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Duck Soup (1933 film)

1933 Marx Brothers film by Leo McCarey / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Duck Soup is a 1933 American pre-Code musical black comedy film written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin, directed by Leo McCarey. Released by Paramount Pictures on November 17, 1933, it stars the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo in his final film appearance) and also features Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres and Edgar Kennedy. Duck Soup was the last of five Marx Brothers films released by Paramount Pictures.[1] Groucho portrays the newly installed president of the fictional country of Freedonia. Zeppo is his secretary, while Chico and Harpo are spies for the neighboring country of Sylvania. Relations between Groucho and the Sylvanian ambassador deteriorate during the film, and they go to war at the conclusion.

Quick facts: Duck Soup, Directed by, Written by, Produced ...
Duck Soup
Four disheveled men with goofy expressions wearing antiquated military garb ride a rocket. One of them—with round-rim glasses, thick eyebrows, and a thick mustache—holds a telescope.
Theatrical release poster
L to R: Harpo, Zeppo, Groucho, Chico
Directed byLeo McCarey
Written by
Produced byHerman J. Mankiewicz (uncredited)
CinematographyHenry Sharp
Edited byLeRoy Stone (uncredited)
Music by
  • Bert Kalmar
  • Harry Ruby
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 17, 1933 (1933-11-17)
Running time
68 minutes
CountryUnited States

Compared to the Marx Brothers' previous films, Duck Soup was a box office disappointment,[2] though not entirely a "flop" as is sometimes reported. The film opened to mixed reviews,[3] although this by itself did not end the group's association with Paramount. Bitter contract disputes, including a threatened boycott by the Marxes, soured their negotiations with Paramount just as Duck Soup went into production. After the film fulfilled their five-picture obligation to the studio, the Marxes and Paramount agreed to part ways.[4][5]

While contemporaneous critics of Duck Soup felt it did not quite rise to the level of its predecessors, critical opinion has evolved and the film has since achieved the status of a classic.[6] Duck Soup is now widely considered among many critics and fans to be a masterpiece of comedy as well as the Marx Brothers' finest film.[3][7]

In 1990, the United States Library of Congress deemed Duck Soup "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.[8][9]

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