Jump to content
JulyDiaz

Duck Soup

Duck Soup  

10 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Does Duck Soup belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes 🥜
      8
    • No 🍋
      2

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closed on 11/09/18 at 08:00 AM

Recommended Posts

19 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

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!

Sure, but if we want to go that route, we can find forms in Marx Brothers movies too.  They do play the same characters more or less, every time.  They're usually up against some sort of power figure/power structure.  Duck Soup loses a few of the norms of their earlier vaudeville-ier movies (romances, songs, etc.), but there's still some structure.  The story is nonsense, sure, but it's not pure disconnected bits.   

Conan's point though was that they focused solely on comedy. Nobody in here is doing it, Paul & Amy did a little at the end of the show, but focusing on the political angles of Duck Soup misses the point.  Mussolini missed the point, haha.  Anyway, that's what I believe Conan meant.  Conan out of nowhere could have Frankenstein wander out and be weird, and it was hilarious.  Harpo could end up in someone's bathtub for no reason in the same way.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
19 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

but for some reason this one gets in because of clever wordplay

As one of the only ones defending Duck Soup here, I'm not being very clear I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
33 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

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.'" 

I'm just built differently, because I laugh at the same jokes over and over, and I love all kinds of wordplay, good and bad puns alike.  I currently watch Duck Soup about once every year or so, and it cracks me up every time.  And you list the "eliminate" gag as an example of a flat joke, but there's a very simple exchange in that scene that is one of my all-time favorite dumb puns:

Quote

 

Chicolini: Hey, I got an uncle lives in Taxes!

Prosecutor: No, I'm talking about taxes - money, dollars!

Chicolini: Dollas! There's-a where my uncle lives! Dollas, Taxes!

 

I'm giggling now just copying and pasting it, and I think about this and laugh to myself every couple months.  So I guess what I'm saying is that Duck Soup feels like it was made specifically for me, because it's just wall-to-wall with stuff that makes me laugh.

Share this post


Link to post

But at the same time, boiling this down to just the wordplay really diminishes the gifts of Harpo.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
52 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

How does your mom feel about Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)?

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours 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? 

So, by one note, you mean it lacks any emotional depth.  I hear ya.  I suspect most of the comedies on the list have something else going for them than just the superficial lols.  I still need to rewatch Duck Soup though (in the process of it).  I remember laughing pretty hard the first time I saw it though.

Related to things Amy wanted on the list, such as Clueless or Fast Times at Ridgemont High (actually I'll just say Clueless, because my recollection of the latter is terrible at this point), I remember thinking, "yeah, but, rather than try to argue these should be on there instead of war movies, you might want to first tackle the topic of dearth of comedies on these type of lists if that's what you're trying to advance." Which is where the current conversation seems to be working itself around to (I think the When Harry Met Sally example you brought later though probably would stand a decent chance to make the AFI list behind it.  Though so would Groundhog's Day and I feel like that latter has more of a following these days.  Maybe because of the dramedy turn Bill Murray's career is where it's currently at, as opposed to Billy Crystal's or Meg Ryan's).  A lot of the reasons why I think there aren't more comedies on these lists though are issues you brought up in later posts; namely if the movie only has laughs, then their rewatchability often feels limited.  I suspect the surprise element of comedy has something to do with it.

Though, with all that said, it surprised me tallying comedies on the AFI list, there's a lot more comedies on there than I expected (20, so... 1 in 5 movies could be considered a comedy).

People can correct me if I missed any or am misrepresenting them as comedies (some I haven't seen).  I do present it though for people to pick apart what type of comedies seem to make it onto this list.

5. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) ^*
11. CITY LIGHTS (1931) $*
17. THE GRADUATE (1967) +*
18. THE GENERAL (1927) $
22. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) 

28. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) $@-
35. ANNIE HALL (1977) ? (it's been long enough, I don't feel comfortable classifying this one)
39. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) +@
44. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) &
54. M*A*S*H (1970) +&

58. THE GOLD RUSH (1925) $?
60. DUCK SOUP (1933) 
64. NETWORK (1976) +@
69. TOOTSIE (1982) ?
78. MODERN TIMES (1936) ?

80. THE APARTMENT (1960) @&
85. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)
88. BRINGING UP BABY (1938) *
90. SWING TIME (1936) ^*?
99. TOY STORY (1995) !

*: Romantic-Comedy
+: Satire
&: Drama-Comedy
@: Dark Comedy
$: Silent
^: Musical
?: Not Sure of classifications, probably haven't seen
!: Early Computer Animated movie
-: Arguably a comedy in a dark sense, like Fargo or To Die For.  Though the comedy came primarily in the form of verbal barbs rather than situational absurdism.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
40 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

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. 

That's fair. I'm not really arguing this needs to be in your top 100 or an official top 100. I'm arguing against the someone else would have done it idea because other people were doing it. It's just the Marx Brothers lived on longer than their contemporaries (except maybe the Three Stooges) for a reason.

