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JulyDiaz

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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Omission (oops, wrong show): was anyone else scratching their head at Firefly's line "My father was a little headstrong, my mother was a little armstrong. The Headstrongs married the Armstrongs, and that's why darkies were born"?  It felt like a vaguely racist joke, but I had no reference so I did some Googling.  The internet says it's a reference to a 1931 song, "That's Why Darkies Were Born," and Wikipedia says it presents a satirical view of racism.  But I looked at the lyrics to the song and there was no mention of Headstrongs or Armstrongs, so I'm puzzled again.  Were Headstrong and Armstrong common surnames at the time?  

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I don't recall specifically what comedies my dad introduced me to, though I know my parents introduced my sister and I to Marx Brothers movies as kids, and we loved them, particularly A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races. I voted yes in the poll because I feel like Duck Soup is probably the most influential of the Marx movies, but when Opera comes up I may reconsider if it seems like the better choice. I haven't seen it in a long time.

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15 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

35. ANNIE HALL (1977) ? (it's been long enough, I don't feel comfortable classifying this one)

I'd say Annie Hall is definitely a romantic comedy, but one with some dramatic elements to it. It also probably gained some of its reputation for being the obvious move for Woody Allen into a more "serious" tone. But it's still a comedy.

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There's a (possibly apocryphal) story that when Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus/Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th St) was on his deathbed, a friend came to him and said "oh this must be difficult for you Teddy" to which he responded "not as difficult as dying", which is possibly a reference to something a Shakespearean actor named Edmund Kean had said, from which we derive "dying is easy, comedy is hard". 

I think that is why so few comedies have won the Academy Award for best picture. We know what scares people, we know what thrills people, we know what makes people cry (for the most part) but what makes people LAUGH? I have friends that loath Family Guy but adore Kevin Smith movies. I have friends that HATE Kevin Smith movies but love South Park. I have friends that don't like South Park but love King of the Hill. I have friends that don't like King of the Hill but enjoy Bob's Burgers. Some people like Big Bang theory and some people like Community. 

As someone who writes and performs mostly in theater and whose training is in comedic theater, comedy is DIFFICULT. That is why it is easier and faster for me to write a full dramatic play than it is to write a comedy. What I find funny others may not. I think this is also why you see so few comedies on "bad movie podcasts", it's easier to call out drama or horror or suspense that doesn't work or is crazy. Comedy is supposed to be a little insane.

What that all has to do with Duck Soup? Well I think Duck Soup is deserving, in fact I would have it higher than 60. Of all the films I've seen I would actually place it easily top 10 maybe even top 3. Why? Because The Marx Brothers and specifically Duck Soup is still influencing me today. 
 

One of my least produced (mainly because I don't know how to market it and so I don't), but favorite plays I've written, is a 3-man comedy called "The Way Out West Gang Rides Again" in which I steal the hat swapping bit from this movie and elements from The Marx Brothers Go West (they do something similar in that movie too, but with wallets I believe). But I also incorporate the rapid fire word play, the stopping and looking at the audience, etc. This comedy still works today. It's not just wordplay, it's not just slapstick, it's not just fast moving hands or mimicry (ala the Mirror scene). It is ALL OF IT plus there is a non-specific but slightly political message that can still be found, if you want to find it. Firefly could be an idiot who got promoted to power, but he could also Mussolini or he could be Donald Trump, or he could literally just be an idiot and there is no political connection there. That's what makes it smart comedy to me. The whole thing JUST WORKS. It influenced comedic filmmakers for generations and still does. The Beatles influenced their contemporaries and still influence people today that's what makes them great. Those that influenced The Beatles, you don't hear much about today. The Marx Brothers influenced contemporary comedians of their time and continue to influence modern  comedians.  You see their fingerprints on Hope and Crosby, on Woody Allen, on Mel Brooks, on Matt Groening, on Seth McFarland, on Monty Python, on H. Jon Benjamin and Loren Bouchard and on this writer. When I'm working on a comedy and I'm stuck, I don't watch Airplane or Caddyshack or Groundhog Day (as good as those are), I watch The Marx Brothers (and Jim Henson, Hope and Crosby)

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On 11/2/2018 at 1:07 PM, sycasey 2.0 said:

I'd say Annie Hall is definitely a romantic comedy, but one with some dramatic elements to it. It also probably gained some of its reputation for being the obvious move for Woody Allen into a more "serious" tone. But it's still a comedy.

I probably should have just included a screwball classification, since that's what I seemed to be dancing around.  What you're describing jives with my memory of it.  More serious than, say, Bananas or Sleeper, but not as dramatic as Manhattan or Hannah and her Sisters.

 

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I went to college at SUNY Fredonia. The town of Fredonia, NY is proud of the fact that the dictatorship of Freedonia was so named because of the shitty time the brothers had when they played a vaudeville show there. 

 

(Though the Wikipedia page is more kind) 

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My first exposure to the Marx Brothers was thanks to animated cartoons. Most specifically Bugs Bunny (always acknowledged as an homage) and also the 90s series Animaniacs

 

 

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On 11/1/2018 at 10:18 PM, Cam Bert said:

I don't know what that is but curious to find out.

TBH, IDK.

The brand was called Kraken. I'm going to be making either cephalopod or 1981-Clash-of-the-Titans-based jokes.

I did confirm with google that such a cocktail exists. But really, that was a safe bet.

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There's not as many Duck Soup gifs on twitter as I thought, since the Marx Bros. are perfect for such things.  There is a lot from the mirror scene though!  

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Listened to this episode today and something that stuck out to me that I didn't see mentioned here was the lack of a romance plot as compared to the other Marx Bros movies and like Paul, I usually would check out when those plots came on screen. I think for me, the reason is because they feel so useless to the main plot. They could be lifted out and you're not losing anything. Animal Crackers is great and funny, but the romantic subplot is so boring that it could be lifted from the movie and you're not missing anything. The lack of one in Duck Soup I think helps the story flow so much better because you're not stopping everything for 2 bland characters making moon eyes at each other.

The one time I feel the romance works, ironically, is in the other Marx Bros movie on the AFI list, A Night At The Opera. The reason I think it works better there is that the romantic characters are actually woven into the main plot with the Marx Bros. There's a camaraderie amongst those characters. That helps a lot. It's not perfect, but they at least kind of matter.

I'll also give Zeppo a little due. His best laugh was in Animal Crackers when Groucho has him take a letter and after rambling on as only he can, Zeppo admits that he didn't think anything Groucho said was important so he omitted it from the letter. That got a genuine laugh from me. 

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