The contract routine is one of the few great scenes in the history of film in which two people do nothing but stand and talk. The longer they stand and talk, the more hopeless becomes the idea of standing and talking, and the more hopeless becomes the idea of standing and talking, the longer they stand and talk. The scene consists of a pointless pyramid of perplexities, in which a lot of time and effort are involved in getting nothing accomplished. Five or six comic personalities have converged upon the confusion and rendered it fathomless, and countless rounds of experiments and experience have calculated laughs like compound interest. The scene proceeds merrily along a carefully established thread, and every time it departs from the thread it gets merrier and merrier.The following clip omits the first section of the scene -- which, although it's really a preamble, is necessary in establishing the routine's momentum. Courtesy of Why a Duck?, here is the missing introductory dialogue (screenplay by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, and Al Boasberg):
GROUCHO: Say, I just remembered, I came back here looking for somebody. You don't know who it is, do you?
CHICO: It's a funny thing. It's-a just slip my mind.
GROUCHO: Oh, I know, I know -- the greatest tenor in the world. That's what I'm after.
CHICO: Why, I'm his manager!
GROUCHO: Whose manager?
CHICO: The greatest tenor in the world!
GROUCHO: The fella that sings at the opera here?
GROUCHO: What's his name?
CHICO: What-a you care? I can't pronounce it. What-a you want with him?
GROUCHO: I wanted to sign him up for the New York Opera Company. Don't you know America is waiting to hear him sing?
CHICO: Well, he can sing loud, but he can't sing that loud.
GROUCHO: Well, I think I can get America to meet him half way. Could he sail tomorrow?
CHICO: You pay him enough money, he could sail yesterday. How much you pay him?
GROUCHO: Well, I don't know. Let's see...a thousand dollars a night...I'm entitled to a small profit. How about ten dollars a night?
CHICO: Ten dollar? Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I'll take it.