The country of Freedonia is in the middle of a financial crisis and on the brink of revolution. In order to gain a bail-out from the wealthy Mrs Teasdale, the government appoints Rufus T Firefly as its president. However, Mr Firefly shuns the pomp and pretentiousness of government; along with the prudence and rationality of it too. Meanwhile, the neighbouring country of Sylvania is plotting to overthrow Freedonia and sends Pinky and Chicolini to spy on Firefly. War seems inevitable.Written by
The film was influenced by two other projects that tangentially involved Marx Brothers alumni. Producer Herman J. Mankiewicz had just supervised the shooting of another Paramount comedy, Million Dollar Legs (1932), starring W.C. Fields. Herman's younger brother Joseph L. Mankiewicz had written that film's original story about a fictional country, Klopstokia, beset by chaotic foreign intrigue, nutty spies, and internal political strife. The cast even featured a young actress named Susan Fleming, playing the President's daughter, who was to become Harpo Marx's betrothed two years later. See more »
During the "To War, To War" number, when The Marx Brothers quartet are playing banjos and singing as they walk toward the camera, it is clear that Chicolini is only holding his banjo, not playing it. See more »
Secretary of Labor:
The Department of Labor wishes to note that the workers of Freedonia are demanding shorter hours.
Rufus T. Firefly:
Very well, we'll give them shorter hours. We'll start by cutting their lunch hour to 20 minutes.
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DUCK SOUP (1933) **** Arguably the greatest Marx Brothers film (yes even with Zeppo!) and the most consistently funny tailor-made to each sibling's talents with Groucho in his image-defining role as Rufus T. Firefly, the reluctant yet razor-tongued leader of mythical Freedonia leading his nation to war with Chico and Harpo lending a hand as literally hired help in propoganda. Best bits include the trial banter between Groucho and Chico and the climactic bunker sequence culminating in fruiting long-tormented straight woman Margaret Dumont. One for the film vaults: the three way mirror sequence with a trio of Grouchos. A true classic in every sense of the word.
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