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Mr. Drake's Duck

Mr. Drake's Duck(1951)

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In 1942, English gentlemen and ex-U.S. Naval officer Donald Drake marries American canteen waitress Penny, after which the couple move to the Green Acre farm in Sussex, England, a delapidated property left to Donald by an uncle. Although they lack the experience to run the farm, Donald and Penny settle into a routine with the help of copious farm handbooks and experienced farmhand Reuben. One day months later, the couple decides to expand the farm and Donald signs a loan with local bank manager Mr. Boothby. In town, Penny's curiosity is piqued by a local farm auction where she mistakenly buys five dozen ducks. The next day, Donald, frustrated by the all the bureaucratic forms required for the farm expansion, insists Penny accompany him on a tour of the farm while he names everything from farmland to pigs by its required form number. When a truck delivering the ducks interrupts the tour, Donald attempts to send the vehicle away, forcing the scatterbrained Penny to explain her mistake. Upset about the money Penny has wasted, Donald refuses to speak to her and Penny, in turn, refuses to speak with him. The next day Donald orders odd-job man Higgins to stop work on the kitchen electricity and plumbing and begin building the new duck pen. Meanwhile, Penny, who is preparing breakfast, attempts to apologize by writing "I'm sorry" on Donald's hard-boiled duck egg, the first from the ducks. Donald, spotting the apology before Penny returns from the kitchen, writes "me too" on the same egg. When Penny discovers the egg on her plate, she and Donald reconcile, crack the egg and discover the yolk is green. Their breakfast is interrupted by a visit from Mr. May of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, who delivers a required quarterly report. May notices the egg yolk and requests to take the egg with him for research. Later at the Animal Poultry Health Research Station, the egg goes through a battery of scientific tests. Back on the farm, Donald asks Higgins to finish the kitchen repairs, although he has not completed the duck pen. Soon after, Boothby arrives to inspect the farm and May delivers another form to Donald. May and Donald are shocked when hundreds of Army personnel invade the property with trucks and tanks. Captain White and an attending sergeant explain that the duck egg yolk contains uranium, an element both the British and American governments spend millions of dollars to produce each year. Until it is discovered which duck has produced the uranium egg, everyone is prohibited from leaving the farm. Although the incoming military personnel have orders to respect the property, the tanks and soldiers ruin the gardens and fields and Penny and Donald quickly lose patience with the intrusion. Because recent security scares have made the uranium egg a top priority, both the Royal Navy and Air Force send reinforcements, further crowding the farm. That night, the ducks are heavily guarded and the next morning all are awakened by the sound of a bugle, the signal to start "Operation Chickweed," the procedure for handling a possible uranium egg. Having divided the ducks into lots of twelve, the guards find one egg emits a strange sound and excitedly rush the egg in a locked box to an inspection station. Once the uranium egg-producing duck is isolated, news of the situation makes headlines throughout the world. With representatives from all the world's nations present, the duck is operated on but dies in surgery without exposing the secret of the uranium egg. When the military finally withdraws, the farm is in shambles. All appears to be returning to normal, when Higgins begs Donald and Penny to inspect his work in the kitchen, and they discover water spurts from the stove instead of the sink. When a departing sergeant picks up a freshly laid egg and taps it, the egg emits the strange sound, prompting the sergeant to conclude that they examined the wrong duck and orders the return of all military personnel. Penny and Donald's adventures with the military then begin again.