Duck Soup

Synopsis: Duck Soup is a 1933 Marx Brothers comedy film written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin, and directed by Leo McCarey. First released theatrically by Paramount Pictures on November 17, 1933, it starred what were then billed as the "Four Marx Brothers" (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) and also featured Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres and Edgar Kennedy. It was the last Marx Brothers film to feature Zeppo, and the last of five Marx Brothers movies released by Paramount Pictures.
Genre: Comedy, Musical, War
Production: Paramount Pictures
  2 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
68 min

The story begins with an opening shot on the exterior

of the executive mansion. It is a gala day. Soldiers are

lined up in front of the entrance; expensive cars and car-

riages are arriving and depositing distinguished notables

from the adjoining countries. Two trumpeters at the head of

the stairs announce the arrival of each notable.

In the large reception hall, Mrs. Teasdale, wife of

the late president, is greeting the newcomers. The room is

filled with distinguished guests. At the moment we see Mrs.

Teasdale, she is talking with a notable. In the near back-

ground is a group of distinguished men, members of her own

cabinet. Her words to the notable are not lost on them, and

as she begins to praise the new dictator, there is the ex-

change of disapproving glances.

Mrs. Teasdale

It is so good of you to come.


An honor, Mrs. Teasdale.... You must indeed have great faith

in your new dictator to give him such a magnificent reception.

Mrs. Teasdale

I feel that Rufus T. Firefly is the only logical successor to

my dear departed husband. He has the statesmanship of Glad-

stone, the humility of Lincoln, and the wisdom of Pericles.

The notable kisses her hand once more and leaves the

scene. As he does, the background group moves into Mrs.

Teasdale. Their spokesman addresses Mrs. Teasdale.

First Cabinet Member


Mrs. Teasdale, as members of Freedonia's cabinet, we do not

approve of your choice. Who is this Rufus T. Firefly?

Second Cabinet Member

(Waving aloft a paper)

A stranger in our midst, an agent for the Eureka Ammunition

Company. Think of it, Gentlemen, an ammunition salesman dic-

tating the policies of our peace-loving country.

Third Cabinet Member

Reconsider, Mrs. Teasdale, before it is too late. The citi-

zens of Freedonia want a President!

Mrs. Teasdale

As the widow of your last president, I have the right to

choose -- and, Gentlemen, I refuse to discuss the matter any


Mrs Teasdale turns her back on them, leaving them to

mumble among themselves.

From off scene comes a servant's voice, announcing:


His Excellency, Ambassador Verdi Trentino of Amnesia!

Cut... to the archway. We see Trentino enter with a

beautiful brunette at his side. He is followed by two or

three of his fellowmen. He moves across the reception hall

to Mrs. Teasdale, bows most graciously and presses his lips

to the back of her hand, then introduces his companion.


Mrs. Teasdale..... my niece, Vera.

Mrs. Teasdale shakes the girl's hand warmly.

Mrs. Teasdale

(To niece)

Your uncle has been such a friend to us in every crisis.

Without his country's financial aid --



What is money?


Mrs. Teasdale, for you -- I would do anything.

Mrs. Teasdale



(Attempting to change the subject)

I am so anxious for you to meet our new dictator.


(Persistent in his flattery)

Mrs. Teasdale -- no matter who rules Freedonia, to me you

will always be the first lady of the land.

Trentino attempts to take her hand. The latter is a

bit confused, much to the amusement of Vera, who laughingly



Mrs. Teasdale, my uncle's hopeless -- you've been the only

topic of conversation ever since we left Amnesia.

Mrs. Teasdale's confusion is happily interrupted by

the announcement of a servant, off scene.


The Honorable Mohamed Pandooh of Mufhtan!

Mrs. Teasdale


Oh, I must greet His Honor.

Mrs. Teasdale exits from the scene quickly. Vera and

Trentino look after her, then Vera laughs softly, as their

eyes meet.


So that's the one you want to marry.


With Mrs. Teasdale as my wife and Freedonia under my control --

(He rubs his hands significantly)


Maybe it's not going to be so easy. From what I've heard,

Mrs. Teasdale is rather sweet on this Rufus T. Firefly.


That's where you come in. I'll leave him in your hands, and

don't forget you're supposed to be my niece.

Vera winks agreeingly.

Mrs. Teasdale enters the scene with Bob Firefly (ZEPPO).

She introduces him.

Mrs. Teasdale

I want you to meet the son of His Excellency -- Bob Firefly....

Ambassador Trentino... his niece, Vera,

After the formalities of introducing, Trentino says:


Isn't it about time for the ceremony to begin, Mrs. Teasdale?


I do hope His Excellency won't be late.



My father makes it a point to always be on time. As long as

I've known him, he's never been late for an appointment.


But it's two minutes of ten now.


(As music begins)

His Excellency is due

To take his station.

Beginning his new


He'll make his appearance when

The clock on the wall strikes ten.

Mrs. Teasdale (singing)

When the clock on the wall strikes ten

All you loyal ladies and you patriotic men

Let's sing the national anthem when...

The clock on the all strikes ten.

The clock begins to strike the hour... one....

two.... three.... four....

All (Singing)

Hail, hail, Freedonia.....

Mightiest of mighty nations!

Hail, hail, Freedonia

Land of the brave and free.

This finishes on an operatic note with everybody with

outstretched hands turned toward the main door that connects

the reception hall with the outer hall.

Groucho doesn't appear and once more they all sing.

All (Singing)

Hail, hail, Freedonia....

Land of the brave and free.

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Arthur Sheekman

Arthur Sheekman (February 5, 1901 – January 12, 1978) was an American theater and movie critic, columnist, playwright and editor—but best known for his writing for the screen. His specialty was light comedy. Groucho Marx called him "The Fastest Wit in the West." more…

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