Now this is more like what we expect from a film starring Laurel & Hardy! Ignoring the vagrant costumes for a moment, Duck Soup is the first time we have the boys working together as a team and from all appearances their on screen characters are pretty much fully formed in this film. Okay, so there’s still quite a lot missing, such as Ollie’s bowler hat, little moustache and his tie twiddling and Stan’s trademark head scratching and crying – etc, etc, but you have to look at this film and think – that’s it! The studio had realised what quality they had on their hands after the first two attempts and had started to sculpt it into cinematic and comedic gold.
The story was based on a sketch entitled ‘Home From the Honeymoon’ written many years before by Stan’s father, Arthur J. Jefferson and the film reportedly sticks pretty close to it. I can’t even begin to guess as to what relation the title ‘Duck Soup‘ has to the plot, but the boys would revisit and effectively re-make the film in 1930, released under the title ‘Another Fine Mess’.
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This is enjoyable stuff to watch, as well as very interesting from a historical point of view in the boys character development. Some decent laughs here and Stan’s performance in drag as Agnes the maid is great (although its better in the sound short Another Fine Mess, as the ability for Stan to play with dialogue adds a lot more depth to his characterisation).
So, you’d be forgiven for thinking every film from here on in would build on the blocks of Duck Soup and the team as we know it would start to gain some traction….but sadly that wasn’t the case. There was still a further five films of playing random separate parts before Stan and Ollie got the chance to be a team once more, but after that there was no going back.
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