Spencer Clarke Sound

Engineer and Editor, for Music and Post

Film Critique - Duck Soup

When the assignment for this blog post was clarified, I had to throw my list of potential movies for this semester out the window. While there are plenty of classic movies that I could have watched, a friend recommended Duck Soup to me, and I wish I hadn't wasted that hour of my time. Perhaps it's just the Marx Brothers' humor that is lost on me, or the lateness of the hour, but I didn't find this film all that funny. A lot of the humor is really dry, and while this may be 1930s custom, it feels very weird to sit alone in my room and laugh to this movie. A large portion of that can probably be contributed to the fact that this film was never intended for individual consumption. I'm fairly certain that VHS was not invented at that time.

Technically speaking, it was interesting to watch this movie after analytically viewing other modern films. If I had to guess, this was filmed using a single camera, and it does a marvelous job under that technical restriction. Keeping all of the extras in the same place from shot to shot must have been a massive undertaking. There were a few small glitches that I noticed, but nothing that entirely ruined the pacing of the film.

As a sound guy, the synching of audio was one of the most interesting portions for me. For a while, I thought that the film might have been recorded on a soundstage, then I realized how impractical that would have been, given that microphones were still effectively flat capsules inside of a frame at the time. So, the fact that all of the audio would have needed to be re-dubbed is an interesting and impressive fact. This would include all of the small sound effects; I did notice that there was some foley sound, but a lot of the time, there were small things that I expected to hear sound for, but didn't.

Even if not wholly enjoyable, this film has been an interesting delve into 1930s film culture.