Deep within the halls of the movie buff zone, a quiet battle has been raging for the better part of a century: which is the best Marx Brothers movie, Duck Soup (1933) or A Night at the Opera (1935)? They were made a mere two years apart, and yet the difference between them is vast. Duck Soup runs 68 minutes and looks like a low-budget B-movie. It was directed by silent-era comedy specialist, and unsung master Leo McCarey (who would go on to win two Oscars for Best Director, as well as earning several other nominations). It moves lightning fast over a seriously sketchy plot, taking all kinds of side trips and leaps of logic, and yet it manages to be a clever satire of the impulses behind war. It's so manic and frenzied and anarchic that some consider it an avant-garde film. Not even the title is ever explained onscreen. At one point, everything goes completely silent for three minutes for the famous "mirror" sequence. For these reasons and more, I am planted firmly in the Duck Soup camp.
categories Cinematical