Justly considered one of the greatest film comedies of all time, Duck Soup is filled to bursting with gags from the Marx brothers. One of the greatest comedic teams in history, this anti-war, anti-nationalist satire (made soon after Hitler seized power in Germany) is an incredible showcase for their craft, meticulously honed on the vaudeville circuit.
Although the film’s plot is ostensibly about Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) waging war with a neighbouring country over a trifling matter, the unruly spirit of the Marx Brothers tramples over any attempt at narrative or logic. The film zigzags in a thousand preposterous directions, all in the absolute service of making you laugh. Director Leo McCarey later said of his experience making the film “The most surprising thing was that I succeeded in not going crazy, for I really did not want to work with them: they were completely mad.”
This is a great entry point if you’ve yet to become a full Marxist, with some of Groucho’s most iconic one-liners (‘ I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.’) and inspired physical comedy, especially the infamous ‘mirror scene’.