The third in a series reviewing the American Film Institute Top 100 in random order.

 Duck Soup poster at

“Now that you’re Secretary of War, what kind of an army do you think we ought to have?” – Groucho Marx as Rufus T Firefly

“Well, I’ll tell you what I think. I think we should have a standing army.” – Chico Marx as Chicolini

“Why should we have a standing army?”

“‘Cause then we save money on chairs.”


I tried. I really, REALLY tried to like this movie. Everything I read says it’s a classic, the best of the Marx Brothers films. Maybe the jokes were funnier back in 1933, but eighty years on, they just don’t hold up. They’re obvious, you’ve heard them a hundred times, and you can see the punchlines coming a mile away. It’s supposed to be a commentary on fascism, so much so that Benito Mussolini banned it in Italy, but when the dictator is the guy getting most of the laughs (or at least, he should be), the satire loses its bite. At 68 minutes, at least it had the benefit of being brief.

There’s another Marx Brothers film on the AFI Top 100, so I hope it’s better than this. As it stands, I’m beginning to wonder if the average movie-goer in the 1930s was a ten year-old child. That’s the level of humor on display here.


Up next in the queue, 1974′s Chinatown, in which our hero finds out what happens to nosey fellows.

Click here for an Index of my AFI Top 100 movie reviews.