Since I started the week with an absurd political farce I thought it would be appropriate to end it with what is probably most revered political farce of all time, The Marx Brothers classic, Duck Soup. Today’s movie is also the first movie I’ve reviewed that was included in the AFI 100, having been ranked 60th on the most recent version of the list. So my expectations going in were pretty high. Of course, it was also released in 1933, so there’s always the possibility that the humor wouldn’t hold up.
I found the film enjoyable and undeniably clever, but also undeniably dated. This movie may be more influential than it is good. Or perhaps, because it’s an extremely influential movie, a lot of the best gags have been ripped off and recycled so much that this film feels less original than it probably is. Also, it isn’t helped by the fact the plot is flimsy and doesn’t much sense. Of course, the plot is really just a way to string together a series of comedy bits.
Fortunately, most of these comedy bits do still work. The famous “mirror scene” with Harpo Marx as Pinky has disguised himself as Groucho’s Rufus T. Firefly and attempts to dupe Firefly into thinking that he is his own reflection was one of the most clever bits of comedy I’ve seen in a long time. This movie relies heavily on puns and clever one-liners. I almost want to re-watch it to see if I pick up on anything that I missed. That said, based on my first viewing, I’d have call this worth seeing. It’s an important part of movie history, and 80 years after its production, it can still deliver plenty of laughs. But I’d have a hard time calling it a great movie.