The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with the tragic sense of life, when you just need to watch a film that’s a good laugh from start to finish, check out the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup.
There’s wise-cracking Groucho, as Rufus T. Firefly, the war-mongering cowardly dictator of a country named Freedonia: “You’re a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you’re out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we’ll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.”
There’s his brother Chico, as Chicolini, an inept spy, always good for a puzzling line: “How would you like a job in the mint?” “Mint? No, no. I no like mint. What other flavor you got?”
There’s silent Harpo as a spy named Pinky, the perpetual child, and perhaps the funniest one of the bunch. And there’s Zeppo as Bob, the hapless straight man.
Of course there’s a plot, since movies are supposed to have those, but really, what difference does it make? This movie is just an excuse for the Marx Brothers to show off. They are absurd, surreal, hilarious, unpredictable, and just plain funny. This movie was made in 1933 and nothing since rivals it. The pacing is tremendous, the laughs are almost non-stop, and the absolute, utterly bizarre behavior of warring nations is revealed as ridiculous. Really, who knew that anarchy could be so much fun?
Duck Soup is rated number five on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American comedies. It’s number one by me. So please, go and treat yourself to a few laughs.