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Duck Soup

Duck Soup  

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  1. 1. Does Duck Soup belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes ūü•ú
      8
    • No ūüćč
      2

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  • Poll closed on 11/09/18 at 08:00 AM

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1 minute ago, Cameron H. said:

No one knows - or really cares - who hit the first home run. It's not that it's not important, but it's more of a foot note. What people care about are people like Micky Mantle and Babe Ruth. People who elevated it to an art form. (Not that this isn't art.) 

I would argue that the Marx brothers were Babe Ruth.  (Maybe Charlie Chaplin is Ty Cobb and Buster Keaton is Honus Wagner?)  But the move from silent comedy to talkies is not dissimilar to the move from small ball to home run hitting.

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9 minutes ago, bleary said:

I would argue that the Marx brothers were Babe Ruth.  (Maybe Charlie Chaplin is Ty Cobb and Buster Keaton is Honus Wagner?)  But the move from silent comedy to talkies is not dissimilar to the move from small ball to home run hitting.

I'll give you that, but I still stand by my assertion that being an originator or being influential doesn't automatically mean you're "The Best." If I'm permitted to switch metaphors for a moment, I'd say that Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent were both fine musicians, but I'm mainly aware of them because they influenced The Beatles. 

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8 hours ago, Cam Bert said:

Quick aside, what comedies did our fathers show us when we were kids?

I know my father made me watch Monty Python and their movies and George Carlin when I was far too young to fully get them.

Absolutely none. Instead of comedies, he introduced me to the exciting world of televised golf.  

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1 minute ago, tomspanks said:

Absolutely none. Instead of comedies, he introduced me to the exciting world of televised golf.  

Mine too :) 

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3 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I'll give you that, but I still stand by my assertion that being an originator or being influential doesn't automatically mean you're "The Best." If I'm permitted to switch metaphors for a moment, I'd say that Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent were both fine musicians, but I'm mainly aware of them because they influenced The Beatles. 

I'll always permit as many metaphor switches as necessary!¬†ūüôā

Who would you call the Beatles in this metaphor?  If the Marx brothers are the major influencers rather than the major stars (which I can buy, though I might put them more at Buddy Holly status than Carl Perkins), then I could see the argument for Woody Allen as the major star, in that his films regularly received praise as being higher art.  It is notable that the only two Marx brothers films on the ballot both made the list, while Woody Allen had three films on the ballot (with Manhattan and Sleeper not making the list).

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40 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I mean, it's a fine comedy, but there's no pathos. There's no emotional center. And I think this goes back to what Conan was saying about (oh, I'm going to fuck this up) sentimentality (Chaplin) vs Anarchy (Marx Bros). For me, a good drama has elements of comedy and a good comedy should have elements of drama. That's what I mean by "one note." So, yes, there are different styles of comedy in it,  but it's still, essentially, a zany comedy. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. That doesn't make it bad. But without that depth of scope, I don't know how it can be considered "the greatest." It has really good jokes, but so does Airplane!. 

Furthermore, as I said before, Duck Soup isn't doing anything terribly compelling from a filmmaking perspective. The cinematography and direction are both pretty basic. There aren't any great leaps in technique - aside from it being a talking comedy. I'm just asking, besides "The Marx Bros are some funny dudes," why does this deserve to be on the list? 

Again I wasn't huge on Duck Soup either and you brought up the movie that should go on this list in my opinion over Duck Soup and that is Airplane!. To me these two movie share a lot in common. Both try to cram as many jokes in possible and  both are just silly for the sake of being silly. There are scenes of physical comedy and there are scenes of quick replies and word play. However, where I think Airplane! works over Duck Soup is that it is working on many different levels. First off Airplane! hits pretty much every type of comedy. There is at least one joke somewhere in the movie that covers every major style and type of humor. All the actors are slightly different in style of acting. Julie Hagerty and Robert Hayes are heightened comedic performances, Leslie Nielsen and Peter Graves are deadpan and straight, Lloyd Bridges finding a balance in between those. The main difference is there is there is a story and even in the bits of story that would be boring they throw in visual jokes to keep you interested while not taking away from the story or comedy. At its core Airplane! like Duck Soup is just pure comedy and being silly but fills in those gaps where I think Duck Soup falls a bit short.

