: "I could dance with you until the cows come home. On second thought I'd rather dance with the cows until YOU come home..."

The comedy is cute, not too intelligent, but you should know by now that you aren't going to get obscure Dennis Miller referential wit or even Jon Stewart political zings, even if it IS about statesmen and war. Still, as the puns and groaners go, it's actually the best of the bunch.
Rating: 8

Plot: We have a shorter film again, but it's fairly rich with plot. Basically the whole story revolves around the Freedonian President and his ability to be insulted so simply that it becomes considered an act of war. His malignant rapport with the Ambassador of Sylvania is all that's needed to pit the two against each other in the battlefield. Is it possible that there's some subtext here? No! There couldn't possibly be. This film was banned in Italy by Mussollini because he thought it was a personal attack on him. The Marx Brother got a huge kick out of that one.
Rating: 8

Mood: Well this is much more fun than the rest. It looks like there was more time and effort, more budget and better producers for this one than those that came before, so be content, it's decent work. The countries against countries slant is a nice one and that famous Harpo mirror scene? This is that movie.
Rating: 8

Mental Note: never send the General to the front line

Overall Rating: 80% (This Picture's Run By a Couple of Quacks)

Aftertaste: You know after five films with five titles that have nothing to do with the movie itself, save the zany antics of the players I wonder why they moved on to A Day at the Races and A Night At The Opera? If the level of quality of performance keeps up I'll just have to watch all their work from the 30s. hell they might even deserve their own all-star post. You know, yardsticks of popular culture that they are and all, Alan Alda, all that...