I set my chin a little higher, hope a little longer, build a little stronger tassels in the air... Ah, how the high and low of society come together. Endlessly fascinating phenomenon. As for the Stooges, even they had to acknowledge crackerjack casting, as the same high-class dame appears again here as she did in Bugs of 1938... I mean, Termites of 1938. Some might think of her as the Stooges' Margaret Dumont... and they'd be right! For me, though, that one chick proved to be their comic equal time and time again, ol' what's her name... Symona Boniface! That's the one. Great name, too.
Anyway, here's the setup for Tassels in the Air: some nouveau riche types want their house redecorated by a famous French designer. Well, the lady does, anyway. The guy just wants to sit in a chair, smoke cigars and read the funny papers. As a former letter carrier myself, I know all too well the desire to rest. A phone call is placed to this French guy, this Omay person... wait for it! The call is rudely sabotaged by noises coming from the hallway... you guessed it! The Stooges pass themselves off as qualified to work on a hallway. Curly and Larry are playing "Paint Can Draughts." Will something get spilled? Could it be paint? Moe kicks Curly in the ass, but they dubbed in the groan later on. Moe stubs his foot, and the boys proceed to mock him, as he jumps around to a groovy beat. I guess the writers felt the plot was a little thin on this one, because once again Curly has a comedy affliction. This time, it's not that Weasel tune or seeing a mouse. This time, if Curly sees a tassel, he starts barking like a hellhound. The only way to get him to stop is to paint his chin with a brush. My French is a bit rusty, but I think the guy says "I'm living in a crazy house!" Couldn't make out that first part.
And then, the trigger that sets off the comedy. Vernon Dent, the boss, gives Moe a direct order. Moe gives the others perhaps the best piece of advice ever uttered by a Stooge, "It's the boss. Show a little interest in your work." And then, Stooge immortality is bourne anew. Moe's orders are quite simple: stencil in some lettering on the doors in the hallway. There's two piles of stencils: these go on this side, these go on that side. Well, you really gotta see it for yourself to truly appreciate it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAMXmW61nWk). Curly must've been having a bad day when he barks at Larry. Which one is right, the one that's left... the very idea. Such levity.
Now, for those of you with a good ear for comedy names, you might have guessed that Omay might be a French name, but there's still something not quite right about it. The Pig Latin angle is introduced. Curly doesn't understand. Larry helpfully says, "Anybody can understand it! It's very simple." Curly retorts, "Well I can't, and I'm simple!" The other two wait for the laugh. Moe's School of Hard Knocks, Pig Latin 101 continues. Curly helpfully gets into a listening pose, for which he gets a slap. For getting a laugh, Moe starts to grab the bluntest object to hit Curly with. Curly himself becomes a blunt object, for just at that moment the high society type lady starts to go through the door mistakenly labeled "Omay." The lady is knocked down on her ass, but her desperation for social mobility trumps this temporary setback. Moe unfortunately leads this poor nouveau riche woman down the primrose path, and plays along. Curly has another tassel attack, and gets his chin painted a color this time. The boys are summoned into the hall by Vernon Dent. On his way out, Curly grabs one of the lady's tassels! An unacceptable breach of his comedy affliction, but never mind. Long story short, the boys lose their day job, so they continue the charade. Vernon Dent, in his fury, forgets where his office is. This time, it costs him dearly. But he goes out with a dash of style, copying the Frenchman's rage at his office door being mislabeled the janitor's closet. An especially painful slight to any designer, I suppose.
The boys get to work destroying the lady's house. They start painting a big table. The butler tells them "You can't paint this table! It's an antique. It once belonged to Louis the 16th!" Larry rightfully observes, "Oh! Second-hand, eh?" This is America, damn it! We eat FREEDOM fries!... oh, right. That was last decade. Moe must really be getting into his part as an artiste, because he takes an instant disliking to Bud Jamison when he tries to horn in on their game. Bud says, "Boy, I wish there was something I could do to help you guys. I haven't held a paintbrush in years." But Moe's got the perfect ruse. "Sure! Go out and mix us a batch of spotted paint!"
Then, a very strange thing happens. Moe makes a Curly mistake. He's... okay, I'll keep going. He's painting the side of the table, and Larry's behind is at the end of it. He paints Larry's behind in addition to the table. Larry wonders what's going on. Moe does it again. Larry gets suspicious. Realizing what's going on, Larry explodes in anger, Moe style! The very next scene, Larry does the same thing to Curly's head. The comedy escalates from there. Explaining it further would just ruin it. Curly gets pissed off at Larry. He must've been late for his golf game... wait, wrong overweight comedian. The long-suffering butler brings the boys lunch. Moe says, "We'll eat while we work! C'mon." Well, a good idea's a good idea.
Guests arrive. The boys are painting the stairs. Alarm bells are starting to ring. The high-class dame introduces Moe to the woman who recommended Omay's work in the first place. Okay, so she doesn't know what Omay looks like. Why split hairs now? While all this is going on, Curly was busy painting the folding chairs in the card room. Curly comes out of the room, sees the high-class dame. The high-class dame looks worried. Brilliant directing. Even though she has no visible tassels, Curly starts going into his frenzy. The lady runs into the card room. Curly is subdued. Having no brush handy to tickle Curly's chin, Moe grabs a big fistful of Larry's hair instead. We go back to Bud Jamison, still hard at work trying to make spotted paint. He's got a colender now, and he's doing what he can. Jackson Pollock, eat your heart out!
The ladies set about to playing cards. The high-class dame gets more and more uncomfortable with the Stooges as the seconds pass. Curly proceeds to destroy the clock: first, by trying to eat part of the clock that looks like a corn on the cob, then secondly when Moe tells him to paint the cuckoo bird. Curly paints the bird, then takes a break. "It won't be out for another hour!" Moe helpfully turns the clock ahead an hour behind Curly's back. The cuckoo bird sings, and Curly sings along with it, freaks out, and gets back to work. Larry goes modern art on the wall with a stencil saying "No checks cashed." Almost on a par with "Smash Capitalism" from The Magic Christian.
There's two minutes left! WHEN IS THE BIG PIE FIGHT GOING TO BREAK OUT?!!!! Sigh. I guess it's not going to happen. The original Omay manages to barge his way into the card room and confronts the woman who recommended him to Mrs. Smirch. Might as well use her name at this point. Good comedy name. The woman recommender looks guilty, but why? Somebody's confusing the plot. The Stooges go into either revenge mode, or panic mode. Hard to say. The three guests leave with folding chairs stuck to their asses. The Stooges mean to get Stooge-style revenge and hit them with paint cans. It doesn't go as planned, and frankly they don't land the ending either. Well, it's not as good as Yes, We Have No Bonanza, anyway.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan