Duck Soup

Screening on Film
Directed by Leo McCarey.
With Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx.
US, 1933, 35mm, black & white, 70 min.

When Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) is awarded the rule of European duchy Freedonia by a wealthy female admirer, he promptly plunges the tiny country into war. This satire (as merciless as anarchic farce can be) is usually considered the Marx Brothers' best film. McCarey's experience working with comedians, and his comfort with improvisation served him well when it came to directing the team – in fact, a number of sequences echo bits from McCarey's silent comedies. The film was a disappointment in its day, but its stature has grown steadily since, and today, the final reel, an absurdist look at the insanity of war, is still all-too timely.

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