A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
CONTRACT SCENE

Driftwood: Well, things seem to be getting better around the country.
Fiorello: I don't know. I'm a stranger here myself.
Driftwood: Say, I just remembered - I came back here looking for somebody. You don't know who it is, do ya?
Fiorello: It's a funny thing - it just slipped my mind.
Driftwood: Oh- I know, I know... the greatest tenor in the world. That's what I'm after.
Fiorello: Why, I'm his manager!
Driftwood: Whose manager?
Fiorello: The greatest tenor in the world.
Driftwood: The fella that sings at the opera here?
Fiorello: Sure...
Driftwood: What's his name?
Fiorello: What do you care? Besides I can't pronounce it. What do you want with him?
Driftwood: Well, I uh, I want to sign him up for the New York Opera Company. Do you know America is waiting to hear him sing?
Fiorello: Well, he can sing loud, but he can't sing that loud.
Driftwood: Well, I think I can get America to meet him half-way. Could he sail tomorrow?
Fiorello: You pay him enough money, he could sail yesterday. How much you pay him?
Driftwood: Well, I don't know... (muttering aside to himself) let's see, a thousand dollars a night... I'm entitled to a small profit... (to Fiorello) How about ten dollars a night?
Fiorello: Ten? Ten dolla- ha ha ha ha ha! I'll take it...
Driftwood: All right, but remember, I get 10% for negotiating the deal.
Fiorello: Yes, and I get 10% for being the manager. How much does that leave him?
Driftwood: That leaves him - uh, $8.00.
Fiorello: Eight dollars, huh? Well, he sends a five dollars home to his mother...
Driftwood: Well, that leaves him $3.00.
Fiorello: Can he live in New York on $3.00?
Driftwood: Like a prince. Of course he won't be able to eat, but he can live like a prince. However, out of that $3.00, you know, he'll have to pay an income tax...
Fiorello: Ah, there's income tax...
Driftwood: Yes, there's a federal tax, and a state tax, and a city tax, and a street tax, and a sewer tax.
Fiorello: How much does this come to?
Driftwood: Well, I figure if he doesn't sing too often, he can break even.
Fiorello: All right, we take it.
Driftwood: All right, fine. Now here are the contracts. You just put his name at the top and you sign at the bottom. There's no need of you reading that because these are duplicates.
Fiorello: Yeah, they's a duplicates.
Driftwood: I say they're duplicates.
Fiorello: Why sure they's a duplicates...
Driftwood: Don't you know what duplicates are?
Fiorello: Sure. There's five kids up in Canada.
Driftwood: Well, I wouldn't know about that. I haven't been to Canada in years. Well go ahead and read it.
Fiorello: What does it say?
Driftwood: Well, go on and read it!
Fiorello: You read it.
Driftwood: All right, I'll read it to ya. Can you hear?
Fiorello: I haven't heard anything yet. Did you say anything?
Driftwood: Well, I haven't said anything worth hearing.
Fiorello: Well, that's why I didn't hear anything.
Driftwood: Well, that's why I didn't say anything.
Fiorello: Can you read?
Driftwood (struggling to read the fine print): I can read but I can't see it. I don't seem to have it in focus here. If my arms were a little longer, I could read it. You haven't got a baboon in your pocket, have ya? Here, here, here we are. Now I've got it. Now pay particular attention to this first clause because it's most important. It says the, uh, "The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part." How do you like that? That's pretty neat, eh?
Fiorello: No, it's no good.
Driftwood: What's the matter with it?
Fiorello: I don't know. Let's hear it again.
Driftwood: It says the, uh, "The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part."
Fiorello: (pausing) That sounds a little better this time.
Driftwood: Well, it grows on ya. Would you like to hear it once more?
Fiorello: Uh, just the first part.
Driftwood: What do you mean? The party of the first part?
Fiorello: No, the first part of the party of the first part.
Driftwood: All right. It says the, uh, "The first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract" - look, why should we quarrel about a thing like this? We'll take it right out, eh?
Fiorello: Yeah, it's a too long, anyhow. (They both tear off the tops of their contracts.) Now, what do we got left?
Driftwood: Well, I got about a foot and a half. Now, it says, uh, "The party of the second part shall be known in this contract as the party of the second part."
Fiorello: Well, I don't know about that...
Driftwood: Now what's the matter?
Fiorello: I no like-a the second party, either.
Driftwood: Well, you should've come to the first party. We didn't get home 'til around four in the morning... I was blind for three days!
Fiorello: Hey, look, why can'ta the first part of the second party be the second part of the first party? Then a you gotta something.
Driftwood: Well, look, uh, rather than go through all that again, what do you say?
Fiorello: Fine. (They rip out a portion of the contract.)
Driftwood: Now, uh, now I've got something you're bound to like. You'll be crazy about it.
Fiorello: No, I don't like it.
Driftwood: You don't like what?
Fiorello: Whatever it is. I don't like it.
Driftwood: Well, don't let's break up an old friendship over a thing like that. Ready?...
Fiorello: OK! (Another part is torn off.) Now the next part, I don't think you're gonna like.
Driftwood: Well, your word's good enough for me. (They rip out another part.) Now then, is my word good enough for you?
Fiorello: I should say not.
Driftwood: Well, that takes out two more clauses. (They rip out two more parts.) Now, "The party of the eighth part..."
Fiorello: No, that'sa no good. (more ripping.) No.
Driftwood: "The party of the ninth part..."
Fiorello: No, that'sa no good, too. (they rip the contracts again until there's practically nothing left.) Hey, how is it my contract is skinnier than yours?
Driftwood: Well, I don't know. You must've been out on a tear last night. But anyhow we're all set now, aren't we?
Fiorello: Oh sure.
Driftwood (offering his pen to sign the contract): Now just, uh, just you put your name right down there and then the deal is, uh, legal.
Fiorello: I forgot to tell you. I can't write.
Driftwood: Well, that's all right, there's no ink in the pen anyhow. But listen, it's a contract, isn't it?
Fiorello: Oh sure.
Driftwood: We got a contract...
Fiorello: You bet.
Driftwood: No matter how small it is...
Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here? This thing here.
Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that's the usual clause. That's in every contract. That just says uh, it says uh, "If any of the parties participating in this contract is shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified."
Fiorello: Well, I don't know...
Driftwood: It's all right, that's, that's in every contract. That's, that's what they call a 'sanity clause'.
Fiorello: Ha ha ha ha ha! You can't fool me! There ain't no Sanity Clause!
Driftwood: Well, you win the white carnation.
Fiorello: I give this to Riccardo.


For a sound clip of this scene, be sure to check out the sound clips featuring Groucho or Chico from the Sights and Sounds page.

Marx Brothers Night at the Opera Treasury
Marx Brothers Night at the Opera Treasury