Friday, May 13, 2011

Curly goes Fishing, Catches Own Ass...

What's that guy's name?... Sherman Alexie! That's it. Well, I'm officially turning into my dad now. Thank God the internet always remembers the names of people and titles. But even the lone bard of Wellpinit agrees that this is his favorite Stooge film (Whoops, I'm an Indian!) as it reaffirms what he knows about the White man: the White man is a sarcastic person, to say the least, full of self loathing, finding his faults in other ethnic groups instead of in himself... something like that. Actually, Sherman and I would probably say that this is not the Stooge film we know and love the best, and they'll probably not even show it that often on Spike TV. It's Micro-Phonies, right? Is that still the odds-on fave of all Stooge-dom? Let's look on Curly's IMDb page and see what it says... The top four include Micro-Phonies, Disorder in the Court, A Plumbing We Will Go, and Violent is the Word for Curly. I'm in agreement on A Plumbing We Will Go... what kid wouldn't like that one? Of course, that one is a little bit insulting to African Americans... THAT'S what they call it? Dudley Dickerson is the black dude in A Plumbing We Will Go. Wikipedia calls him a master of "scared reaction" comedy. He gets bug-eyes a lot, in other words. They had a different guy in A Pain in the Pullman for that job.
But back to the racist insult we're currently looking at. We find the boys behaving worse than the worst Pawnee in the Old West. They're running a crooked game of chance in an unnamed saloon. In a bad case of set-up-itis, we see Larry adjust a magnet in his shoe... moccasin. Well, the Stooges were never one to confound an audience with unnecessary surprises like that. Larry's magnet trick is eventually rooted out, and the boys run out of town. Bud Jamison sets himself apart from the angry mob early in the proceedings with some lines of dialogue. He's using the accent that will later serve him so well in Dutiful but Dumb.
The law posts a $333.33 reward for the Stooges: dead or alive, preferably dead. The notice is posted on a tall tree. In the very same tree, we see stunt doubles for Moe and Curly. Moe says to Curly, "What did you do with the money?" Curly cheerfully replies "I threw it away so I could run faster!" Karmic balance has been restored, and is oh so hilarious. They soon find themselves off of the same tree. Back to the grueling business of survival. Moe decrees to Larry: "You get a moose, I'll get an elk." Curly got the following punchline from S.J. Perelman: "I'll get a Knight of Columbus!" There's a slight diversion so that Larry can get hit in the head with a bunch of pine cones, and one last one for good measure.
Following Moe's hunting orders, the two Horowitz brothers set about fishing. Moe sets up a great recurring gag, in which no fish is big enough. They're hard to reel in, though, and this requires the string-reeling sound effect they'll use later on in Dutiful but Dumb, when Curly's trying to reel in an oyster from his bowl of oyster soup using only a cracker and a whole spool of string. They never were much for fishing. Meanwhile, Larry's attending to the domestic duties inherent in tending the camp site. This won't be the last time he chops wood, only to have it fly up into the air, but I think it was the first. Wonder if he came up with that gag?
Let's see what the IMDb says about filming locations for this one, as they seem to be on location for the fishing sequences! Kinda cool... nope, no tab for filming locations. Wonder if they went to Hollenbeck Park on a weekday. It's probably more crowded on weekends. Well, the Stooges don't have too many bravura moments, but one with Curly comes close. Frustrated with catching fish the old-fashioned way, he decides on a 20th century technological approach, and marches straight into the river with a shotgun. We see several water-raising blasts, after which Curly marches triumphantly back out of the water, with a song in his heart, hauling a buncha fish on a line. Larry is unimpressed, but gets hit with said fish. Moe is also unimpressed, but only because he finally got the big fish he was waiting for. It promptly finds its way back into the river. Before he's able to administer a proper beating for this, another higher authority intervenes: that damn local sheriff. Curly pokes him in the eyes and makes a run for it. The three interrupt a picnic being held by three lovely ladies. This is no time for romance. The boys get into a canoe and row away as fast as its engine can carry them. Somehow I get the feeling we'll be seeing this canoe escape later on...
Act Two. Bud Jamison re-enters the picture. He comes home to find a note his wife has left him. His wife has run away with an Indian! Forbidden love! Bud becomes the stuff of Marvel comic super-villains, turning into sort of an Indian-hating Hulk, taking out his rage first on his table, then the world. The Stooges immediately poke their heads out from behind his cabin, and proceed to enter with hilarious consequences. Now, here's what sets this one apart from other Stooge shorts. Moe and Larry are still outside the house, Curly went around the back and went in. Moe knocked on the door, and a piece of wood above his head falls and hits him on the head. No taking it out on Larry! Very unusual.
Now, there comes a point in every Stooge film where a scene is longer than it should be due to budget constraints. You may have thought that the fishing sequence was it, and you'd be right, but the stalling is far from over. Moe looks out the window and sees the sheriff and his buddy approaching. Fortunately, born-again Indian hater Bud Jamison just happens to have three Indian costumes in his house. We don't see the Stooges go through the entire transformation, but damn close, and apparently without a script to work with. But aren't those the best moments of all, really? They manage to fool the sheriff, and they set about once again trying to feed themselves, breaking kashrut once again out of necessity since Jamison only has bacon. Jamison returns home, telling the Stooge Indians that it's one thing to steal his wife, but quite another to steal his food. Fortunately for the Stooges, Jamison's bark is worse than his bite, and the Stooges live to run away some more. And since they're pretending to be Indians, they all are going "Woo woo woo" and not just Curly. What a wasted opportunity that could've been.
Act Three. The boys decide their best course of action is to return to town in their Indian outfits, which makes me appreciate anew the plotting of Way Out West. It may be an overused cliché, but sometimes you need to rescue that stolen deed from the safe. Still, the Stooges have an ace up their sleeve. Bud Jamison RE-enters the picture, deciding to get drunk. He mistakes Curly for an attractive Indian woman. Curly and Bud Jamison get married by the sheriff. Jamison carries Curly upstairs to the honeymoon suite of the saloon. Oh, there's also a chorus line of dancers at the beginning of Act Three. Well, even the Stooges try to reach for that epic brass ring from time to time. Did I mention that somebody actually tries to carry Curly? Good Lord! You gotta be a strong guy to pull that off. Sadly, that's about as good as it gets here. Bud's beer goggles wear off, the boys run away again, and they end up locking themselves in jail. Not the best Stooge short, I'm afraid, despite the incendiary title Whoops I'm an Indian.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan
next week: Slippery Silks!

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