Friday, November 20, 2009

Revival: Duck Soup

Don't miss DUCK SOUP at the Charles-- Saturday and Monday showings only.

Saturday, November 21 at Noon
Monday, November 23 at 7 PM
No show Thursday.

1933 Leo McCarey. Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Edward Arnold. 68m. bw. 35mm.

"A Marx Brothers revival has long been overdue. Let's hope the Charles' presentation of their masterpiece "Duck Soup" helps kicks one off. It's a good thing that the Charles plays old movies more than once a week. The punning effrontery of Groucho and the dialect comedy of Chico come so fast and mock-furious that even their target audiences in the 1930s had to attend the films several times to catch all the jokes. Each brother of the brothers (except game, banal Zeppo) could also be a sight gag unto himself. And each had his comic force multiplied when he played off another Marx or two. Chico's piano-playing, for example, could be a drag, but the group knew how to mine it for laughs.

They had already annihilated college life in their 1932 burlesque "Horse Feathers," and the next year, in "Duck Soup," they took on an even larger institution than academia - statehood - as Groucho (here the president of the struggling nation of Freedonia) and Chico and Harpo (as secret agents) aim fusillades at every aspect of war with an abandon unmatched until Kubrick made "Dr. Strangelove" 40 years later. And even Kubrick backed off from ending his film with a custard-pie fight, while the Marx Brothers merrily sling slimy fruit at Freedonia's patroness while celebrating a meaningless victory over the country of Sylvania. It makes most other parodies of nationalism taste like thin broth, indeed." (Michael Sragow)

"A few years ago I was asked what films I would like to see again just for my own pleasure, and without a second's thought I replied Duck Soup." (Pauline Kael)

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