The plot of Duck Soup doesn’t exist in any conventional sense. The fictional country of Freedonia appoints Groucho Marx their king but that isn’t the point. Duck Soup understands that plots exist not to make sense of the ensuing antics, but only to get Groucho into the center of attention for an hour.
This moral naysaying is shockingly against type for a film bursting with Copacabana headliners. Remember that these are the guys hired explicitly to hold a mic in one hand, a drink in the other, and to generate a fantasy of wealth and well-meaningness that makes thousands of less charming people mistake clubbing for having fun. Robin and the 7 Hoods is drastically less endearing than any of its hoods.
This early studio work for Mutual Films, of which One A.M. stands apart if not in medium then in conviction, is less decipherable now, as though it comes from an era when music was rhythm without tone. Mutual is Chaplin’s most uninhibited work however, the work with the least distance to travel from his brain to the screen.
Art isn’t just a product: it’s a testament to the beliefs that made it. What beliefs does Peter Rabbit celebrate? A belief in art or analytics, in magic or in marketing? I remember thinking the same of Kangaroo Jack, of which Peter Rabbit is more a successor than to Potter. At least it’s so disparate from itself that it says nothing about her and everything about us.