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Selected Bits from Horse Feathers

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Harpo, Groucho, and Chico decide on a little libation before getting down to business.

Note: links in the following text point to recordings of these lines in Windows WAV format.

[Swordfish] | [Office] | [Classroom] | [ Back to "Horse Feathers" ]

The setup: Frank Wagstaff (Zeppo) has told his father Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Groucho) that he can find a couple of football players for Huxley College's team at a local speakeasy. As Baravelli the Ice Man, Chico meets Wagstaff at the door...

The "Swordfish" Scene

Bouncer: Hey, Baravelli!

Baravelli: Whadaya want?

Bouncer: Watch the door for a few minutes. And don't let anyone in without the password.

Baravelli: Alright, what is it?

Bouncer: "Swordfish" is the password, d'ya understand?

Baravelli: Okay, I got it.

Bouncer: Well, what is it?

Baravelli: Password.

Bouncer: Swordfish! Swordfish!

Baravelli: Alrighta! Swordfisha! Swordfish!

Bouncer: Aahh...

Baravelli: (roughly interpreted) Piazza mosco santa rumbolla fatcha duzzi patsi!

There's a knock at the door. Baravelli opens the peephole.

Baravelli: Who are you?

Wagstaff: I'm fine, thanks. Who are you?

Baravelli: I'm fine too, but you can't come in unless you give the password.

Wagstaff: Well, what is the password?

Baravelli: Oh no, you gotta tell me! (pause) Hey, I tell you what I do...I give you three guesses...It's the name of a fish...

Wagstaff: Is it Mary?

Baravelli: Ha, ha! Atsa no fish!

Wagstaff: She isn't? Well, she drinks like one. Let me see...Is it sturgeon?

Baravelli: Hey, you're crazy! A sturgeon, he's a doctor cuts you open whena you sick. Now I give you one more chance.

Wagstaff: I got it! Haddock!

Baravelli: Atsa funny, I gotta haddock too.

Wagstaff: What do you take for a haddock?

Baravelli: Well now, sometimes I take aspirin, sometimes I takea calomel.

Wagstaff: Say, I'd walk a mile for a calomel.

Baravelli: You mean chocolate calomel. I like that too, but you no guess it. (Slams door. Wagstaff knocks again. Baravelli opens the peephole again.) Hey, whatsa matta? You no understand English? You can't come in here unless you say swordfish! Now, I give you one more guess.

Wagstaff: (thinking) Swordfish...swordfish...I think I got it! Is it swordfish?

Baravelli: Ha! That's it! You guess it!

After the two settle themselves at the bar, the following conversation ensues.

Wagstaff: Well let's get down to business. I'm looking for two football players who always hang around here.

Baravelli: We always hang around here, but we don't...

Wagstaff: (interrupting) Well, that's all I wanted to know. I'm Professor Wagstaff of Huxley College.

Baravelli: That means nothing to me.

Wagstaff: Well, it doesn't mean anything to me either. I'll try it over again. I'm Professor Huxley of Wagstaff College.

Baravelli: Well you didn't stay at the other college very long.

Wagstaff: You're heading for a breakdown. Why don't you pull yourself to pieces?

Baravelli: I'll talk it over with my partner.

Wagstaff: In case I never see you again, which would add ten years to my life, what would you fellows want to play football?

Baravelli: Wella first we wanna football.

Wagstaff: Well, I don't know if we've got a football. But if I could find one, would you be interested? I don't want a hasty answer, just sleep on it.

Baravelli: I no think I can sleep on a football.

Bartender: Who's gonna settle for these drinks?

Baravelli: (Flips coin and hides the result. To Wagstaff, he says,) Your stuck.

Wagstaff: (To bartender.) Can you cash a check for fifteen dollars and twenty-two cents?

Bartender: Sure. (Opens drawer and counts out money.) Five, ten, fifteen, and twenty-two.

Wagstaff: Thanks. As soon as I get a check for fifteen dollars and twenty-two cents, I'll send it to you. (Flees with Baravelli.) Swordfish!

[Top] | [Swordfish] | [Office] | [Classroom] | [Back to "Horse Feathers"]

Wagstaff's Office

We now take you to Wagstaff's office at Huxley College. Wagstaff is holding a conference with two professors.

Wagstaff: (Cracking walnuts with the telephone.) And I say to you gentlemen, this college is a failure. The trouble is, we're neglecting football for education.

Both professors: Exactly. The professor is right.

