Duck Soup (1933)

70 or 80 mins | Comedy | 17 November 1933

Director:

Leo McCarey

Cinematographer:

Henry Sharp

Editor:

LeRoy Stone

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Wiard B. Ihnen

Production Company:

Paramount Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The opening title card to the film reads "Paramount presents The Four Marx Brothers in Duck Soup ." As noted by a May 1933 news item in MPH , the Marx Brothers left Paramount prior to making this film and filed suit against the studio over withheld profits. According to a modern source, the Marx Brothers planned to form a production company with Sam H. Harris. However, they resolved their differences with the studio and returned to fulfill their contractual agreement to make this fourth, and final, film for Paramount. According to information in the Paramount story files at the AMPAS Library, Grover Jones contributed to an early, temporary script entitled Cracked Ice , which Herman J. Mankiewicz was scheduled to supervise. A news item in HR indicates that M-G-M loaned Norman Krasna to Paramount to write an opening sequence for this film. His contribution to the final film has not been determined. Copyright records list Harpo Marx's character as "Brownie."
       Duck Soup was the last Marx Bros. film in which Zeppo Marx appeared. Modern sources note that Edward Kaufman and Keene Thompson were hired as writers, but left the production after a short time. Although modern critics cite this film as one of the Marx Brothers' best, and in 2007 the picture was ranked 60th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 85th position it held on AFI's 1997 list, Duck Soup did not receive significant contemporary acclaim. Because box-office figures for the film were lower than anticipated, the brothers' ... More Less

The opening title card to the film reads "Paramount presents The Four Marx Brothers in Duck Soup ." As noted by a May 1933 news item in MPH , the Marx Brothers left Paramount prior to making this film and filed suit against the studio over withheld profits. According to a modern source, the Marx Brothers planned to form a production company with Sam H. Harris. However, they resolved their differences with the studio and returned to fulfill their contractual agreement to make this fourth, and final, film for Paramount. According to information in the Paramount story files at the AMPAS Library, Grover Jones contributed to an early, temporary script entitled Cracked Ice , which Herman J. Mankiewicz was scheduled to supervise. A news item in HR indicates that M-G-M loaned Norman Krasna to Paramount to write an opening sequence for this film. His contribution to the final film has not been determined. Copyright records list Harpo Marx's character as "Brownie."
       Duck Soup was the last Marx Bros. film in which Zeppo Marx appeared. Modern sources note that Edward Kaufman and Keene Thompson were hired as writers, but left the production after a short time. Although modern critics cite this film as one of the Marx Brothers' best, and in 2007 the picture was ranked 60th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 85th position it held on AFI's 1997 list, Duck Soup did not receive significant contemporary acclaim. Because box-office figures for the film were lower than anticipated, the brothers' Paramount contract was not renewed. Their next feature film was A Night at the Opera , produced by M-G-M (see below). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
17 Nov 33
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 33
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
20 May 33
p. 34.
Motion Picture Herald
14 Oct 33
p. 46.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Nov 33
p. 27.
New York Times
23 Nov 33
p. 24.
New York Times
10 Dec 33
p. 7.
Variety
28 Nov 33
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITERS
Story
Story
Addl dial
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Mus adv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hail, Freedonia" and "The Country's Going to War," music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Cracked Ice
Release Date:
17 November 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 November 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4246
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70 or 80
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Wealthy widow Gloria Teasdale forces the government of Freedonia to accept Rufus T. Firefly as its leader. Firefly's outrageous public behavior offends Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania, who with the help of his confederate, dancer Vera Marcal, intends to take control of Freedonia by marrying Mrs. Teasdale. Firefly, who also makes occasional love to Mrs. Teasdale after learning of her fortune, has in his employ two of Trentino's spies, Chicolini and Pinky, whose battles with a street vendor of lemonade are more effective than their espionage. Firefly's secretary, Bob Roland, decides that Firefly must insult Trentino so that the latter may be deported, and Firefly handles the job with enthusiasm, bringing the two countries to the brink of war. Chicolini and Pinky attempt to steal Freedonia's war plans by impersonating Firefly, and though Firefly is temporarily persuaded that Pinky is his own reflection in a mirror, the job results in Chicolini's capture and trial for treason. Several efforts by Mrs. Teasdale, Trentino and Marcal to effect a reconciliation between Firefly and Trentino only result in Firefly repeating his offensive behavior, and war is finally declared. Chicolini begins the war on the side of Sylvania but soon joins Pinky on Freedonia's side, and Freedonia's soldiers under Firefly's unorthodox command, eventually capture Trentino and emerge ... +


Wealthy widow Gloria Teasdale forces the government of Freedonia to accept Rufus T. Firefly as its leader. Firefly's outrageous public behavior offends Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania, who with the help of his confederate, dancer Vera Marcal, intends to take control of Freedonia by marrying Mrs. Teasdale. Firefly, who also makes occasional love to Mrs. Teasdale after learning of her fortune, has in his employ two of Trentino's spies, Chicolini and Pinky, whose battles with a street vendor of lemonade are more effective than their espionage. Firefly's secretary, Bob Roland, decides that Firefly must insult Trentino so that the latter may be deported, and Firefly handles the job with enthusiasm, bringing the two countries to the brink of war. Chicolini and Pinky attempt to steal Freedonia's war plans by impersonating Firefly, and though Firefly is temporarily persuaded that Pinky is his own reflection in a mirror, the job results in Chicolini's capture and trial for treason. Several efforts by Mrs. Teasdale, Trentino and Marcal to effect a reconciliation between Firefly and Trentino only result in Firefly repeating his offensive behavior, and war is finally declared. Chicolini begins the war on the side of Sylvania but soon joins Pinky on Freedonia's side, and Freedonia's soldiers under Firefly's unorthodox command, eventually capture Trentino and emerge victorious. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.