Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Fine Time for Earthquakes

You know, you might not know it from reading this damn blog, but I'm a college boy. And at the college we went to, there was sort of an implied emphasis on patriarchy. Especially America, of course. We're the paternalistic frat boy of the planet, and we've been sleeping on the world couch for about 30 years now. Something like that. In this week's Stooge short, Saved by the Belle... and good luck finding it on YouTube, because Tiffani Amber Thiessen's not in it... the three knuckleheads play old-fashioned American salesmen stranded in a fictional tropical paradise. I like to think that the heads of Columbia at the time were SO racist, they didn't want to risk giving a role for a Mexican to an actual Mexican, so what we have are slow-moving, yawning white guys playing native... Valeskans of the magical kingdom of Valeska. Don't worry, it won't be the last fictional country the stooges visit. What makes this fictional kingdom unique is the regular earthquakes that plague it. And what natural destructive phenomenon is more patriarchical than an earthquake. Excepting maybe the average meteor strike, nothing. Anyway, it's been a while since I sat down and watched the whole thing, but I dare say the earthquakes denote act breaks... I'll go with the theory anyway, what the hell. I'm feeling lucky.

The introductory earthquake... and I thought they put more effort into it. The camera moves, the drums roll, and a couple things fall over. These Stooges shoestring budgets give me a headache. Once again, there's buried treasure and bad guys who buried it. They're all set to go, but the Stooges are in the way, stuck with a hotel bill they can't shake... I'm sorry, ammunition is safely stored in the hills. The one guy, Joe, kinda sounds like this other actor that's always in Stooge films... Eddie Laughton. A Brit! Go fig... Anyway, the boys make their escape and wind up with a bunch of pillows. Curly is the idea man again and he gets the idea to use pillows as earthquake shock absorbers. Here's how it works: there's an earthquake, you fall on your ass, and the pillow absorbs the shock. Curly goes so far as to demonstrate it himself! Ouch. But government bureaucrats... I mean, policemen, sabotage the working man again. Also, it doesn't help matters much that Moe grabs one of the policemen's gun and points it at a wise-ass parrot with intent to kill. The boys get whisked rudely away to see General ... Casino? Good comedy name. This was made before Castro, so it's not a play on his name... I think.

Scene: the General's office. Moe and Curly openly flirt with a sexy senorita dressed in noir business attire. It's a different kind of flirting, admittedly. The boys are accused of being spies. We'll see the General later on a couple times, more famously in An Ache in Every Stake and Micro-Phonies. The boys are free to go. Flirting saves the day! Then, the talking parrot provides a nice plot twist. The boys get searched before they go. The letter they got is a bit misread and, rather instantly, the boys are whisked off to a jail cell and are to be shot at sunrise... has this happened to them before? One thing that hasn't happened before is: this time, they get stuck getting pulled out the door. God bless you, Charley Chase! Curly ad-libs "This is all your fault. Have you got a shoehorn?"

... hasn't happened yet, but it's coming. I saw this already, and am feverishly blogging to catch up. The boys are in one of the strangest jail cells I've ever seen. Larry's big line: "This is the hardest bread I ever saw." ...something like that. The sexy senorita, Rita, hands them food through the jail window bars, of course. The boys get the idea to give soup to the guard. Moe opens the door to another chamber where the guard is sitting. Very unusual. He offers the guard the soup. The guard says "No, I don't like soap." Moe says, "Not soap... Soup! Soup!" The guard finally gets it and accepts the soup. Moe calls the guard an ignoramus, and goes back into the jail cell proper to continue eating Rita's food. The food contains... you guessed it! Tools for escaping. More Charley Chase ingenuity: they saw on the iron bars while the guard is loudly slurping soup. The boys keep working. Cue the next earthquake. This one's a little more impressive, except that you can see where the wall's going to break. It's kinda like in the old Warner Brothers cartoons where you can tell the difference between the cartoon's background and an object in the foreground that's about to be used for something. The only example that comes to mind at the moment is a cat tail used by Daffy Duck in "Daffy Duck and Egghead." Anyway, the boys keep working on the bars despite this hole in the wall. Their new-fangled loyalty to Rita is so strong that, even though she's standing at the hole telling them to come on, they keep sawing at the bars. The things a guy will do to impress a dame.
They end up back in General Casino's office to steal a map. And then... ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE!! The map falls behind a couch. More plot devices. This is too good to spoil. Rita tells the boys to "Harry! Harry! Harry, boys!"


The boys make their escape on a comedy horse, and find themselves in the middle of a bunch of tents. As it happens... the hotel owner they ran out on just happens to be the leader of the resistance! Fortunately, Rita saves their bacon yet again. Boy, she sure seems sweet on Curly for some reason! Maybe she's got a thing for fat guys. But I'm afraid their romance is doomed to fail, as she's freaked out by the strange Stooge customs of random acts of violence. And her valiant attempt to save the boys' lives are sneakily undermined at every turn. And who's this Elaine that Curly mentions? Must be this one on his IMDb page. Cue the Act Three earthquake, and the boys end up driving off in a big truck full of explosives. Curly's still got that parrot with him. The boys' slow wit fails them spectacularly here, but they ever so slowly realize they're driving a truck full of explosives. The first two exploding grenades doesn't quite set off the alarm bells, but the lit dynamite stick eventually does. Credit where credit's due: Curly lights a cigar, and Moe tells Curly not to throw the match into the street as it might start a fire. Smokey the Bear, eat your heart out. The boys drive past their horse with the comedy back, the dynamite eventually goes off, and the boys land on the horse's back. I hope they were stunt dummies. I tend to think at this point that the boys died and try to ride to Heaven on the back of a comedy horse, but they of course don't quite make it. Fortunately, the horse has one of Curly's earthquake shock absorber pillows on, in case you were wondering why the horse's ass looked a little strange. Kinda hard to tell on YouTube.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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