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I don‚Äôt think Duck Soup will be a frequent rewatch for me, but I‚Äôm glad it exists and influenced other great comedies.¬†One of my favorite comedy lines ever is from Wayne‚Äôs World 2. Kim Basinger‚Äôs character, Honey Hornee, and Garth are about to get down. She says ‚Äútake me, Garth!‚ÄĚ and he says with a deadpan ‚Äúwhere? I‚Äôm low on gas and you need¬†a jacket.‚ÄĚ ¬†I don‚Äôt think I‚Äôm stretching it to say this could have been part of a¬†Marx Bros bit.

So I recognize¬†Duck Soup for being a huge influence on comedies, and there were important bits sprinkled throughout,¬†but as a whole, it just didn‚Äôt work for me. Yes, I love puns, but there‚Äôs so much¬†rapid fire string of dadjokes I can take in one sitting. And sure, it might have been ‚Äúthe first‚ÄĚ since the sound era, but I honestly don‚Äôt know if we would‚Äôve had Duck Soup without The General preceding it.¬†

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10 minutes ago, bleary said:

I'll always permit as many metaphor switches as necessary!¬†ūüôā

Who would you call the Beatles in this metaphor?  If the Marx brothers are the major influencers rather than the major stars (which I can buy, though I might put them more at Buddy Holly status than Carl Perkins), then I could see the argument for Woody Allen as the major star, in that his films regularly received praise as being higher art.  It is notable that the only two Marx brothers films on the ballot both made the list, while Woody Allen had three films on the ballot (with Manhattan and Sleeper not making the list).

I approve of your swapping them out for Buddy Holly. That's probably a bit more fair.

Gee, that's a great question. Maybe you're right with Woody Allen. I mean, from the limited amount of movies I've seen, he's not exactly my cup of tea either, but you're right in terms him making comedy more artistic. Maybe Mel Brooks, too - although he might be too similar in style for this analogy. 

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9 minutes ago, Cam Bert said:

Again I wasn't huge on Duck Soup either and you brought up the movie that should go on this list in my opinion over Duck Soup and that is Airplane!. To me these two movie share a lot in common. Both try to cram as many jokes in possible and  both are just silly for the sake of being silly. There are scenes of physical comedy and there are scenes of quick replies and word play. However, where I think Airplane! works over Duck Soup is that it is working on many different levels. First off Airplane! hits pretty much every type of comedy. There is at least one joke somewhere in the movie that covers every major style and type of humor. All the actors are slightly different in style of acting. Julie Hagerty and Robert Hayes are heightened comedic performances, Leslie Nielsen and Peter Graves are deadpan and straight, Lloyd Bridges finding a balance in between those. The main difference is there is there is a story and even in the bits of story that would be boring they throw in visual jokes to keep you interested while not taking away from the story or comedy. At its core Airplane! like Duck Soup is just pure comedy and being silly but fills in those gaps where I think Duck Soup falls a bit short.

 

1 minute ago, Cameron H. said:

I approve of your swapping them out for Buddy Holly. That's probably a bit more fair.

Gee, that's a great question. Maybe Woody Allen. I mean, from the limited amount of movies I've seen, he's not exactly my cup of tea either, but you're right in terms him making comedy more artistic. Maybe Mel Brooks, too - although he might be too similar in style for this analogy. 

I think this just gets to the heart of why it's tough to judge comedies.  Airplane! is an all-time classic, as are the top 3 or 4 Mel Brooks movies.  But just speaking personally, none of them makes me laugh as much as Duck Soup and Horse Feathers.  

(If you're interested, Airplane! was on the AFI ballot, as well as Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles, the last of which I can't believe didn't make the list.)

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7 minutes ago, bleary said:

 

I think this just gets to the heart of why it's tough to judge comedies.  Airplane! is an all-time classic, as are the top 3 or 4 Mel Brooks movies.  But just speaking personally, none of them makes me laugh as much as Duck Soup and Horse Feathers.  

(If you're interested, Airplane! was on the AFI ballot, as well as Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles, the last of which I can't believe didn't make the list.)

I agree completely. Ranking things is subjective and humor is even more so. That's why I think there are so many more dramas on the list because those are universally got while if one style of comedy doesn't work for you a comedy movie can just fall flat.

