Duck Soup II

(Having led Freedonia to victory over Sylvania in a bitter, on-again off-again war, President RUFUS T. FIREFLY must now turn his attention to the difficult task of running a small, bankrupt, mostly undeveloped country. To complicate matters, the Minister of War, Chicolini, has disappeared, as has the recently appointed Foreign Minister, Pinky. Both were last seen loitering about the residence of a local lemonade vendor and his wife. This, plus the largest deficit in the country's history, is what confronts President Firefly as he dictates a letter to his secretary, BOB ROLAND, in the oversized art deco Cabinet room.)

FIREFLY: To the Ministry of Finance, comma, hello boys, colon, please remit in the amount of two hundred and fifty dollars, comma, cash, exclamation point, yours truly, comma, and sign your name. Did you get all that?

ROLAND: Yes sir, but I can't sign my name, it's not from me.

FIREFLY: Of course it is. You wrote it.

(A MESSENGER enters.)

MESSENGER: A message for President Firefly.

FIREFLY: Come, come -- I haven't got all day -- we're executing prisoners in ten minutes. What is it?

MESSENGER: Mrs. Teasdale has arrived.

FIREFLY: She has? Better run down to the bus depot and pick her up -- she'll be the one without tires.

(Enter MRS. GLORIA TEASDALE, the stately, blue-blooded matron who single-handedly financed the war with Sylvania.)

MRS. TEASDALE: Your Highness, I have good news.

FIREFLY: You'll lend me that five dollars? Thanks, toots.

MRS. TEASDALE: No, no. I've arranged for peace talks between Freedonia and Sylvania. Finally, a permanent peace will be ours, and we can return to a normal diplomatic relationship.

FIREFLY: You want to return to a normal diplomatic relationship? I thought I meant more to you, Gloria -- can I call you Gloria? -- besides, peace would be a disaster for this country. The economy was booming during the war. I personally made a fortune in shovels.

MRS. TEASDALE: But, negotiations have already been scheduled. By Warren Christopher.

FIREFLY: Oh, so you've been sneaking around behind my back, eh? Why can't you sneak around in front of my back? And tell me, what has this Warren Christopher got that I haven't got -- besides a face that can sink a thousand ships?

MRS. TEASDALE: But you simply must agree to meet with Ambassador Trentino.

FIREFLY: Trentino? I thought we hung him. So, he wants peace? Well, it's gonna cost him, the snake. Speaking of snakes, where are those two numskulls I named to my cabinet?

ROLAND: They're still looking for them, sir.

FIREFLY: Tell them to stop looking. Just make sure they don't come back.

MRS. TEASDALE: So, what should I tell Mr. Christopher?

FIREFLY: Tell him not to go too heavy on the aftershave, my Gloria's very sensitive -- oh, Gloria...

(Firefly sidles up to Mrs. Teasdale and rubs against her like a house cat.)

FIREFLY: ... can I call you Mrs. Teasdale?

MRS. TEASDALE: Oh, Your Excellency.

FIREFLY: Wait, I'm just getting started. Oh, Gloria, can't you see that I'm enameled of you?

MRS. TEASDALE: Enameled?

FIREFLY: Wait, that's not right. Can't you see that I'm unmannered of you? That's not right, either.

MRS. TEASDALE: Don't you mean enamored?

FIREFLY: No, actually, I meant enameled.

(We hear a fanfare.)

FIREFLY: Now what?

(A MESSENGER enters.)

MESSENGER: His Honor, Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania.

(Ambassador TRENTINO enters.)

TRENTINO: Mrs. Teasdale... Your Highness.

(He bows curtly to Firefly.)

FIREFLY: Your Lowness.

(Firefly turns his back to Trentino and drops his pants.)

TRENTINO: What?! Why, the nerve of this man!

FIREFLY: It's hardly the nerve. Don't you know anything about the human anatomy? Of course not, how could you? Here, have an apple.

(He takes an apple out of his pocket, offers it to Trentino, who declines, and then takes two more out.)


TRENTINO: Mrs. Teasdale, this man is impossible. Here he is, the leader of a country, insulting and humiliating the humble emissary from his vanquished foe. It is an outrage!

FIREFLY: Do you juggle?

(Firefly begins juggling, or trying to juggle, the three apples.)

TRENTINO: Why, in the history of modern warfare, no one has shown less compassion than this man. Even Saddam Hussein treated his Kuwaiti prisoners better. I've a mind to go to The Hague and bring this up at the International Court!

FIREFLY: That's not all you'll bring up.

