Saturday, March 05, 2011

Dyslexic Civil War Reenacters Untie!!

Sorry, that's the best I can do, pun-wise. But the big 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War is approaching ... or was approaching ... the point is, the South's excited, and not in the good way. And the Stooges still haven't found their Three Blind Mice theme yet! Anyway, I've delayed it about as long as I can, so let's dive right in to our next Stooges short: Uncivil Warriors. (YouTube link) This was back when they either had a budget, or had access to better pictures' sets over the weekend. They were clearly more ambitious in terms of breadth and depth of plots, periods in history, what have you. From Medieval to the Civil War, they pretty much did it all. And we start this one with my new favorite actor of all time: James C. Morton. Having come through the ranks at Hal Roach as a leading character actor, he got some pretty meaty, juicy roles with the Stooges... sort of. Note how he always talks the same way! You'll see what I mean soon enough.
And so, a problem has arisen that requires the skill and expertise of three knuckleheads. In this case, Operators 12, 14 and 15 need to infiltrate a Southern stronghold. "They are the very brains of the entire Secret Service!" It's a wonder the war ever ended. Enter the boys from the forest, with Curly giving his now trademark Woo Woo Woo at 1:18, first heard in Punch Drunks. Big crash at 1:26. Priceless. Leading to the Cigar as Pancake gag a few seconds later.
Now, pretty much anytime the Stooges are in the Army, they're gonna hit each other in the face when saluting. That's a given. They end up doing it twice here, with Moe giving a rare "Beep-Beep" as part of his unique salute. At 1:59, Morton waits for the laugh, at which point the issue of the missing Operator 13 is addressed with the usual Stooge manner.
And so, the Second Act sort of begins in earnest around the 2:30 mark, with comedy names to spare... Duck, Dodge and Hyde. The very idea! At 3:10, the boys take off for their quarry, with Curly giving a DIFFERENT woo woo woo! I'm shocked! Then, they do this gag where we see three sets of legs, and in the next shot it's a horse and Curly, but in the close-up it's obviously three men... isn't it?
At 4:06, Curly falls victim to the old deep river gag, giving part of the ol' Punch Drunks yell. At 4:29, there's a very, very abrupt transition to the next scene. Poor direction. Still hilarious, though. At least Curly's all dry at this point. Then, they do the swinging branch gag, for lack of a better term. At 5:07, Larry says "Another sentry!" More bad direction. Where's the first sentry? Anyway, they do the ol' Charlie Walks Like This gag at 5:38... aren't there any original jokes here???? Good Lawrd. This must've been the first time they did it. In later iterations, the other Stooges say "Naw, he don't walk like that. It's more like THIS!!" Great stuff. At 6:44, CHARLIE shows up!!! I'm freakin' out, man. Anyway, by 7:00, they're in the Southern mansion laughing it up with Bud Jamison. Curly tells an awful "joke"... not offensive or sexist or anything, just barely a joke, on the "Why did the chicken cross the road"-plane of existence. And if there's anything that Moe hates more than anything... IT'S BAD JOKES! Curly realizes he's in for some physical abuse, and Moe takes his time to strike, which is pretty rare for him. Curly gets a triple dose of abuse... oh, I just can't do this right now. They do the Pillow as Cake gag, do some awkward costume changes and role-playing in mid-conversation with a suspicious Southerner... but there's one exchange I really like for some reason. Moe goes to get Curly's "lost child". He says "Don't worry, I'll get him." The suspicious Southerner goes "Him?" "Her," says Moe. "Her?" Moe finally yells "IT!"

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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