To me though that is even more reason for Mel Brooks or Airplane! to make the list. If you divorce personal opinions or number of laughs out of the equation and focus on the film making or writing aspects of it I think they stand out a bit more than Duck Soup. Again it is subjective, but I kinda feel like if we're putting Swing Time on to represent all Ginger and Fred films, can't we put one Marx Brother's movie in to represent Marx Brothers movies and replace the other spot with a Mel Brooks movie and have that stand in for all Mel Brooks movies?

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16 minutes ago, bleary said:

 

I think this just gets to the heart of why it's tough to judge comedies.  Airplane! is an all-time classic, as are the top 3 or 4 Mel Brooks movies.  But just speaking personally, none of them makes me laugh as much as Duck Soup and Horse Feathers.  

(If you're interested, Airplane! was on the AFI ballot, as well as Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles, the last of which I can't believe didn't make the list.)

Exactly, comedy is so subjective. Duck Soup didn‚Äôt make me laugh even once ūüôä

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42 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Absolutely none. Instead of comedies, he introduced me to the exciting world of televised golf.  

Oh my goodness, ditto!! That and Green Bay Packer games. I don't remember my parents really introducing me to any specific movies. My dad isn't a big movie fan (I don't ever remember him going to a movie). My mom didn't so much introduce us to movies except for maybe Wizard of Oz, and I know she looooooved The Jazz Singer and Grease. 

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30 minutes ago, bleary said:

 

I think this just gets to the heart of why it's tough to judge comedies.  Airplane! is an all-time classic, as are the top 3 or 4 Mel Brooks movies.  But just speaking personally, none of them makes me laugh as much as Duck Soup and Horse Feathers.  

(If you're interested, Airplane! was on the AFI ballot, as well as Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles, the last of which I can't believe didn't make the list.)

Agreed. My problem with Comedies is that so few of them, for me anyway, are actually re-watchable. It's like going to a party and a person tells you a funny joke and then running into them a few weeks later and they tell you the same joke. It's just never going to be as funny the second time you hear it (never mind the 5th, 6th, 7th, etc,). That's a big reason why I feel like Comedy benefits from being more well-rounded. Amy has brought it up before, but I would fully support When Harry Met Sally on the AFI list. It's very funny, but even when you know all of them and can quote them by heart, there's still a really strong story about love and relationships at its core. I don't need to bust a gut laughing with every re-watch because it's built on something far more tangible than just "I'd love 'eliminate.'" 

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4 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Oh my goodness, ditto!! That and Green Bay Packer games. I don't remember my parents really introducing me to any specific movies. My dad isn't a big movie fan (I don't ever remember him going to a movie). My mom didn't so much introduce us to movies except for maybe Wizard of Oz, and I know she looooooved The Jazz Singer and Grease. 

Neil Diamond version?

tenor.gif?itemid=10901959

But, yeah, my parents didn't really introduce me to many (if any) movies. Or music for that matter. I had to pick it all up on the streets.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

I suppose, but had they not done it, someone else would have. It's not like they directed it. It's revolutionary because it was the first, not because it it was groundbreaking. No one knows - or really cares - who hit the first home run. It's not that it's not important, but it's more of a foot note. What people care about are people like Micky Mantle and Babe Ruth. People who elevated it to an art form. (Not that this isn't art.)

I'll argue pretty hard that being the first in art does matter but I don't think that's what you're saying. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think you're saying that the Marx brothers kind of got lucky being the first which cemented their legacy.

I don't think that's the case at all. Once sound films became not just a novelty and could be made reliably, recording comedians doing their thing is pretty natural. The Marx brothers weren't the only comedians in talking pictures at the time. Wheeler and Woolsey didn't make the list. WC Fields didn't make the list. Three Stooges didn't make the list. The Marx brothers did and are still widely named as influential in the way a lot of comedians from this period aren't. I think it's because they were better at it than everyone else (partly my taste but I think they did objectively do it better than a lot of people. Some of that is getting great people like Leo McCarey and Raquel Torres but the Marx Brothers made several great movies without almost everyone here (except Margaret Dumont)

 

EDIT: I think this reads way more intense than I mean it.  I'm just saying it wasn't just being early; they were great. 

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2 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

What I keep coming back to as I think about Duck Soup is something Conan said about it being "comedy just for comedy's sake." This was always why I liked Conan's show so much (I grew up on his show, it was huge for me). And it's what I like most about Duck Soup. But Duck Soup is jokes. Funny jokes. Slapstick jokes. Wordplay jokes. Visual film jokes.  Mean finger-pointing jokes. Self-deprecatory jokes.  Vaudeville, stand-up, situational, improv, musical.  You name the type of comedy, they did it and did it better than nearly everyone.  It's unbound to logic or story, which sure, is weird and takes getting used to, but pulling that off is WHY this should be on the list, imo. 