(A large piece of glass shatters off-camera.)

MRS. TEASDALE: My goodness, what was that? It sounded like a mirror breaking.

FIREFLY: Again? That's seven years bad luck, added to the other seven -- I wonder, can they run concurrently?

TRENTINO: We're wasting time. Sylvania's military forces stand at the ready, poised to do battle once again, unless this man agrees to sit down at the table and negotiate a permanent peace.

FIREFLY: Sit down at the table? You want me to sit down at the table? Why can't I sit down on a chair like everyone else? What a fool I'd be, sitting on the table while everyone else is in a chair. I'd be ridiculed! I'd be a laughingstock! I'd be singled out!

(A MESSENGER appears.)

MESSENGER: His Honor, the Minister of War.

(CHICOLINI enters, on the arms, literally, of two statuesque BLONDES.)

CHICOLINI: Sorry I'm late, boss. I was busy.

FIREFLY: I can see that. I should be so busy. Well, do you two ladies realize you've broken every law in the books?


FIREFLY: Yes. Be in my office in ten minutes and I'll show you the books. And you, Chicolini, you're fired.

CHICOLINI: Fired? I accept. When do I begin?

FIREFLY: Tomorrow. And bring your own lunch.

(A fanfare is heard, and a MESSENGER enters.)

MESSENGER: His Honor, the Foreign Minister.

(PINKY enters, playing his own fanfare on a crooked trumpet, then notices the blondes and begins chasing them about the room.)

FIREFLY: And to think -- I was advised that he was unqualified for the job. Just look at him. The last Foreign Minister would have dropped dead from exhaustion by now.

MRS. TEASDALE: Your Excellency, Ambassador Trentino grows weary.

FIREFLY: He does? What a coincidence -- so do I. My weary appears in late spring and we simply love it in salads and nosegays. Tell me, Ambassador, do you water every day or every other Thursday?

TRENTINO: Mrs. Teasdale, I've had about enough of this. I've decided to tell my commanders to ready our troops for war.


FIREFLY: Tell your commanders to buy you a new deodorant while you're at it.

TRENTINO: This man defies all the laws of human decency!

FIREFLY: Just what I was going to say. It's good that we agree on something. Say -- don't you have a prison train to catch?


(Pinky and Chicolini grab Trentino and hustle him out of the room.)

FIREFLY: You better hurry. The trains are always on time.

MRS. TEASDALE: Oh, I am disappointed. Here I had gone to the trouble of arranging treaty talks that would have assured a safe and secure future for all Freedonians, and you have to go spoil it with your rude and untoward behavior. I am truly disappointed.

FIREFLY: Well, if it'll make you feel any better, we'll hang Trentino with a brand new rope.

MRS. TEASDALE: And what should I say to Warren Christopher?

FIREFLY: Tell him to get his hand off your knee. Don't you understand, Gloria -- I love you. Tell me that you love me and I'll leave forever -- and that's a promise.

MRS. TEASDALE: If you really wanted to do something for me, you'd apologize to Ambassador Trentino, and attend the peace talks.

FIREFLY: Oh, all right, but only because it's you. Where's my Secretary?

ROLAND: I'm right here.

FIREFLY: Where were you five minutes ago?

ROLAND: I was right there.

FIREFLY: Well, don't do it again. Send this telegram to Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania: Greetings, stop, just a note to say I was kidding, old chum, stop, tell your soldiers to take a load off and let's all sit down at the ol' peace table and smoke the ol' peace pipe, stop, your pal, with sincerest affection, Rufus. And get that off at once.

ROLAND: Uh, yes, sir, but I'll need some money.

FIREFLY: Then forget it.

(Firefly grabs the telegram and rips it up.)

MRS. TEASDALE: Oh, your majesty, this is a sad day for all of Freedonia.

FIREFLY: Just the poor, my dear -- you'll do all right. Don't you understand -- I'm proposing marriage to you.

MRS. TEASDALE: You are? Why, I --

FIREFLY: After you sign a few hundred pages of legal documents.


(Firefly embraces most of Mrs. Teasdale)

FIREFLY: Just think of it: we'll have the most lavish wedding in history.

MRS. TEASDALE: But, we can't get married -- not in the middle of this terrible crisis. How will it look to the poor, to the hungry, to stage such a lavish wedding?

FIREFLY: Let them eat rice. Hey, that has a nice ring to it.

(A MESSENGER enters.)

MESSENGER: His Honor, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Warren Christopher.

(Enter WARREN CHRISTOPHER, who holds out his hand, but Firefly ignores it.)

