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Marxology - Theatrical Agency

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Theatrical Agency

Mr Lee, Theatrical Agent (Richman)
Doctor Zeppo
Poorman Chico
Lawyer Groucho
Beggarman Harpo
Office Girl Ruth Hall?
Telegraph Boy

Mr. Lee is sitting at his desk working when a knock is heard at the door.

Mr Lee Come in.
Zeppo enters.

Zeppo My name is Sammy Brown and I just came into town. Saw your ad, you're Mr. Lee. Say, you can make a mint on me.

Mr Lee What do you do?

Zeppo Dance, sing.

Mr Lee Play a role?

Zeppo Anything. Say, I'm a find for guys like you, 'cause there's nothing I can't do.

Mr Lee Tell me, where did you work before?

Zeppo In a department store.

Mr Lee Who told you you could dance and sing?

Zeppo Say, for money I'll do anything. Why don't you try me? You might as well.

Mr Lee You might be great.

Zeppo Who can tell?

Mr Lee What do you call your specialty?

Zeppo You mean my big sensation? I knock 'em cold when I pull off my Chevalier imitation... (singing) "If a nightingale could sing like you, they'd sing much better than they do, 'cause you brought a new kind of love to me..."
Well, what do you think?

Mr Lee When you go out don't slam the door. It's a wonderful imitation you gave of Ethel Barrymore.
Knock on door. Chico enters and Zeppo sits down.

Chico I'm glad you see me.

Mr Lee Step right in.

Chico Are you Mr.Lee?

Zeppo My name is Sammy Brown...

Mr Lee Come in. Do you want to talk to me?

Chico I wanta to talka to Mr.Lee.

Mr Lee I'm Mr.Lee

Zeppo That's him.

Chico I see. You wanta a good act?

Mr Lee Yes.

Chico Well, I'm the guy you wanta get. I no speak very good English, but I'm full of the pep and got the ambish.

Mr Lee What do you do?

Chico Acrobats.

Mr Lee What's your name?

Chico Tomalio. But the best thing I do is give imitations of Chevalier. (singing) "When the nightingale, they look like you..."

Mr Lee That's enough!

Zeppo When you go out don't slam the door.

Chico Well, what do you think?

Mr Lee I need a drink.

Chico All right, I take-a the drink.

Mr Lee You'll take the air!

Zeppo The air he cries.

Chico I no like-a the air. It's too cold outside.

Mr Lee Will you please keep quiet.

Chico I no saya the word.

Mr Lee Not an "and", a "but" or an "if". Not a word from you 'til you're spoken to.

Chico All right, you great big stiff.
Mr Lee starts to react, but another knock at the door distracts him. Chico sits down and Groucho enters. He speaks in a heavy Russian accent.

Groucho I vant to speak to Mr.Lee. I'm a dramatic actor.

Mr Lee So I see. I'm Mr.Lee.

Groucho Well, lend an ear to me.

Mr Lee Can you play a role?

Groucho Can I play a role? Do you know who you're looking at?

Mr Lee No.

Groucho Caesar's ghost. I play any kind of a role.

Mr LeeYou will?

Groucho I eat it up like that. I played a part in Ben Hur once.

Mr Lee What part did you play, sir?

Groucho A girl, she played the part of Ben.

Mr Lee And you?

Groucho I played her.
Groucho lifts his eyebrows and smiles coyly.

Chico When you go out, take a slam at the door.

Groucho (resuming accent)You're kidding me aren't you not?

Mr. Lee Kidding you say? I've been here all day. Now show me what you've got.

Groucho (chanting) I vant to play a dramatic part, the kind that toucha a woman's heart, to make her cry for me to die...

Chico Did you ever get hit with a cocoanuts pie?

Groucho (dropping accent) There's my argument. Restrict immigration. I think I'll recite.

Mr. Lee Let it go. All right.

Groucho I'll give you a recitation. Or would you prefer to see me give my Chevalier imitation? (singing) "When a nightingale could sing like you, the sing much sweeter than they do, 'cause you brought a new kind of love to me..."
Well, what do you think?

Mr. Lee Get me a brick!

Groucho Here's a brick. I always carry one for this imitation.

Mr. Lee Say, I ought to lay this on your head!

Groucho You can't do that. You don't belong to the bricklayer's union.
Knock on door. Harpo enters and the brothers are overjoyed to see him.

Chico, Groucho and Zeppo Ahhhhh!

Groucho Poop-poop-a-doo! Poop-poop-a-doopie!
Harpo walks through the crowd with his hand extended, as if to shake hands, but he misses everyone's extended hand except for Mr. Lee's, in whose outstretched hand he deposits his horn-cane. When he reaches Chico, they slap hands hard and do a "first-up" routine, treating each other as a baseball bat they're trying to get top grip on. Mr. Lee, outraged by such flagrant horseplay in his office, pulls Harpo away from Chico. As he does, Harpo takes a hot dog out of his pocket with a flourish and hands it to Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee Hey, what do you think you are...

