Soup with a Dash of Humor

        Leo McCarey struck gold when he used the Marx brothers in the 1933 film Duck Soup. The previous film, Gold Rush (1925) was of the slight and unobvious comedic genre. In the film Duck Soup, however, this was not the case. This film was of the in your face, slap stick, sarcastic comedic genre which I can appreciate. When this film was released the public was slowly evolving into an audience that can appreciate comedies which are obvious and slightly pointless. Without these comedy films in the past, films of today would be very different; in fact, films today may have been all serious documentaries (which are not bad either)

        What I appreciated the most out of the film Duck Soup was how comedy was oblivious to the characters in the film while being obvious to the audience. The Marx brothers were the secret to this recipe of "serious comedy" (meaning serious actors in the film coming across as comedians outside of the film). The Marx brothers each had their own technique in this film of getting a laugh out of the audience.

        The two obvious brothers were Groucho and Harpo. Groucho had a fast-paced way of getting his sarcastic lines out that an audience would have to stop and think, "Did he just say what I think he just said?" When Groucho is using this technique, the audience will catch the first sarcastic comment and still be laughing by the time they comprehend the next one. Groucho's brother Harpo, on the other hand, had a different type of humor. Harpo had a type of humor that involved random props.

        Harpo would have gags, such as a blow torch, for a lighter, giant scissors, and ridiculous outfits. I must say I have always appreciated Harpo's humor from the first time I had viewed a remake of the "Harpo and mirror gag." This gag always has Harpo dressed up like someone else and then the other person the "else" will walk by what he think is a mirror, when in reality it is Harpo "reflecting" his actions. I watched a remake on an I Love Lucy episode when Lucille Ball meets up with Harpo Marx when she is in California. I had never seen the original version of Harpo doing this in the film Duck Soup; but, now that I have, it makes a lot more sense of how funny it really is. These film scenes or remakes from the past (such as the mirror gag) really show how the films of today are similar to the films of the past, since the gags/bits are still being used today and still come off as a hit.

Rebecca Cripps

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