CHRISTOPHER: Your Majesty, it's a pleasure to meet you.

FIREFLY: You're right, it's a pleasure to meet me.

(Firefly proceeds to leer at the two blondes throughout Christopher's speech.)

CHRISTOPHER: I'm sorry for the sarcasm, but it certainly won't stop me from carrying out my mission, which is to establish a permanent peace in this region. I come backed by the total apparatus of the United States government, diplomatic and military, which I believe is the only way to effectively guarantee the success of the peace process. And we hold out the prospect of a real peace, with security and trust between Freedonia and Sylvania. I've already discussed this with your Sylvanian counterpart and he agrees, it is time for peace. Please, join with us in this effort.

FIREFLY: I'm sorry, what did you say? I had a couple of important matters on my mind. Four to be precise. Okay, girls, scram.

(The two blondes exit.)

CHRISTOPHER: It's just this: history has to be set aside for the good of the people, and not just the current generation, but the generations to come. Remember, things don't happen overnight --

FIREFLY: That's the way it was with her.

(He refers to a blushing Mrs. Teasdale.)

CHRISTOPHER: Please reconsider, President Firefly. The future of not only your country, or the region, but the entire world, may depend on what you choose to do.

FIREFLY: Are you trying to make me feel guilty? Because if you are, forget it. I laugh at guilt! I spit in its face! And then I laugh again!

CHRISTOPHER: I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. What's happened has happened. Bad things were done by both sides. War is ugly, no one is disputing that. And no one is expecting centuries-old prejudices to disappear right away, either.

FIREFLY: You mean I can continue to insult Trentino?

CHRISTOPHER: You might want to tell him you're only kidding, occasionally.

FIREFLY: Well, what kind of a dictator would I be if I went around being nice to people?

CHRISTOPHER: A benevolent dictator.

FIREFLY: Aw, shucks, you're making me cry. If this were a movie, Thalberg would have fired the director.

CHRISTOPHER: It's not a movie, and Thalberg's dead. What do you say? Sit down and talk peace with Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania.

MRS. TEASDALE: Oh please, Rufus.

FIREFLY: Rufus, she called me Rufus. She's never called me Rufus. (To Mrs. Teasdale) See that it never happens again.

CHRISTOPHER: It's now or never, President Firefly. The fate of the world rests in your hands.

FIREFLY: Well...

(Firefly steps forward, away from the others, and addresses the camera.)

FIREFLY: They say a man must stick to his principles, unless of course the interest rate drops, in which case he should get into commodities, or real estate. Faced with worldwide catastrophe on the one hand, and a fling with those two blondes on the other -- wait, that's not fair -- make it one blonde. What do I do? The people of my country love me -- at least the ones who aren't in jail. Do I turn my back on them and their hatred of everything Sylvanian? Or do I listen to the common wisdom and good sense of the people of Freedonia and order an all-out sneak attack on those loathsome vermin? The fate of the world rests on my shoulders, and in my hands -- and I think I stepped in some, too.

(He turns and rejoins Mrs. Teasdale and Warren Christopher.)

FIREFLY: I've made up my mind.

CHRISTOPHER: I'm glad to hear that.

FIREFLY: I've decided to turn my back on the people of Freedonia and negotiate a peace treaty with those slimy Sylvanians.

CHRISTOPHER: That's wonderful. But, do you think that, in the announcement, you could avoid using the word "slimy?"

FIREFLY: Where's my secretary?

ROLAND: I'm right here.

FIREFLY: Where were you a minute ago?

ROLAND: I was right here.

FIREFLY: Good work. Tell the government printing office to drop the word slimy from all references to Sylvania -- that's all newspapers, magazines, and official proclamations. We shall refer to them from now on as, simply, Sylvanians.

ROLAND: Yes sir. Right away.

CHRISTOPHER: Very good. I think you're getting into the spirit of the thing. You may become to Freedonia what Mikhail Gorbachev was to Russia -- a pivotal transition figure to lead your country into the 21st Century.

MRS. TEASDALE: Did you hear that, Rufus?

(Women's shrieks and a honking horn can be heard approaching.)

FIREFLY: No, but I heard that.

(The two blondes enter running -- from both Foreign Minister Pinky and Minister of War Chicolini.)

FIREFLY: You'll have to excuse me, folks, but this is a matter of national security.

(Firefly joins the chase and they all exit, save for an embarrassed Mrs. Teasdale and a placid Warren Christopher, whose expression has never changed, as we FADE OUT .)

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