Home | Movies | Duck Soup | Scene: His Excellency Is Due!
The Setup: Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) has just agreed to lend the country of Freedonia twenty million dollars, on the condition that Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is appointed President. We take you now to a ball in Firefly's honor. Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania (Louis Calhern), the famous dancer Vera Marcal (Raquel Torres), and Firefly's secretary, Bob Roland (Zeppo), are also present. (Note: all links in the text point to sound clips in Windows WAV format.)
Mrs. Teasdale: Oh, Your Excellency! We've been expecting you. As chairwoman of the reception committee, I extend the good wishes of every man, woman, and child of Freedonia.
Firefly: Never mind that stuff, take a card.
Mrs. Teasdale: Card? What will I do with the card?
Firefly: You can keep it. I've got 51 left. Now what were you saying?
Mrs. Teasdale: As chairwoman of the reception committee, I welcome you with open arms.
Firefly: Is that so? How late do you stay open?
Mrs. Teasdale: I've sponsored your appointment because I feel you're the most able statesman in all of Freedonia.
Firefly: Well, that covers a lot of ground...Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself. You'd better beat it. I hear they're going to tear you down and put up an office building where you're standing. You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. You know, you haven't stopped talking since I came here? You must've been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.
Mrs. Teasdale: The future of Freedonia rests on you. Promise me you'll follow in the footsteps of my husband.
Firefly: How do you like that? I haven't been on the job five minutes, and already she's making advances to me...Not that I care, but where is your husband?
Mrs. Teasdale: Why...He's dead.
Firefly: I'll bet he's just using that as an excuse.
Mrs. Teasdale: I was with him till the very end.
Firefly: Hmm! No wonder he passed away.
Mrs. Teasdale: I held him in my arms...And kissed him.
Firefly: Oh, I see, then it was murder! Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.
Mrs. Teasdale: He left me his entire fortune!
Firefly: Is that so? Can't you see what I'm telling you? I love you.
Mrs. Teasdale: Oh, Your Excellency.
Firefly: You're not so bad yourself.
Mrs. Teasdale: Oh...I want to present to you Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania. Having him with us today is indeed a great pleasure.
Trentino: Thank you, but I can't stay very long.
Firefly: That's even a greater pleasure. Now, how about lending this country twenty million dollars, you old skinflint?
Trentino: Twenty million dollars is a lot of money. I shall have to take that up with my Minister of Finance.
Firefly: Well, in the meantime, could you let me have twelve dollars until payday?
Trentino: Twelve dollars?!
Firefly: Don't be scared, you'll get it back. I'll give you my personal note for ninety days. If it isn't payed by then, you can keep the note.
Trentino: Your Excellency...Haven't we seen each other somewhere before?
Firefly: I don't think so, I'm not sure I'm seeing you now. It might be something I ate.
Trentino: Look here sir! Are you trying to...
Firefly: Don't look now, but there's one man too many in this room...And I think it's you.
Mrs. Teasdale: (To Trentino) Oh, I'm so sorry...(To Firefly) I want you to meet a very charming lady.
Firefly: And it's about time! (Starts to walk off)
Mrs. Teasdale: Just a moment! I want to present Miss Vera Marcal.
Firefly: Go ahead, I can take it.
Mrs. Teasdale: Oh-ho-ho, you don't understand! This is Vera Marcal, the famous dancer.
Firefly: Is that so? Can you do this one? (Performs an impromptu dance, Mrs. Teasdale & Miss Marcal laugh in response) I danced before Napoleon...no, Napoleon danced before me. In fact, he danced two- hundred years before me...here's one I picked up in a dance hall. (Dances again, as Mrs. Teasdale laughs) Here's another one I picked up in a dance hall. (Indicates Mrs. Teasdale)
Vera: Perhaps, sometime, we get a chance to dance together, huh?
Firefly: I could dance with you till the cows come home. On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows till you come home...Where's my secretary?
Roland: Here I am! (Roland's entrance startles Firefly, who grabs Mrs. Teasdale.)
Mrs. Teasdale: Good heavens, Your Excellency!
Firefly: Ah, take a letter.
Roland: Who to?
Firefly: To my dentist...ah...Dear Dentist. Enclosed find check for five hundred dollars...Yours very truly...Send that off immediately!
Roland: I'll...um...I'll have to enclose a check first.
Firefly: You do and I'll fire you!
Mrs. Teasdale: Your Excellency...The eyes of the world are upon you. Notables from every country are gathered here in your honor. This is a gala day for you.
Firefly: Well, a gal a day is enough for me...I don't think I could handle any more.
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