The Marx Brothers at Their Best

        The Marx Brothers' had all the right ingredients in Duck Soup, directed in 1933 by Leo McCarey, for an excellent and comical film. They incorporated an extraordinary amount of non-stop non-sense from start to finish, which made it one of the funniest films of all time. Groucho is on peak form with his relentless puns and sharp insults, especially in the interplay between Margaret Dumont and himself. Harpo continues his pursuit to induce heart failure to those in the audience who are able to laugh by use of visual humor. Chico complements these two perfectly by adapting to their methods and creating a unique connection with each, while adding his own style through his apparent misuse of the English language and his crazy behavior. Zeppo, on the other hand, somehow manages to complete the group nicely by providing good straight support.

        The whole film succeeds because absolutely nothing (apart from the comedy) is taken seriously; situations, people, clichés, film techniques, political ideas, or anything that especially has to do with authority, are all mercilessly mocked, given a fresh angle, or having their legitimacy simply overlooked.

        After watching Duck Soup, I felt excited and satisfied with the quality and quantity of the comedy, yet I observed that the characters had really been more or less crazy characters and stereotypes, which were there mostly to keep the superb gags flowing.

        Of course, Marx Brothers fans will argue that the Marx's were Hollywood's "alternative comedians," attempting to change the face of traditional comedy and developing their own unique style, while creating identifiable, memorable, comic, and anarchic characters. In fact, with their exaggerated costumes and mannerisms, the team seemed to be satirizing the whole idea of what Chaplin, Keaton or Langdon did with their "Tramp," "Stone-face," or "Boy" characters.

        Overall Duck Soup is a pioneering work of the Marx Brothers. They proved that comic characters do not have to be three-dimensional in order to be funny. This is a true masterpiece from this time period.

Matthew Whitted

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