Wagstaff: Oh, I'm right am I? Well, I'm not right. I'm wrong. I just said that to test you. Now I know where I'm at. I'm dealing with a couple of snakes. What I meant to say was that there's too much football and not enough education.

Both professors: That's what I think.

Wagstaff: Oh, you do, do you? Well you're wrong again! If there was a snake here, I'd apologize. Where would this college be without football? Have we got a stadium?

Professor One: Yes.

Wagstaff: Have we got a college?

Professor One: Yes.

Wagstaff: Well, we can't support both. Tomorrow we start tearing down the college.

Both professors: But professor! Where will the students sleep?

Wagstaff: Where they always sleep. In the classroom.

Secretary: (Enters from other room.) Oh professor. The Dean of Science wants to know how soon you can see him. He says he's tired of cooling his heels out here.

Wagstaff: Tell him I'm cooling a couple of heals in here. (Secretary leaves. To professors,) Where were we? Oh yes. How much am I paying you fellows?

Professor Two: Five thousand a year. But we've never been payed.

Wagstaff: Well, in that case, I'll raise you to eight thousand. And a bonus. Bring your dog around and I'll give him a bonus too.

Secretary: (Entering again.) The Dean is furious! He's waxing wroth!

Wagstaff: Is Wroth out there too? Tell Wroth to wax the Dean for a while. (Aside to professor.) Guess that's bad, eh?

Professor One: One more thing professor. It's about your son. I'm afraid he's paying too little attention to his studies and too much to Connie Bailey, the college widow.

Wagstaff: He is, eh? Well I'll soon put a stop to that. I'll call her up right now. Have either of you weasels got her phone number?

Both professors: (Disgusted.) No!

Wagstaff: Well, it's a good thing I've got it. (Looks up number and picks up phone. Into telephone,) Give me Main 4-9970 and reverse the charges. (To professors) You may go now. (Looking at Professor one and gesturing toward Professor two) Drop this in the mailbox on your way out. (Phone buzzes) Hello? I want to speak to Miss Bailey...This is Miss Bailey?

Miss Bailey: (From her bedroom, into phone,) Mm-hmm...Why of course I know your son...Why that's silly! We're just very good friends...But professor I don't understand.

Wagstaff: (Back to the office,) You don't, eh? Well I want to see you. Come right over to my office...You can't, you're in bed? Well, in that case, I'll come over to your office. (Hangs up phone. Baravelli and Pinky arrive carrying blocks of ice. They deposit them in the wall safe.) That's a fine way to carry ice! Where are your tongs? (Baravelli and Pinky stick their tongues out.) Looks like a tong war.

Baravelli: Well, that's the last time we deliver ice unless you pay the bill.

Wagstaff: How much do we owe you?

Baravelli: Two thousand dollars.

Wagstaff: Two thousand dollars for ice? I can get an Eskimo for two hundred dollars and make my own ice.

Baravelli: I'll tell you what I do. I make you a proposition. You owe us two hundred dollars. We take two thousand and call it square.

Wagstaff: That's not a bad idea. I tell you, I'll consult my lawyer. And if he advises me to do it, I'll get a new lawyer. Why don't you forget about the money? Go to college, meet all the beautiful girls, get yourself a co-ed.

Baravelli: Hah! I gotta co-ed! Last week, for eighteen dollars, I gotta co-ed with two paira pants.

Wagstaff: Since when has a co-ed got two pair of pants?

Baravelli: Since I joined the college.

Wagstaff: Baravelli, you've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I'll bet he was glad to get rid of it.

[Top] | [Swordfish] | [Office] | [Classroom] | [Back to "Horse Feathers"]

In The Classroom

We pick up the story in a lecture hall at Huxley College. Wagstaff has just signed Baravelli and Pinky (Harpo) to play football for Huxley, and he brings them into the hall.

Professor: And thus we see that the function of the respiratory system is to transmit oxygen into the bloodstream. This process, which is called "osmosis..."

Wagstaff: (Interrupts.) Have they started sawing a woman in half yet?

Professor: Oh, Mr. President, this is indeed a pleasure. What brings you here?

Wagstaff: A bicycle, but I left it out in the hall. Have you got two empty dunce chairs? I brought you two empty dunces. Come in, dunces. (Baravelli and Pinky enter.) Here they are...ten cents a dunce. (Baravelli gives the professor an apple, and Pinky gives him a watermelon.) Well, all you need now is a bowl of cherries.