But Conan’s show has a set format each night: monologue, banter, interview, skit, musical guest (not necessarily in that order every night). Each self contained segment works by itself.  I don’t think Duck Soup worked for me because the interesting bits were sort of sprinkled throughout the movie like separate skits.  Taken alone, the mirror gag is amazing. But did it move the story along? I don’t know. And I don’t even know if story telling is important in a Marx Bros movie.  The song and dance numbers didn’t help either. 

I hear you though about Conan’s show.  I grew up watching it too. I still remember staying up late to watch his debut episode and I remember thinking, this is the most nervous person I’ve ever seen on tv. But you’re right, there was a definite Marx Bros-quality about his schtick that drew me in. So if Conan’s show exists because of Duck Soup, then thank goodness for Duck Soup!

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I can't say Duck Soup did anything in terms of comedy. I enjoyed some of the word play, but slapstick is just not my style. I also don't find it to be that innovative. It seems to me that they took their vaudeville act(s) and applied it to cinema now that they moved to talkies. The one thing I kept thinking when watching it was, "yeah, that would definitely not play in a silent film!" Did I think the mirror scene was great? Of course! But I'm not left really feeling like they did anything all that special for film. 

I agree with what's been said already, that I think it's a bunch of gags and word play strung together with no real story. I felt like I watched a variety sketch show with vignettes that were sort of related, but I don't feel like I watched a cohesive movie. It was okay, but I think there are a lot of really great comedies that could take it's place. Definitely something like Airplaine!* or Blazing Saddles.

*At age 6 or 7, Airplane was the first time I ever saw boobs in a movie. That definitely stuck with me. 

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4 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Neil Diamond version?

tenor.gif?itemid=10901959

But, yeah, my parents didn't really introduce me to many (if any) movies. Or music for that matter. I had to pick it all up on the streets.

Yes, Neil Diamond! I thought Coming to America was it's sequel before I saw it. 

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23 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I'll argue pretty hard that being the first in art does matter but I don't think that's what you're saying. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think you're saying that the Marx brothers kind of got lucky being the first which cemented their legacy.

I don't think that's the case at all. Once sound films became not just a novelty and could be made reliably, recording comedians doing their thing is pretty natural. The Marx brothers weren't the only comedians in talking pictures at the time. Wheeler and Woolsey didn't make the list. WC Fields didn't make the list. Three Stooges didn't make the list. The Marx brothers did and are still widely named as influential in the way a lot of comedians from this period aren't. I think it's because they were better at it than everyone else (partly my taste but I think they did objectively do it better than a lot of people. Some of that is getting great people like Leo McCarey and Raquel Torres but the Marx Brothers made several great movies without almost everyone here (except Margaret Dumont)

Yeah, that's not quite what I'm saying. I'm not saying they were lucky necessarily. I'm not saying they weren't brilliant and don't deserve to be recognized. I just don't know that Duck Soup, as a movie judged on its own merits - and not just as a Comedy - deserves to be on a list of best *movies* ever. All these movies we talk about always seem to have to jump through so many hoops to be included. We all bring up the lighting, the camera work, the writing, the mythology, the labor, the acting ability, but for some reason this one gets in because of clever wordplay? I'm not judging it against Animal House; I'm judging it against Schindler's List.

On this thread, I've already put forth three other comedies I'd rather see, and since I brought up Brooks, I'd add Young Frankenstein to that list (although Blazing Saddles is probably the more obvious choice). That's not to mention non-comedies that are probably even more deserving. 

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8 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Yes, Neil Diamond! I thought Coming to America was it's sequel before I saw it. 

I need to party with your mom :)

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29 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Exactly, comedy is so subjective. Duck Soup didn‚Äôt make me laugh even once ūüôä

I smiled indulgently.

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13 hours ago, Cam Bert said:

Just started the episode but I must chime in, Kraken spiced rum is delicious and everybody should listen to Paul and try it.

With a medusa cocktail as a chaser?  Or would you be afraid it'd just give you kidney stones?

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1 minute ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

HA!!!  Her love of the Diamond rubbed off on me. 

We are part of a blessed tribe.

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