Sunday, January 30, 2011

STILL a Columbia Pictures Presentation!

Why, I just realized! The Tommy Lee Jones / Will Smith juggernaut is a Columbia Pictures property, as is this and all Three Stooges shorts... okay, better get this over with. I thought I was going to be able to get my act together and do one of these a week! Harder than it looks. Welp, like Two Face in Batman Forever, I'm of two minds about everything now; if only I could get a kick-ass coin to flip. Something high quality and not widely available, maybe a gold doubloon or two. On the one hand, it's a fine Stooge short. A classic. An icon. The third Three Stooges short ever made. On the other hand, there's a desperation in the delivery of the jokes. The Marx Brothers had a natural ease about them. The Stooges don't exactly have that, but they try. But why don't we go through it, plot point by plot point.
Let this be a lesson to any hospital incompetent enough to hire med students that have stuck around college too long. Animal House ring a bell? The Three Stooges are hired on one condition: they not fu... screw up too badly. Getting off on the wrong foot right from the start, the boys break the glass of the boss's door (you better believe he's got a good comedy name: Dr. Graves, Superintendent), setting up an hilarious running gag of door glass replacement; the man in charge of that task seems to go through the five phases of grief in his own way. Another running gag: the boys head off to the "Store Room" three times to get special transport for making their rounds; like all class acts, they travel in style, even if they are buffoons. At 2:09 in the proceedings, they've already recycled that bit of Curly sound from Punch Drunks! It's just that good, iconic, what have you. They then proceed to recycle the old giving a speeding ticket to a person in a wheelchair gag. Actually, did the Marx Brothers rip that one off to use in A Night at the Opera?... nah, that can't be it. Larry is especially rough to Curly at 3:35! The next gag: Larry says "I'll do it when I'm ready!" Moe replies "Are you ready?" You'll be hearing a lot more of that one in the coming weeks, don't worry. At 3:56, enter Kristen Schaal... I'm sorry, it's actually... you know what? Here's the full cast and crew list, you try to figure it out. But she does pose an interesting dilemma: why DON'T the patients get an apple a day while they're in the hospital? I've been watching Fox News a lot lately so I can answer that forcefully and succinctly: NANNY STATE! Nanny state, Nanny state, nanny nanny nanny state! Ignorance is bliss, Fear is courage, Weakness is Strength, Down with Big Brother... got that wrong again. Anyway, after the boys finally claw their way out of this foul temptress' evil web, they STILL haven't made it to their rooms yet! )66, 72 and 83(. They report back to the boss' office, deliver a few good jokes, break another plate-glass door, and it's back to the store room. Note at about 5:50 or so: you can see the shadow of a boom microphone on the wall! Curly almost hits his head on the ceiling as he's on a horse. The boys then run afoul of a telegram man, but they manage to outsmart him. Not the kind of thing the Marx Brothers might do, so they'll have to really use the Jerk Mandate on the guy: he acted like a jerk, asking for his 75 cents, so he gets what's coming to him. Me myself, I just love a good sound effect, and Curly gives a classic at about 6:57. I gotta put that one on my MP3 player. Where's my assistant?
Ah, yes. This is why I'm glad I'm doing this blow by blow. They learned a valuable lesson from this sequence with Bud Jamison: don't make the violence too real! Jamison gets hit on the head with a couple hammers, then spends the rest of the scene wandering around the room slowly, clutching hands to head. Not so funny. At about 7:53, Larry delivers his trade mark line "Ba-ba-ba-boo!!! Ba-ba-ba-boo..." followed by a slap on the forehead from Moe. How sad is that, that Larry's trademark line depends on Moe slapping him on the head, but being second in command's not so bad sometimes. Larry and Curly almost score with the receptionist, but have to head back to the boss's office. At 9:02, Larry gives a nice comedy run around the corner. Curly does his trademark going down the wrong way of the hall, then walking back with class at this point in the proceedings as well. Oh, incidentally, here's the youTube link I'm using as a reference guide.
Which of course brings us to the end of Part One. Part Two is here on YouTube! It starts up with some 'hilarious' phone-related gags. Third glass door broken. How the boss keeps getting surprised by that, I'll never know. At 1:18, enter the great Billy Gilbert playing a dangerous patient. Not as meaty a part as you'd see him play in a Taxi Boys short, but whaddayagonna do. There are no small parts if you're not a small actor! At about the 2:02 minute mark or so, enter the boys' love of funny-sounding ingredients as they mix their very first toxic spoon-dissolving cocktail. 3:00: hilarious bit with a green 'canary.' 3:20: the squeaky-voiced nurse reappears with a hilarious case of the hiccups. At about the 4 minute mark here in part two, the guy who keeps repairing the doors finally gives up and breaks it himself. The boys oblige by not even opening the door, but walking through the giant empty space the window once occupied. Now, every film needs a big climactic episode to end on, and even Men in Black has one. I do hate to spoil it for you, but I must. The boss, in a moment of panic he will surely regret to the end of his days, swallows a piece of paper with the combination to the hospital safe on it. The boys decide they have to cut open his stomach to get it out. Now, I know exactly what you're thinking: why don't they just give him an emetic and he can throw it up? Well, that's exactly the sort of modern barbaric thinking that prevails today in the absence of the all-powerful Hays code, and besides, not climactic enough. But even in the face of impending tragedy, they can still find time to play an hilarious game of tic tac toe at about the 5 minute mark. The boss wakes up at 5:22 to ask for Schnapps. Good comedy beverage. More anesthetic for him. At 5:32, Larry delivers a tasteless equivalent of dramatic insurrection and is properly slapped down by Moe. Moe asks "Why are we whispering?" The nurse was whispering the whole time, see. Her answer to the question inspires the boys to take Larry's previous advice he got slapped for. Enter the hilarious surgical tool names. Further enter the hilarious "COTTON!" gag. The surgery ends up being a success, and they get that piece of paper back, but end up leaving some tools inside the boss. And by some, I mean ALL the tools. Well, it's times like that you have to go for the gusto. And what better ending than destroying the very loudspeaker system of the hospital they depend on for their assignments? It's not Escape from L.A. grand, but grand in its own way.
I dunno. Better just stick with three and a half stars and get on to the next one.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Coming up next: Three Little Pigskins!

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