I would put Young Frankenstein on the list over Blazing Saddles in a heartbeat. I laughed harder I Ain't Got Nobody as a 9 year old than maybe any single bit in my life.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Bringing Up Baby is definitely a comedy.  It's weird af too, I look forward to what you all think. It definitely has a story, but it's so bizarre to me, I can't get my head around it.  Haha. I hope we come up on that one soon.

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Bringing Up Baby is definitely a comedy.  It's weird af too, I look forward to what you all think. It definitely has a story, but it's so bizarre to me, I can't get my head around it.  Haha. I hope we come up on that one soon.

I have a super controversial opinion on Bringing Up Baby. Not only is Who's That Girl with Madonna a remake of Bringing Up Baby but I prefer Who's That Girl.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
5 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Bringing Up Baby is definitely a comedy.  It's weird af too, I look forward to what you all think. It definitely has a story, but it's so bizarre to me, I can't get my head around it.  Haha. I hope we come up on that one soon.

 

4 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

@ol' eddy wrecks I think Philadelphia Story leans more drama-comedy and Bringing Up Baby is more of a screwball rom-com.

Changing Bringing Up Baby to a rom-com and changing Philadelphia Story to Drama-Comedy.

I have the vague recollection of having seen Bringing Up Baby as a teenager once as a type of fact (as in, it's an event I think happened in my life), but I have absolutely no recollection of the movie, itself.  Like anything.  At all.

Share this post


Link to post

Wait a second! Is The Graduate a comedy? I saw it back in high school and thought it was just a drama!

Share this post


Link to post
26 minutes ago, bleary said:

But at the same time, boiling this down to just the wordplay really diminishes the gifts of Harpo.

Honestly, I was just being sarcastic with the wordplay thing. My point is, this movie doesn’t feature a lot of the things we tend to include when judging the worthiness of these movies, but suddenly it’s okay that those things aren’t present. Despite all its brilliant use of lighting, Psycho maybe shouldn’t be included because the second half quite isn’t as memorable as the first, but Duck Soup is...funny? That’s where I’m stuck.

Harpo is wonderful. They are all great. And I’m only saying that again because I feel like this has begun to boil down to “I like it and you don’t,” but that’s not what I’m saying.

It’s great. I’m just having trouble understanding why it should be considered one of the best American film beyond and I haven’t heard anything really compelling beyond “I like it and it makes me laugh so it should be there.” I mean, I like Miami Connection, but I don’t think it belongs on the AFI’s list -lol.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Want to get this in before getting back to the re-watch:

My standard list comparison post

AFI (2007 | 1997): 60th | 85th

BFI Critic's poll, 2012 (ranking, US filtered ranking, votes): 202(all), 89 (US), 8 votes

BFI Director's poll, 2012 (ranking, US filtered ranking, votes): 546, 229.32* N/A (US), 1 votes

IMDB (rank, rating): ??, 8.0 rating (it looks like number 250 on the list has a 8.0 rating)

Metascore: can't find one

TSFDT (ranking, US filtered ranking): 154th, TBD

Oscar BP status: not nominated, winner Cavalcade

Box Office Ranking* (rank, amount | highest grossing movie, HGM amount): Not close to the top, but I'm having a hard time getting reliable and consistent set of box office numbers for earlier films that it's at the point that I question the point of putting down the info (definitely dollar amounts).  Sites seem to differ between Cavalcade and King Kong.

*: 42 of the top 100 are US films, I'm extrapolating to guess its US-filtered rank

Hot take on all of those: I don't know; lots of people like this movie?  It seems to fit with Paul's thought of maybe spots 50-100 are good places for entertaining movies, because when filtering down to US films, that's where it seems to be landing on a lot of the lists.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I was trying real hard to not just be "I like it and it makes me laugh" but I guess I'll keep thinking about it some more. 

Actually our convo has led to me deciding that on this off-week, I'm going to watch a bunch of classic comedies.  Because I think that there is something objective to them being great.  I'm just not sure what that is...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
12 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

Wait a second! Is The Graduate a comedy? I saw it back in high school and thought it was just a drama!

Indeed it is!  Though it's an amalgam of different genres.  The plastics line is meant as comedy (and I'd assume social satire).  There's a scene where they go into the hotel where it's comedy.  Mike Nichols (the director) and Elaine May (which we mentioned in the previous thread) were a comic team.  How much is comedy vs drama though, that's something to be debated.  And also partially why it's included.  Related to Cameron's point earlier, maybe it's hard for straight comedies to get onto these lists.  Like, we're going to include comedies, but only if they're mixed with something else (or if it's a something else mixed with comedy).  It's been a little while since I've seen The Apartment.  I think that one's a comedy, but it gets pretty dark.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
8 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

It’s great. I’m just having trouble understanding why it should be considered one of the best American film beyond and I haven’t heard anything really compelling beyond “I like it and it makes me laugh so it should be there.” I mean, I like Miami Connection, but I don’t think it belongs on the AFI’s list -lol.