Professor: (To Baravelli and Pinky) Uh, find yourselves a couple of seats. (The two molest a couple of co-eds before sitting down). Now, let us go on with our lecture.

Wagstaff: I wish you'd go on without your lecture. (Looks into microscope.)

Professor: What do you think of that slide?

Wagstaff: Well, I think he was safe at second, but it was very close.

Professor: (To class.) Now let us examine the circulatory system. Here is the liver...

Wagstaff: What, no bacon? I'd send that back if I were you.

Professor: The liver, if neglected, invariably leads to cirrhosis. Of course, you are all familiar with the symptoms of cirrhosis.

Baravelli: (Standing.) Sure! Cirrhosis are red, so violets are blue, so sugar is sweet, so so are you.

Wagstaff: (Still looking in microscope) I can't see him, but I'll bet I know who it is.

Professor: For the protection of the heart, or cardia, mother nature has provided a sac, called the pericardium. Any questions?

Baravelli: Yes. When you gonna cut the watermelon open?

Professor: Psychopathically, the duodenum is in inverse ratio to the coordination of the pancreas.

Wagstaff: (Following professor around the room.) Is this stuff on the level, or are you just making it up as you go along? My feet are getting tired from this walk.

Professor: Why, everything I've told you can be found in the simplest textbook on anatomy. I'm sure my students will bear me out.

Baravelli: We bear you out! (He and Pinky run up and give the professor the bum's rush.)

Wagstaff: And let that be a lesson to every one of you! This school was here before you came, and it'll be here before you go. (Knocking a human skull off the desk.) And you too, you numbskull! (Baravelli and Pinky race back in, this time molesting the same girl before taking their seats. Wagstaff pulls down a screen showing an anatomical view of a man). Let us follow a corpuscle on its journey. (Puts on his cap, grabs his briefcase, and starts to leave. Stops suddenly.) Oh, my mistake, I thought I was a corpuscle. As you know, there is constant warfare between the red and white corpuscles. Now then, baboons, what is a corpuscle?

Baravelli: That's easy! First isa captain, then isa lieutenant, then isa corpuscle.

Wagstaff: That's fine. Why don't you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out? (Gesturing to screen.) We now find ourselves among the Alps. The Alps are a very simple people, living on a diet of rice and old shoes. Beyond the Alps lies more Alps. And The Lord Alps those that Alps themselves. We then come to the bloodstream. The blood rushes from the head, down to the feet...gets a look at those feet, and rushes back to the head again. This is known as auction pinochle. (Dashes to take a bite of apple. While his back is turned, Pinky pulls down a screen in front of the anatomical view. This screen shows a horse.) Now in studying your basic metabolism, we first listen to your heart speed. And if your hearts beat anything but diamonds and clubs, it's because your partner is cheating...or your wife. Now, ah, now take this point for instance. (Points to horse's rear end.) That reminds me. I haven't seen my son all day. Well, the human body takes many strange forms. (Goes back to the first screen and points to it.) Now, here is a most unusual organ. The organ will play a solo immediately after the feature picture. (Goes back to the apple and Pinky hangs a scantily-clad pinup over the screen.) Scientists make these deductions by examining a rat, or you landlord who won't cut the rent, and what do they find? Asparagus. (Goes back to screen, pointing to pinup.) Now, on closer examination...Hmm, this needs closer examination. In fact, it needs a nightgown. Baravelli! Who's responsible for this? Is this your picture?

Baravelli: I no think so. Doesn't look like me.

Wagstaff: Well, take it out of here immediately and hang it up in my bedroom. Now then, out with it, who did it? (Pinky stands slowly, looking contrite.) Oh, so your the culprit! Young man, as you grow older, you'll find you can't burn the candle at both ends. (Pinky pulls a candle out of his coat pocket. The candle happens to be burning at both ends.) Well, I was wrong. I knew there was something you couldn't burn at both ends. I thought it was a candle. However, you must be punished. (Gestures to a girl in the first row.) Just for that, you stay after school.

Co-ed: But professor, I didn't do anything!

Wagstaff: I know, but there's no fun keeping him after school!

We leave the scene here, as the lecture turns into a brawl. It's very funny, but mostly visual, and I think you've probably had enough stage directions for now.

[Top] | [Swordfish] | [Office] | [Classroom] | [Back to "Horse Feathers"]

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This site uses material originally created by Frank Bland for his website Why A Duck?. Frank did kindly give me permission to use this material.

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