Otherwise known as Goofs and Saddles. When am I going to get to one I can review in my sleep, having seen it on an above average basis? Sigh. Guess it's going to take a while. But that's the nice thing about Stooge films: if you've seen one, you may be seeing footage they'll recycle in several future Stooge films. Hell, they might even use some footage in the upcoming Farrelly brothers Stooge film! Wouldn't THAT be a trip? Or what's the word I'm looking for... a fraud? One or the other.
But back to the film at hand. As in Uncivil Warriors, the Stooges are mistakenly thought to be the only solution to a wartime problem. This time, however, it's probably supposed to be the Reconstruction, and cattle rustling is rampant in the post-Civil War Old West. The Army brass are clearly exceeding their authority here, as they are declaring war on their fellow white man, but that's the premise. Either you'll accept it or you won't. The Stooges make an entrance not quite as grand as they did in Uncivil Warriors and, to rub more salt into someone's wounds, their stunt doubles do the heavy lifting. To be fair, though, it looks like they're dropping actual stunt doubles from the tree above as opposed to dummies. Wottan entrance.
This time, Theodore Lorch, the arch nemesis in Uncivil Warriors, is now giving orders to the Stooges to GET THOSE DAMN CATTLE RUSTLERS! The entire West is depending on them! Lord help us all...
Act One begins in earnest. The Stooges head off to the bad lands. You, the audience member, will be able to tell, because the bad lands are clearly marked with a sign that says "Bad Lands." Off to a good comedy yuk-yuk start. The boys put their ears to the ground to hear who's coming. The boys' heads get run over by a stagecoach. It's going to be that kind of day. To compound matters, Larry blows the mud out of Moe's ears, only to have it hit Curly in the face. Curly is very non-plussed by this revolting development. Well, at least it's not a damn custard pie!
The boys see a couple cattle rustlers about to do their thing. They spring into action and make some hasty decoys out of tree limbs and holly, and proceed to run around in their "ghillie" suits like idiots just long enough for the laugh to die down. Meanwhile, the bad guys get alerted that scouts are on the way to get 'em, so one level of tension is built. Another immediate level is built by a smart dog barking at the ghillie suits. A bad guy idiot thinks the dog's cornered a rabbit, and proceeds to get his gun to shoot at it. Genius!! His plan gets foiled by a smart Stooge. The bad guy's scolded by another bad guy, and is instructed to get some wood for the fire. Genius! Their cover is eventually blown by a hungry donkey. Well, at least one species possesses some smarts 'round these parts. The Stooges' cover is eventually blown, and they run away like idiots at 12 frames per second. They occasionally jump high as they run away to make it look more interesting as the bullets whiz past.
Act Two? Time to meet Longhorn Pete, the alpha bad guy. So alpha, in fact, he's got his own sign on his own saloon. Doesn't get more д than that... close enough. But in this age of relativism and accelerated class warfare, one can't help but feel sorry for the Longhorn Petes of old. A whole empire of cattle rustling to lord over, and all the man wants is to play himself a damn game of cards. Is that so much to ask? ...an HONEST game of cards. See? There has to be SOME government regulation after all! The terrorists win again. Anyway, I think Longhorn Pete is played by that bastard Sergeant from the one pic who beat up the Stooges in not one, but TWO world wars! He deserves what's coming to him, then... could someone else look that up instead of me for a change? Is THAT so much to ask? Meanwhile, the Stooges arive in disguise at said saloon, and proceed to destroy the joint, starting with some comedy break-away mugs filled with delicious hooch. Well, I hope the floor enjoys the occasional glass of beer...
Longhorn Pete, in his mad quest to find the white whale of an honest card game, proceeds to shoot the three non-Stooge poker players in his first game, thereby freeing up room for the Stooges to take their places. They're playing 5 card stud, I guess. Curly seems to have forgotten his dentures, and bets. Fortunately for the Stooges, Longhorn Pete can't see through the Stooges' blatant poker code, or see under the table to spy the Stooges' fancy footwork involved in rigging the game that much further. Sorry, I probably should've said Spoiler Alert there. This is the part where the film is padded out for time, but it's a more solid excuse than I've seen in a while, I'll give them that. They don't skimp on plot developments in the rest of the film, I'll give 'em that, too.
Once the boys give up trying to win that hand after the threat of violence is laid out on the table as an implicit part of the pot, the boys decide to send a message to General Muster via pigeon... once they get out into the hall and see it filled with pigeons. Teachable moment: always know which pigeon you're using. I'll skip the valuable plot details at this point and go right to the big, thrilling chase. The Stooges have an advantage, as they're dragging along a wagon with Curly in it, and a bunch of stuff that just might be good for throwing at pursuing bad guys! Hmmm. But before this happens, Curly gets tortured by a stowaway monkey. Damn dirty apes! Of course, even this advantage the Stooges have gets f... fowled up. There's still three minutes left to go in the film! They end up in a cabin, having to fend off four baddies on horses with guns. Horses with pots and pans on their feet, true, but the baddies still have guns. The baddies start shooting. At 6:42 in part 2 on youtube, Curly gets a bad knock on the head. So bad that it makes the quality of the film a little grayer and brighter than the rest of the film. I hope that bucket had head padding in it. Mmmm... head padding. Anyway, Larry gets a couple bad guys with the ol' window on the neck trick. And then... like that guy who accidentally discovered penicillin, the stroke of genius arrives: Curly's need for hand-ground hamburger produces a machine gun worthy of patenting. Apparently, hunger is the mother of invention after all! Perhaps the mother of violence as well. And violent is the word for Curly, but never mind. It's all connected. The Stooges find a whole belt of bullets to feed it. They only end up knocking off the bad guys' hats, but the bad guys are scared enough to lay down on the ground. Why, the contraption's so simple, a monkey could operate it! Oh, but I give away too much of the plot again...
Book suggestion: Crossing the Next Meridian by Charles Wilkinson
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan