Ah! Slapstick is so classic!
The Marx brothers have gone down in history as one of the best and most original comedy acts ever to come to screen. What they manage to do is quick talking and quick moving to make laughs. Their quick movement could be the exchange of a hat or popcorn and the talking is so fast and so smart that sometimes it goes unnoticed.
Groucho Marx plays Rufus T. Firefly, the unqualified, bumbling emperor of Freedonia. Although he’s completely incompetent at his job, he’s extremely apt at making quick jokes that none of his political contemporaries understand.
Freedonia is at on the verge of war with its neighboring country, Sylvania. The ambassador to Sylvania is concocting a plan to make Freedonia crumble to its knees.
Already the stage is set for wonderful political satire to happen and it does—quickly and unashamedly. But what I wasn’t expecting from this 1930s picture is the level at which they attack the government. It’s a full out mockery, and boy is it fun to watch.
They’re not exactly criticizing America, per se, it seems to be government in general. It’s borderline anarchical.
Through all the political jokes you have some wonderful slapstick that is simply marvelous, truly a lost art. A peanut vender and a man who sells lemonade get in a fight that leads to a long segment of slapstick magic.
Harpo Marx, who famously never talks, is really the poster child for why comedy doesn’t always have to be spoken.
Some of the sound techniques and stunts used were actually revolutionary for the time.
“Duck Soup” is non-sensical and glorious. It's short and sweet and remains today, one of the best comedies ever made.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars