AFI #60: Duck Soup

If you don’t laugh while watching a Marx Brothers movie you are not a member of the human race. It’s just not possible to not laugh. If I ever end up on death row my last wish is going to be to watch a Marx Brothers marathon. I guarantee I’ll go out smiling.

Duck Soup is the second Marx Brothers feature on the AFI top 100, following A Night at the Opera at No. 85. I have to admit that if given the choice I preferred A Night at the Opera, but they are both hysterically funny films. In Duck Soup, Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly, the newly selected president of Freedonia and while he’s running around enjoying his time in the spotlight he is unaware of a secret plot my neighboring Sylvania which has designs on taking over Freedonia. Harpo and Chico play a pair of spies who have been asked to monitor the activities of Rufus T. Firefly. Hilarity ensues.

Like a lot of Marx Brothers features, the individual bits are more recognizable than the films. You may not have ever seen Duck Soup, but surely you have seen this famous scene:

Of course, the scene has been spoofed by tons of comedians including the famous spoof with Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx reenacting the scene in 1955 on an episode of I Love Lucy:

Trust me, if you’re ever feeling down go on YouTube and watch some Marx Brothers bits. They won’t solve your problems, but you’ll surely forget about them for a while.

Next Up: Nashville

AFI #85: A Night at the Opera

There’s a moment in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters in which Woody’s character is having an existential crisis and contemplates killing himself. As he wanders around New York, he stumbles into a random movie theater and it turns out the film playing is a Marx Brothers film. After a few minutes, Woody starts laughing and realizes that it’s the little moments — like enjoying a Marx Brothers film — that makes life worth living. He is so right.

I’m going to just go ahead and say it: if you don’t think the Marx Brothers are funny you are not a member of the human race. The Marx Brothers pretty much invented comedy, and not just slapstick humor but really clever comedy that keeps you on your toes. From Groucho’s word play to Harpo’s physical humor to Chico’s dim-witted “everyman” it’s all amazing and it leaves you in stitches. I had seen A Night at the Opera in the past, but that didn’t stop me from laughing out loud several times as I watched it again on my flight to Pittsburgh on Monday. The woman sitting next to me smiled each time I let loose a guffaw and it was probably louder than I thought because I was wearing a headset. I have to provide a clip for you because if you haven’t seen this you’ll crack up and even if you have you’ll be reminded how great these films are. Here’s a classic scene from A Night at the Opera:

A Night at the Opera was made in 1935 and it’s as funny today as it was back then. You know that saying that sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses? The Marx Brothers are the roses! Do yourself a favor and make some time in your life for A Night at the Opera or another classic Marx Brothers film.

Next up: Easy Rider