In 1933 when Hitler was coming to power, the Marx Brothers were making Duck Soup including this memorable anthem, parodying our tendency to rush to war, and not be quite sure why:
And here is the photo still of the Marx Brothers singing the lines:
They got guns,
We got guns,
All God’s chillun got guns!
I’m gonna walk all over the battlefield,
‘Cause all God’s chillun got guns!
to the tune of what was then called a ‘Negro Spiritual’
Critical commentary on the movie includes from Wikipedia:
When asked the significance of the film’s politics, Groucho only shrugged and said: “What significance? We were just four Jews trying to get a laugh.” Nevertheless, the Brothers were ecstatic when Benito Mussolinitook the film as a personal insult and banned it in Italy.
Despite the tepid critical response at the time, Duck Soup is now seen as a classic political farce. Film critic Danel Griffin believes that Duck Soup is “on par with other war comedies like Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, only slightly more unnerving in that Duck Soup doesn’t seem to realize it is anything more than innocent fluff.” Fellow film critic Roger Ebert believes, “The Marx Brothers created a body of work in which individual films are like slices from the whole, but Duck Soup is probably the best.” British film critic Barry Norman was slightly cautious about the Marx Brothers overall, but considered that Duck Soup was their best and included it in his 100 best films of all time.
Revived interest in the film (and other 1930s comedies in general) during the 1960s was seen as dovetailing with the rebellious side of American culture in that decade. American literary critic Harold Bloom considers the end of Duck Soup one of the greatest works of American art produced in the 20th century.
In 1990, Duck Soup was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Duck Soup the 29th greatest comedy film of all time. The film also scores a 94% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It is also one of the earliest films to appear on Roger Ebert‘s list of Great Movies.
Another testament to Duck Soup’s legacy is its recurring influence in various Woody Allen films. For example, in Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), a chance screening of Duck Soup convinces Allen’s character that life is still worth living, and he abandons his suicidal impulses