The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup takes place in the fictional country of Freedonia. At the beginning of the movie, Mrs. Gloria Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), who basically underwrites the finances of Freedonia, insists that Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is installed as president before she will give another penny to the cause. In the neighboring country of Sylvania, Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo) are hired as spies who infiltrate Firefly’s Freedonia and look for access to Teasdale’s money. Zeppo, back to playing throwaway roles, plays Firefly’s secretary in his last movie role before leaving the act.
This is the Marx Brothers, so it doesn’t take long for everything to fall apart completely resulting in war between Freedonia and Sylvania. This is the first Marx Brothers film where Chico does not play the piano and Harpo does not play the harp. There is room, though, for some of the greatest bits in comedic film history: the mirror scene, where Firefly and Pinky mimic each other in completely absurd ways opposite from each other as though they were looking into a mirror, is masterful. Also, a scene where Chicolini and Pinky get in a fight with a lemonade salesman, played by veteran comedian Edgar Kennedy, will leave you wondering how they do some of the sight gags involving their three hats.
- The Marx Brothers: Hollywood’s Kings of Chaos
- Feature Commentary with Film Critic/Historian Leonard Maltin and Marx Brothers Historian/Author Robert S. Bader
The bonus materials are a must watch. The long-form documentary, The Marx Brothers: Hollywood’s Kings of Chaos, is excellent in its depth and breadth with the topic of The Marx Brothers. Leonard Maltin and Robert S. Bader’s commentary of the film is insightful and entertaining.