(NR), directed by Leo McCarey
Screens Tuesday at the Dryden
A plausible argument could be made that the greatest straight man in the history of cinema was actually a woman. Margaret Dumont, whose aristocratic sing-song belied the fact that she was born Daisy Baker in Brooklyn, served as the Marx brothers’ foil in many movies: mugging in an exceedingly good-natured way to a parade of cheap shots from Groucho, Chico, and Harpo on such topics as her age and Amazonian stature. “I can see you now in a hot kitchen bending over the stove. But I can’t see the stove,” Rufus T. Firefly tells Mrs. Teasdale in the legendary “Duck Soup,” which blends political satire with hilarious physical comedy and more than a couple pre-Code double entendres in the story of a financially troubled nation that goes to war. It’s perhaps the Marx brothers’ finest hour (and eight minutes).