Tag Archives: Duck Soup

Review: Modern Times

Director: Charlie Chaplin
Year: 1936
Score: 5/10

A woman, clearly in fear, being chased by a strange man. Fear of rape = comedy gold..? Not so much.

A woman, clearly in fear, being chased by a strange man. Fear of rape = comedy gold..? Not so much.

Hugely disappointing not-quite-but-almost silent film from Charlie Chaplin, inexplicably one of his most acclaimed.

It really didn’t work for me; I appreciated the obvious commentary on the ills of the modern industrialised world, and the ending – though abrupt – was quite nice, but the actual comedy largely fell flat.

Maybe I’m just not a fan of simplistic physical comedy? That would explain why most of the bits I laugh at in Marx Brothers movies are clever wordplay rather than slapstick humour. Speaking of which, it’s somewhat amusing that Modern Times has 100% more duck-related comedy than Duck Soup does.

Review: Duck Soup

Director: Leo McCarey
Year: 1933
Score: 7/10

Hugely influential film. This scene clearly inspired one of The Godfather's most memorable moments.

Hugely influential film. This scene clearly inspired one of The Godfather’s most memorable moments.

Considering it was made 80 years ago, this Marx Brothers comedy – regarded as their best – holds up well. I only belly-laughed occasionally, but I smiled, snorted and chuckled throughout. Some of the physical comedy is good (the mirror sequence being a special highlight, later reprised by Woody Allen in Sleeper to less success), but it’s the dialogue and wordplay that’s most amusing. In contrast, the musical interludes aren’t very funny. At 68 minutes, it’s short for a feature film, but the length feels just right. I imagine it plays very well to young audiences, presuming they can stomach its obvious age.