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Duck Soup

Leo McCarey (1933)
68 minutes

Welcome back to LAYKA Lens! For the next installment in our series, join us on Wednesday, November 17 at 7 pm Eastern / 4 pm Pacific as we take a look at Leo McCarey’s 1933 pre-code Marx Brothers classic political farce, DUCK SOUP.

You can stream the film on Amazon, Apple, YouTube, or the streaming platform of your choice anytime before we meet and then join us on Facebook or YouTube for the live discussion.

DUCK SOUP features songs written by vaudeville songwriting team Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with slapstick dialogue by Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman, whom Groucho called “the fastest wit in the West.” The collective talent in this film would go on to shape and influence American comedy indelibly. While critics at the time felt that DUCK SOUP fell short, the film is now widely considered to be a comedy masterpiece and the Marx Brothers’ finest film.

The last film to feature all four Marx Brothers, Groucho plays the newly installed president of the mythical country of Freedonia, with Zeppo as his secretary, and Harpo and Chico acting as spies for the rival imaginary country of Sylvania. With the making of the film coinciding with Hitler’s rise to power and the spread of fascism across Europe, McCarey and the Marx Brothers bring subversive commentary to this particular moment in history, calling into question the absurdity of war through physical comedy, expertly-crafted innuendo, and now classic sight gags.

Joining the panel will be featured LAYKA contributor J. Hoberman, NYT critic and author of an aptly-timed new book, Duck Soup (BFI Classics); Boris Dralyuk, Executive Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and co-sponsor of this series; Violet Lucca, writer and Digital Director of Harper’s Magazine; and moderated by Rob Adler Peckerar, Executive Director of Yiddishkayt.

Stream DUCK SOUP in advance on Amazon, YouTube, or Apple TV, before we meet, then join us on Facebook or YouTube for the live conversation.

The LAYKA Lens film series is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

This month’s LAYKA panel includes:

Moderator: Rob Adler Peckerar

Executive Director

Boris Dralyuk

Los Angeles Review of Books

J. Hoberman

Author, Film Critic, Professor of Cinema Studies
New York Times, Artforum, Columbia University
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    Watch the original trailer for DUCK SOUP!