Hail, hail Freedonia (and French toast)

Sunday, February 11th, 2007 | All Things, Film, Friends

For the past several weeks, SYB had been tantalizingly tight-lipped about a surprise awaiting me this afternoon. When at last the day arrived, I was treated to a homemade Sunday brunch of challah french toast and crispy bacon — not part of the surprise — which I happily devoured with the B brothers while playing television catch-up.

46 Bliss Street

I inadvertantly spoiled everything by figuring out our destination just as we were setting out — probably because I already had the Marx Brothers on the brain. SYB seemed so crestfallen that I was tempted to continue claiming ignorance, but I sensed that my acting skills wouldn’t quite hold up during the long subway ride into Manhattan.

Still, the outing was no less diminished by my pre-knowledge: I’ve loved Duck Soup since childhood; J, J and I rewatched the film so many times — guffawing hysterically at the same corny jokes each time — that each of us could probably even now, decades later, recite most of the dialogue and songs verbatim. As Roger Ebert has noted, “to describe the plot would be an exercise in futility“; indeed, there is political satire, strategery, espionage, treason, nationalistic jingoism, musical numbers, romantic rivalry, international warfare… and not all of it quite ties together in a cohesive narrative. No matter: in this theater full of Upper West Side families, the near constant screaming laughter of young children stood testament to the film’s broad, continuing appeal.

Rewatching Duck Soup as an adult, I recognized once more how some of the jokes are not really all that appropriate for younger audiences. Some of the saucier/misogynistic bits surely escaped our grade school notice in the rapid-fire stream of one-liners and zany comedic bits. And sequences like the famous and famously mimickedMirror scene” require no measurable level of sophistication to appreciate. No wonder that the film was named one of the funniest American films of all time by the The American Film Institute (AFI) in 2000.

Symphony Space Duck Soup

Marx Bros Features

Sitting outside the theater, finishing off my contraband beverage before the double feature, we randomly crossed paths with AC, whom I hadn’t seen since our high school reunion last June; the time before was the reunion five years prior to that. Funny how through those six years of shared classes, I never realized that he and I also shared a common love for the Marx Brothers.

There's 1 comment so far ... Hail, hail Freedonia (and French toast)

March 1, 2007

I was really confused for the first few minutes of the film, but I just gave up trying to figure out what was happening and had fun.

Go for it ...