Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Three Stooges: On Maniacs and the Movies

Ah, another childhood favourite. This one was on either volume one or volume two of the ol' VHS compilations... I think two. Volume One had Dizzy Pilots, A Bird in the Head, and Three Sappy People. Volume Two had Movie Maniacs, Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise, and... one other. Clearly not enough for a young budding Three Stooges fan, but those are the breaks.
Anyway, on to the plot. We start with a train; always a promising start. The Stooges find themselves in a shipment of furniture bound for Hollywood. A fitting place for the Stooges to find themselves in, but it's the destination that should worry the Hollywood status quo. Act One involves the boys getting ready for their West Coast debut. Larry tries pressing Moe's pants. Will it go smoothly? Meanwhile, Curly is attempting to make the world's largest pancake. Will THAT go smoothly? If you answered yes to both, you're either being Dave Barry-esque ironic in a post-modern world or, worse yet, you need to do your homework. Start here at YouTube. Ah, YouTube. You'll spoil us all.
Act Two: the boys find a home at Carnation Pictures. They didn't want to go meta and try breaking in to Columbia. Apparently, a made-up studio was more prestigious than Columbia at that time. They have a little trouble getting past the keepers of the studio gate, but a narrow window of opportunity opens up for them. Plot devices abound, helping the boys to get to where they need to be at precisely this right moment. Can you guess what it is? Just like in Pop Goes the Easel, the powers that be are expecting three men. In the case of Movie Maniacs, three New York executives are coming to take charge of the studio. The boys more or less pass for the executive type; Curly is prepared with novelty-sized pens and pencils. Bud Jamison plays Fuller Rath, the beleaguered chief of Carnation Studios... great comedy name!
The Stooges are dispatched right away to a Carnation movie set, and proceed to destroy a perfectly normal melodramatic picture. The power goes to their heads and they end up driving the director crazy to the point of quitting. His actors quit in protest as well, which does not bode well for the power-starved Stooges. Curly in a blond wig ends up playing the woman's role, with Larry as the dashing, bald-headed leading man. The script is also redone, and Larry and Curly also end up doubling as their own stunt doubles. I should probably mention that Curly is at his high-pitched best here, providing that special brand of manic energy that only he can.
Act Three. Rath gets another message that the three New York exec's plane is stuck on the tarmac due to fog. The Stooges' short tenure as the hot young Orson Welles on the block is officially over. As the gathering hordes of studio security assemble, Moe says "I think our genius ain't appreciated here. Let's scram." The movie crew around them seems to try and grab the Stooges, but alas, their anarchic power is much too forceful and overpowers the crew. They run away only to find themselves literally in the lion's den. MGM tried to stop this scene, but obviously failed. The boys then have to run away from the lions. Fortunately for them, they're always one edit ahead of the lions. Movie magic!!!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

next week: Half Shot Shooters!!!!!

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