Saturday, December 14, 2013

Duck Soup (1933)

WHO: This is the last film starring the "Four Marx Brothers": Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo; it's also the only Marx Bros. film directed by a truly world-class auteur, in this case Leo McCarey.

WHAT: This film contains what must be the Marx's most brilliant single-scene contribution to the history of screen comedy: the "mirror" scene in which Groucho and Harpo (dressed as a doppelganger of his brother) encounter each other on opposite sides of a frame. So much has been said about this scene, and so much more can be, but there's nothing like watching it in the midst of fellow appreciators of Marxian comedy. Here's one article on the scene. Here's another.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens today & tomorrow at the Stanford Theatre at 6:10 & 9:20, at the Castro Theatre December 30th (at 2:20, 5:30 & 8:45), and at 3:00 on January 18th, 2014 at the Pacific Film Archive.

WHY: Whether you've been attending the weekly Marx Brothers/Preston Sturges double-bills at the Stanford this season, or just following along at home, I highly recommend you read an article published on the theatre website by local critic Richard von Busack on both. He focuses a bit more attention on Sturges, who left a signature on the Paramount Studio of the early 1940s as deep as that the Marx team did on that studio in the early 1930s, but has not stayed quite as present in popular culture for various reasons. But the article has some excellent insight into Groucho and his kin as well.

HOW: All of these screenings are on 35mm. The Stanford shows are double-bills with The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, and the Castro shows are double-bills with A Night At The Opera.

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