Nov 2, 2010

Book Review: Hail! Hail! Euphoria! Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup the Greatest War Movie Ever Made

Hail! Hail! Euphoria! Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup the Greatest War Movie Ever Made
Roy Blount. Jr.
HarperCollins, 2010

If you want to know the definition of a “gookie”*, then you must read Hail! Hail! Euphoria! Roy Blount Jr. approaches his history of the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup (1933) as a well-read fan, and he gleefully geeks out on bits of trivia like this one.

Hail! Hail! Euphoria! weaves a buoyant shot-by-shot analysis of the anarchic comedy with anecdotes, history and gossip about the Marx clan. There’s a nice history of the brothers, including a revealing tribute their devoted and determined mother Minnie (she sounds like a character. I would have liked to have seen her in the movies). Blount also pays tribute to matronly straight woman Margaret Dumont and director Leo McCarey, who was out of his element with the Marx boys, but directed a masterpiece nevertheless.

Blount’s research is extensive, and there are footnotes on nearly every page. Sometimes the footnotes take up most of the page. This often drove me crazy; I even threw the book down a couple of times because I was tired of constantly switching gears.

Despite my little fits, I couldn’t think of a bit of information that I didn’t want in the book or of a better way that it could have been presented. The movie is crazy, and the Marx Brothers are crazy, so a decent book about them has got to be crazy as well. I realized I was like one of the Marx's dupes—this book was kicking me in the butt, cutting the pockets out of my trousers, and destroying my hat, but it was brilliant, so I had to take it.

Hail! Hail! Euphoria! will be rewarding for classic movie fans and goofy bliss for Marx Brothers lovers.

*The Gookie is one of Harpo Marx’s most familiar crazy expressions—he bugs out his eyes, puffs out his cheeks and makes a fish face with his lips.


  1. Your review is hilarious! I'm glad you liked the book. Did Harper Collins send this to you or did you buy it?

    I guess I'm used to really long footnotes, especially after reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. However, I was a bit annoyed by the spreads in the Errolivia book which seemed to obstruct the flow of the narrative.

  2. Thanks! HC sent it. I'd heard a bit about it on Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! so I was excited to check it out. I do think that the footnotes were the best way to handle all that information. He got a lot into a short book!