Diplomaniacs | Chicago Reader

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Joseph Mankiewicz (All About Eve) wrote the story and screenplay for this 1933 RKO comedy, which his older brother, Paramount producer Herman Mankiewicz, clearly used a few months later as a template for the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup. The long-forgotten team of Bert Wheeler and Bob Woolsey play barbers on an Indian reservation who agree to represent the tribe at the Geneva peace conference. Their shtick is definitely second tier, but Mankiewicz's script has some memorably surreal moments; when scheming arms dealer Louis Calhern needs a vamp to seduce the two diplomats, she's delivered through a slot in a door, wrapped in cellophane like a dozen roses. Racial stereotypes abound, including a blackface gospel number at the peace conference that plays like a dry run for Duck Soup's "All God's Chillun Got Guns." William A. Seiter directed; with Marjorie White and Edgar Kennedy. 61 min.

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