A masterpiece. Fast-moving, irreverent, almost anarchic in style, DUCK SOUP is considered by many to be the Marx Brothers's greatest achievement, though it was not a hit upon its release. The story, if one can call it that, concerns Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), a dowager millionairess
who will donate $20 million to the destitute duchy of Freedonia if it will agree to make Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) its dictator. Firefly woos Mrs. Teasdale and spends his spare time insulting Trentino (Louis Calhern), the ambassador from neighboring Sylvania; Trentino hires the sultry Vera Marcal
(Raquel Torres) to vamp Firefly so that Trentino can move in on Mrs. Teasdale, marry her, and get control of Freedonia. To aid his chicanery, Trentino hires Chicolini (Chico), a peanut salesman, and his friend Pinky (Harpo) as spies. Eventually war breaks out and, after much manic double-crossing
and side-switching, Freedonia emerges victorious.
DUCK SOUP is perhaps the best, and funniest, depiction of the absurdities of war ever committed to celluloid. The Marxes' depiction of two-bit dictators destroying their own countries was a slap at the rising fascists, so much so that Mussolini considered it a direct insult and banned the film in
Italy. The Marx Brothers were thrilled to hear that. Best gag among what seems like hundreds: the mirror sequence.
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