Groucho Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute. You know who this is?

Mr. Lee No.

Groucho He sells frankfurters. That's the Merchant of Wieners.

Mr. Lee Well, what do you want?
With a flourish, Harpo whips a card out of his pocket and hands it to Mr.Lee, who reads it aloud.
"My name is What-Do-You-Care, my home is anywhere, people say I'm awful dumb, so I thought to you I'd come..." Say, listen...what is this?!

Groucho Now just a moment. Wait a minute. He might be crazy. Wait, I'll find out. You want to go on the stage?
Harpo nods affirmatively.

Mr. Lee Say, listen, you tell me what you want or I'll throw you out...
Harpo rests his leg on Mr. Lee's hand.
Never mind that or I'll give you a...

Chico Now wait, take your time. This fella's a good dancer.
(To Harpo) Dance for him.

Mr. Lee Say, thank heaven there's no Chevalier imitation.
Harpo puts his hat on the desk and instead puts Mr. Lee's straw hat on. He dances and whistles a few bars of You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me, the Chevalier song the others have been singing.

Groucho What do you think of him?

Mr. Lee I wouldn't give him a dollar a week.

Chico Not so loud, he'll take it.

Zeppo Now listen, you're making a big mistake. These fellas are very clever. They're funny fellas, and I've got a play that I've written that I'd like to explain to you.
Harpo, standing between Zeppo and Mr. Lee, continues his leg-in-hand routine, first with Mr. Lee, and then with Zeppo.
I'd like to read this manuscript for you. It's a wonderful play, and these fellas would fit in it.
When Harpo gets tired of having his leg rejected, he climbs up on their shoulders.
Now if you'll sit down with me for a minute, I'll explain the whole thing to you.
They push Harpo off their shoulders and move over to the desk, Mr.Lee sitting behind the desk, and Zeppo in a chair to the side. Chico and Groucho sit on the other side of the desk, pulling the desk over to them, but Mr.Lee pulls it back.

Now this is not "Monkey Business" or is it "Pineapples".
By this time everyone is talking, and Zeppo has to shout to make himself heard.
I want to explain the whole thing to you. Now the first scene takes place in a beautiful home. This is really a magnificent home. A mansion. When I say a mansion, I mean a mansion.

The old-style pedestal phone rings. Harpo grabs a black rubber stamp and hands it to Mr. Lee, who thinks he has the receiver. Then Harpo himself grabs the receiver and listens, clicking the cradle in answer. After futilely listening to the rubber stamp, Mr. Lee retrieves the real receiver from Harpo. Now there's so much noise that no lines of dialogue can be distinguished. Zeppo is still telling about his play, Mr. Lee is talking on the phone and Groucho and Chico are chattering away about something that is unintelligible. Groucho pulls out a desk drawer and throws his cigar butt into it. Harpo also pulls out a drawer and spits his gum into it. From a pocket. Harpo pulls out a rubber glove and blows it up, so that it resembles a cow's udder. Putting his hat under it, he pretends to milk the glove into his hat, picks up the hat and seems to drink the milk. Then he puts the hat back on his head. A telegraph boy enters with a telegram for Mr. Lee, but before he can accept it, Harpo has reached over and torn it up into little pieces, which he drops on the floor. An office girl enters, and Harpo climbs onto the desk and sits on Mr. Lee's head and shakes hands with the girl. Mr. Lee, still on the phone, fails to notice Harpo sitting on his straw hat. As the scene fades out, Harpo is doing his arm-breaking routine on the girl, while the other brothers cluster around her.

Script source: "Monkey Business"-trailer in the film "The House That Shadows Built", Paramount, 1931. I've used the transcription from Charlotte Chandler's book Hello I Must Be Going, except for Chico's character, which she gave as "Amalia". The name "Tomalio" seems more accurate and is found in other sources such as Glenn Mitchell's The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. Anyway, the purpose with Chicos' name in this routine is to make it rhyme with the imitated artist ( see also Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean and Joe Frisco). Similar imitations of Maurice Chevalier appeared in the passport sequence of Monkey Business with the straight man playing a similar role. This actor hasn't been identified. It seems to be neither Ben Taggart nor Otto Fries as has been suggested. Another suggestion is George Lee, a friend of the Marxes since vaudeville. Groucho's "restrict immigration"-remark also popped up in Monkey Business.

You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me

Lyrics and Music by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal and Pierre Norman

If the nightingales could sing like you
They'd sing much sweeter than they do
For you brought a new kind of love to me
And if the sandman brought me dreams of you
I'd want to sleep my whole life through
You brought a new love to me

I know that I'm the slave, you're the queen
Still you can understand that underneath it all
You're a maid and I am only a man

I would work and slave the whole day through
If I could hurry home to you
You brought a new kind of love to me