Midnight Movie: Duck Soup

Fri 28 January 2005 // 23:55

(Leo McCarey / 1933 / USA / 68mins / certU)
(Fri 28th / midnight / £4/3)

The chaotic and carnivalesque world of the Marx Brothers is familiar to any connoisseur of 20th century culture - Groucho's legendary one-liners and fast wit, Harpo's clown like undermining of authority and order, Chico's gutsy East European blue collar humour, as well as the sometimes divine music performed without a trace of irony amongst the mayhem. Whilst clearly belying their roots as vaudevillian variety show performers, they nonetheless managed to blend all these sensibilities and - with the assistance of studio director Leo McCarey - fashioned some of the finest comedy films ever created.

Despite McCarey commenting that working with the brothers was more like runnig a circus than a film set, DUCK SOUP manages to pack an abrupt and well aimed comic punch with a very lean running time of little over an hour. Not a second is wasted as the plot, such as it is, forms a very efficient scaffold for some of their best known set pieces and gags. And of the much debated political significance of the film, despite Grouch quipping that they were just 'four Jews trying to get laughs', they were reportedly ecstatic when they found the film had been banned by Mussolini as subversive. Subversive it is, and as fresh and funny now as the day it was made. Enjoy!