Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sing a Song of Six Slippery Silks...

Inheritance... is there any more tried and true staple of comedy? Besides cross-dressing? The Stooges leaned on this comedy crutch many times, but at least here they try to do the right thing and become proper businessmen, of sorts. But first, we find the three knuckleheads working at a cabinetmaker's business. They see a slew of policemen arrive in front of the shop, and out of old, old habit, Moe says "The cops! Quick! Hide!!!" We don't even get the pleasure of seeing them commit an initial act of vagrancy... is it not implied by their very appearance?
And so, Act One begins. Vernon Dent is accompanied by a slew of shotgun-toting cops because he's bringing a very valuable, very tiny Chinese cabinet to this cabinetmaker's shop in order to make an exact duplicate of it. For what reason, we don't know. Probably to sell it on the black market at a high profit. Just like Ripley's Game! Only with Chinese cabinetry instead of phony drawings. Still, one can't help but feel an impending sense of dread, knowing that something valuable is about to be completely destroyed. Even though it's just a Stooge film, that sense is quite palpable, indeed. But, the wheels are put in motion. Vernon Dent does however ask the question: "Are you sure this is in competent hands?" Curly replies "Soitenly! We're all incompetent!" The older I get, the more I appreciate the boss' reaction to this as he whisks Vernon Dent away so the Stooges can set out to destroy the Chinese cabinet in private.
And boy, do they not disappoint. They go about it in a roundabout way, warming up with a falling board gag, which I remember best from A Bird in the Head, and the ol' ass full of nails gag, which I remember most fondly from Corny Casanovas. Spoiler alert: the tiny Chinese cabinet gets placed on the platform of a table saw, the saw gets turned on, Moe sets about trying to discipline Curly, while Curly ever so gently tries to tell Moe that the cabinet is about to be destroyed. The cabinet gets cut in half by the saw. Then the real destruction begins as the Stooges attempt to glue it back together. The glue spills onto some wooden planks on the ground, which Curly proceeds to step on. This must be the strongest, most fast-acting glue in the world, because about five seconds after Curly steps on the boards, Vernon Dent emerges from the boss' office, screams "My cabinet!", and the boys are off. Curly runs away with the two boards on his feet. If only he were in the mountains with a pair of ski poles, and he'd be ready to do some cross-country skiing! Fortunately, Vernon Dent gets sidetracked, but the boys soon have a fresh pursuer: some Missing Persons agents are out looking for the Stooges to inform them about their inheritance: a fancy-shmancy French boutique. Larry starts to pass out from the excitement, and says "Water... give me water." His reaction when his wish comes true, but not in the way he meant: priceless. This single-handedly makes it a four-star Stooge short.
Act Two: the boys become management of Madame de France. It's Hoi Polloi for real, and they proceed to alienate their entire clientele as quickly as possible. Curly discovers a mannequin hand that slaps back when you push on it. How he introduces it to Moe: priceless. This also single-handedly makes this a four-star Stooge short. However, it's not all good: after doing the ol' all-three-of-them-on-the-phone gag, Larry and Curly do an anti-gay slur on Moe. I should probably deduct at least half a star for that... ah, who cares. And when will anyone learn? Never let a Stooge near a pair of scissors! NEVER! Fortunately, they only hurt each other with the scissors... at least, until Act Three. Well, these kinds of rules were meant to be broken, I suppose. Great reward with great risk, something like that.
Meanwhile, Act Three is set up perfectly. Vernon Dent reappears, as his wife requests a fashion show with the latest Madame de France fashions. Oh, if only Vernon Dent could get his hands on those three guys that destroyed his cabinet. So far, his best reaction seems to be in Scrambled Brains, playing the angry tall Texan. The way he takes off his coat in that, saying "Why, I'll murder you...": priceless. Unfortunately, Vernon's revenge falls flat here, as it must make way for a pie fight with French pastry. One more note before we proceed to Act Three: Moe draws a comparison between women's fashion and furniture that would make David Mamet envious: the crazier they look, the more women will pay for them! I smell a new Mamet play!
Act Three: the boys put on a fashion show. It starts out serious, with music that sounds like that 20s era song from Kubrick's The Shining... you know, Midnight, and I think of you... something like that. Anyway, after a couple serious outfits, the boys' crazy amalgam of dresses and cabinetry makes its debut. The wife of Vernon Dent, played by the peerless Symona Boniface (great name, too!), is so impressed with the Stooges' cabinet-dresses... for some reason... that she accepts an offer to have a dress made just for her. The boys immediately whisk her away to the fitting room. Vernon Dent comes looking for her, she gets accidentally stabbed in the ass with a stray pair of scissors and screams. Vernon Dent says "Honey! I heard you scream, is everything all right?...THOSE ARE THE THREE GUYS THAT RUINED MY CABINET!" Well, needless to say, it's the spark that ignites the powder keg, leading to all hell breaking loose. Curly gets punched in rapid succession numerous times, Moe pokes Vernon in the eyes, Larry throws a punch that knocks out Moe... and the pastry fight begins. Moe must've poked Vernon in the eyes pretty hard! He's not around for the big pastry fight. Probably just as well. Incidentally, why do all the pies in a Stooges pie fight sound the same when they hit? Must be a cost-cutting measure. The usual stuff happens. People try to stop the pie fight by calling for sanity, but it's all in vain. It all just starts up again one way or another. Curly gets hit by three pastries in a row. Someone thinks it's funny; probably the director. Moe holds up Larry's head as they all hide behind a counter, and Larry gets hit. But in all fairness, he was asking for it. Three hoity-toity ladies get three mannequin legs, seek out the Stooges hiding behind the counter, and proceed to bring this film to its appropriate ending. One of the ladies says "Boys! Boys! Boys!" I point this out because it's kind of a clunky line reading. Not fast or urgent enough. I blame the director for that.
There's probably a few details I've missed, but I did notice the ending music was slightly different! That was pretty cool. I'll have to check my DVD collection for this one. Slippery Silks isn't one of the ten to twenty Stooge films I seem to always watch, but maybe it's time. Maybe it's time.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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