At the Movies

Michael Wood

Leo McCarey’s Duck Soup (1933) has one of the cinema’s great moments of sceptical philosophy. Chico and Harpo Marx, both disguised as Groucho, are in Margaret Dumont’s bedroom, though Chico is hiding under the bed. Harpo departs and Chico suddenly appears. Dumont is shocked. Didn’t he just leave? Chico says he didn’t, and Dumont says she saw him with her own eyes. Chico says: ‘Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?’ Dumont was right to believe her own eyes, but wrong (twice) to believe that a person who looked like Groucho was Groucho.

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