You might be right!  It might just be on the list because it made more of the voters laugh than Airplane! did.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I was trying real hard to not just be "I like it and it makes me laugh" but I guess I'll keep thinking about it some more. 

Actually our convo has led to me deciding that on this off-week, I'm going to watch a bunch of classic comedies.  Because I think that there is something objective to them being great.  I'm just not sure what that is...

No, that’s cool. I think you’re right about the Comedies having *something* but Hell if I know what it is. Like, I can already see my future hypocrite arguing against you all for one of the other Comedies on the list - lol

And honestly, I hope you all know I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m just trying to  understand. :)

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, bleary said:

You might be right!  It might just be on the list because it made more of the voters laugh than Airplane! did.  

There might also be an aspect of, "Well, this movie from a long time ago still can make us laugh, which increases our confidence that decades from now, we'll still be laughing at it, so it must be legitimately funny!  We don't know if we laugh at Airplane because we grew up with it though.  It might not age well."

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Pass it on to the next generation  

Loved the Marx bros growing up and was delighted one Saturday morning while watching Monkey Business, I left the room and heard my 7 year old son howling at Harpo. He even dressed up as him for Halloween.  He’s seen them all since and Duck Soup is both our favorite. 

Amy was right on with her Jim Carrey comment.  He’s the only comic my son has laughed just as hard at

Conan’s comment about references in the simpsons reminds me of watching looney tunes and later in life understanding all the references they were making to old movies 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

It is a weird genre for this sort of debate.  Like I said early, I love Duck Soup but I don't know how high it'd be on my personal fave list.  Hell, I'd rather watch UHF.  And I don't think that should be anywhere near the AFI list.  But I do think Duck Soup should.  So who knows what's going on here?  I want to square it.

One thing I was trying not to do though is diminish comedy. Duck Soup is doing comedy and that's it. That to me should be enough for consideration. Do we demand Hitchcock be more romantic?  Scorsese be more funny?  Why does Duck Soup need more pathos?  Comedy should be valid on its own too.  That's where Duck Soup gets me.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

It is a weird genre for this sort of debate.  Like I said early, I love Duck Soup but I don't know how high it'd be on my personal fave list.  Hell, I'd rather watch UHF.  And I don't think that should be anywhere near the AFI list.  But I do think Duck Soup should.  So who knows what's going on here?  I want to square it.

One thing I was trying not to do though is diminish comedy. Duck Soup is doing comedy and that's it. That to me should be enough for consideration. Do we demand Hitchcock be more romantic?  Scorsese be more funny?  Why does Duck Soup need more pathos?  Comedy should be valid on its own too.  That's where Duck Soup gets me.

UHF is easily a top 100 and the AFI is dumb for not even shortlisting it. I could watch it over almost any comedy. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
10 minutes ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

There might also be an aspect of, "Well, this movie from a long time ago still can make us laugh, which increases our confidence that decades from now, we'll still be laughing at it, so it must be legitimately funny!  We don't know if we laugh at Airplane because we grew up with it though.  It might not age well."

This is a good point.  The longer that a piece of comedy remains fresh, the more it's seen as something singular, or elemental.

I also think there's probably a bit of bias against parodies and spoofs for this reason.  Someone might justifiably ask whether a film that derives humor from defying the expectations formed from previous work will hold up as well over time.  Of course, I think it's safe to say that the best parody films, like Airplane! or Blazing Saddles absolutely transcend any reliance on audience knowledge of the previous work.  Whereas something like Austin Powers (also on the AFI ballot!) probably does not.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, tomspanks said:

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

 

1 hour 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

Being a little kid in the 80s and growing up in California, it was niners for me.  And also televised golf.  He was more of a, if a movie he recognized was on TV on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, he might turn it on.  And then doze off on the couch.  Maybe that's why he liked televised golf so much.

For some reason I think he did like the big Hitchcock movies, but my memory is hazy and I don't have more recent memories to compare against.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
11 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

It is a weird genre for this sort of debate.  Like I said early, I love Duck Soup but I don't know how high it'd be on my personal fave list.  Hell, I'd rather watch UHF.  And I don't think that should be anywhere near the AFI list.  But I do think Duck Soup should.  So who knows what's going on here?  I want to square it.

One thing I was trying not to do though is diminish comedy. Duck Soup is doing comedy and that's it. That to me should be enough for consideration. Do we demand Hitchcock be more romantic?  Scorsese be more funny?  Why does Duck Soup need more pathos?  Comedy should be valid on its own too.  That's where Duck Soup gets me.

Regarding pathos, I’m not saying it there’s anything wrong with Comedy for Comedy’s sake. But when we’re talking about the *best* movies, I think a broader pallet enriches the product. I’m not saying Hitchcock should be romantic, but his best movies do tend to include romance, and humor, and action, and so forth.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×