MovieChat Forums > A Night at the Opera (1935) Discussion > Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera?

Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera?


Okay, I'm posing the big Marx question to all you you: Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera? Which is the best Marx movie?

Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting.

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Are those the only movies they made? I must have hallucinated Horse Feathers and Animal Crackers... Just say no to LSD, kids.

They are going to forcibly remove actress Daryl Hannah from the walnut tree. -CNN

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Oh, I know about all the others, and I like them too. I'm just saying, people always harp on about how great those two are, so which is really better? And maybe you should leave the stuff alone yourself and think about questions before you answer them.

Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting.

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Night At The OpPera has the most cohesive storyline of any of the MB movies. The screenplay flows from one scene to the other and you don't feel it's a bunch of comic skits. Duck Soup is a critical favorite because of the political satire. People feel they are smarter to like Duck Soup over ANATO because Opera is just funny.

If I had just one to take to a deserted island it would be ANATO by a hair.

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My vote goes to Opera. That one actually has a romantic duo that is likable and personally I think "Alone" is a great song. The only bad parts are the obligatory piano and harp solos by Chico and Harpo...but they're only a very small portion of the movie. And the Marxes total destruction of the opera at the end is hystertical!

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Thank you. I'm glad that someone else loved the romantic ship dock scene while singing "Alone" besides me. There's a whole another topic page for this film with one person after another badmouthing and saying how much they hate that scene. That scene was beautiful and full of pure old fashioned romance.

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I beg to differ. Say YES to LSD.

You must suspend all disbelief.

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Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers are about absurdity. Duck Soup is the only film that technically has them in charge of the world. Even the movie, itself, turns absurd when the help on the way to win the war is stock footage of police, firemen, cyclists, runners, swimmers, baboons, elephants and dolphins.

Nothing like that had happened in any earlier Marx movie, nor would it happen again, even in Opera, although in Go West their dialogue often plays deliberate havoc with the time frame.

I consider Opera a great film in spite of itself. We see the trends that will finally fester in the Big Store: Groucho as avuncular, Harpo as simply childlike not demonic, Harpo and Groucho as victims, the return of the juvenile and ingenue, and big musical numbers not meant for comic purposes.
When Thalberg died, all the new character traits went out of control.

But these are still new and used with restraint in ANATO, and the film has obviously been polished fine as a diamond by Thalberg supervising a raft of great creative people, include George S. Kaufman and Buster Keaton!

Yet, I'm not sure I put it second, either. I think it's neck and neck with Animal Crackers, not only because of Hooray for Captain Spaulding but because the brothers are at their most unremittently savage in that film. Harpo is both the hero and the villain. It's unique--the anti-ANATO.

I don't see the brothers as avuncular. Yet in Cocoanuts, Harpo demonstrates in his scene consoling Mary Eaton how to reconcile psychopathy with sweetness, and it isn't by being whipped by Cyril Ring.

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Duck Soup hands down.

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definately duck soup. by a long shot. although harpo running up the set background was awesome, the peanut vender scenes are like the best scenes in any movie ever

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Very different movies. Both are excellent, but I lean toward Opera. More polished, more professional. If they could only be remembered for one movie I would wish it to be this one.

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Big mistake, the Marx Brothers should not be remembered as polished, they are not the cast of Friends. Their roots are in vaudeville, best represented by the early Paramount films with material from playwrights like George S. Kaufman and S.J. Perelman... ANATO was fabricated by MGM, they had to lose their edge to please a larger audience... That was the beginning of the end.

I will return before you can say antidisestablishmentarianism. - Blackadder

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I vote A Night Night At Operaas it is a better movie. I think the Paramount anarchy five are closer to their vaudeville roots, those films lack a narrative structure.

On the other hand, I imagine seeing them on the stage for Animal Crackers or I'll Say, She Said (msp) probably was the best.

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I've enjoyed both pictures but "Duck Soup" is my fav movie by the Marx Bros.
in particular the "mirror scene" with Harpo and Groucho! it was so funny!

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If I have to choose between those two I say Duck Soup, but anyway I believe that the best movie from Marx Bros. is Horse Feathers

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I choose Duck Soup.

A Night at the Opera had many funny scenes and it's one of their best, but they really could have done without those dull scenes between Kitty Carlyle and Allan Jones. Duck Soup allows the anarchy to run free from beginning to end. Marx bros. films aren't about structure or orginization, they're about lunacy.

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Duck Soup is funnier, but I think ANATO is a better movie because the Marx Bros. are deconstucting Hollywood while in the middle of making a Hollywood movie. Kind of like the old story of them roasting potatos naked in Irving Thalberg's office. There's something about the resistance behind the scenes that gives more substance to the movie.

The irony is that yes, it was the beginning of the end. Eventually Thalberg smothered them completely.

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Opera without the just-singing and piano/harp scenes is more entertaining than Soap.

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And olded friend suggested I watch this movie as it was in his top 5 funniest movies of all time (he said a better movie than Duck Soup)
I just finished watching it, and even taking into account the era it was made, and perhaps the then "cutting edge" humor, I seriously did not laugh out loud once.
It was, overall a good movie, but not funny, as in laugh out loud.

I really dont have an interest in tracking down the harder to find Duck Soup to compare.

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Thalberg did not smother the Marx Brothers, as he died before their decline.

In fact Thalberg made two very important decisions to make the first two MGM great: First they needed a tighter narrative and second, they needed to rehearse their routines on stage where they were probably at their best. The thing I like best about the Night At The Opera, the comedy is so tight and the Marx Brothers are at their sharpest. At Paramount, they were awesome but they needed rehersals on the stage.

Thalberg protected the Marx Brothers from Mayer who allowed them to go into "B" movie. It was not like the Marx Brothers exactly fought MGM as they afford their talents to the movies but they really had little interest in the art of moviemaking. (That is reason why pull stunts on Thalberg because they could their routines on stage and radio.)

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If I have to choose between those two I say Duck Soup, but anyway I believe that the best movie from Marx Bros. is Horse Feathers

I agree. Duck Soup has the rich satirical content, but Horse Feathers has the brothers doing what they do best. The musical numbers are great ("Whatever It Is, I'm Against It" is even better than the War song, for my money). The only thing it is missing is Margaret Dumont. I rank A Night at the Opera fourth. Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones are terrible, and their singing is truly insufferable. I prefer A Day at the Races (cuter ingenue, Tutti Fruity Ice Cream trumps the stateroom scene and the sanity clause) despite its flaws.

So my ranking:

1. Horse Feathers
2. Duck Soup
3. A Day at the Races
4. A Night at the Opera
5. Animal Crackers/Monkey Business

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Between these two movies, I'd pick Duck Soup due to its lack of much musical content.


Supermodels...spoiled stupid little stick figures mit poofy lips who sink only about zemselves.

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