Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Hey, don't look now, but I think we're about to be killed!"

FINALLY! One I don't have to watch... but what the hell, I don't have a whole lot on my plate right now


We start off with the bad guys this time, a gang of three crooks who don't even use a gun. They're slick slicksters who talk old widows into handing over the deeds to their houses. If I remember correctly, Nixon used to do something similar before he became president. But the high and low tend to cross paths in California, and the three white collar criminals drive past our three blue-collar heroes. Larry jumps out of the way into Moe's arms; Moe promptly throws Larry onto the ground. Well, not too promptly, but you get the idea. The first recurring acorn is planted in the brain when Curly says he craves roast chicken and dumplings. Over the course of the next 16 minutes or so, it will become a mighty oak. A mighty oak indeed. Moe slaps Curly, telling him it was for not dreaming enough for the both of them. A smart sentiment. Doesn't bode well for Larry. Yes, Curly is indeed in full bloom here, chewing up the scenery like nobody's business. But before Moe can really tear into Curly, Larry spots the farm across the street. The boys enter. Curly finds an egg. Some capering ensues. The farmer comes in. Seeing as how this was the Great Depression and all, and the farmer apparently had no Mexicans working for him, the farmer offers to feed the boys after they saw up some wood... hoh boy. Here we go.
Curly ends up getting the back of his head sawed by this giant saw. Cheese and crackers. Ah, I remember the good old days when we would rewind the VCR tape and watch that part a couple of times, wondering how the hell they did that. Even now I can't help but squeam at it. Incidentally, when Curly wrecks a tool like that, there are no follow-ups... until now. Moe and Larry have to keep using this saw, but can't because of the teeth ravaged by Curly's corundum head! Moe loses it and starts chasing Curly round the wood. Moe gets hit in the stomach with the saw... it's too hard to explain. Curly gets hit with the saw next. Now, finer movie critics than I also cut their teeth on this movie, and noticed differences in Curly's line readings. In Movie Maniacs and the instant case, Curly ends up saying "My mother knows my name." I think the general consensus is that his line reading in Movie Maniacs was better than it is in Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise. But I can see the wisdom in both approaches: it's hard to keep things fresh.
It's not quite Act Two yet... The farmer comes back in, sees the mess the boys made, and gives them an easier task to do: loading a wagon. It's either that or jail, and the boys are still eager to impress. Of course, even a task as simple as loading a wagon can get totally f... messed up by the Stooges. This is the stark contrast between Laurel & Hardy and the Three Stooges. The modern world's conveniences never fail to foul up L&H's plans. The Stooges seem a little more deliberate in comparison. Anyway, the final score: Curly - 0, Faulty Wagon Bottom - 4. Curly ends up in close to genuine tears. So painful to watch.

ACT TWO these blank.gifs are breeding like rabbits!

We see the deednappers at work, but their luck's about to change... or, at least, cross paths with the Stooges. Worse than any voodoo. One of the bad guys steps in mud, almost as bad as the mud that Principal Ed Rooney runs afoul of at the Bueller residence... geez! I must be stuck in 1985. God, I hate that song. Anyway, the muddy foot guy uses the wrong sign to wipe off his foot with, and off he goes to join his buddies. Meanwhile, the Stooges are on foot. How they ended up with the irate farmer is wisely left alone. We'll see him again as an army sergeant that the boys REALLY run afoul of. Good comedic foil. The boys are so tired from walking that Curly can't even bark like a dog at his usual full throttle. And then... let the wishing begin! Fear itself is the only thing after all! The Stooges become proverbial Cinderellas when they stumble across the "free auto." Once again, finer eyes detected that the boys run towards the car early. (Curly 7:13) Sloppy, sloppy editing, but that's Cannery Row for ya!
Is it just me, or would Barry Sonnenfeld make a good Curly? Well, maybe 10 years ago. Alas, Awesomest Maximus will just have to do. He works cheap. Curly's wish streak continues, as the boys stumble upon a house with a nice old lady cooking up a batch of roast chicken, dumplings, and hot apple pie. An early example of dubbing: Curly whispers to Moe, "Gee, I wish she had some roast chicken and dumplings!" Is Hollywood always this magical? Moe does an impression of Shemp at about 9:44. Again, maybe it's just me, but it's indeed rare to see Moe not angry, and not on the verge of a spate of violence. The boys eat their fill, then offer to do some work for this nice lady. Curly's next wish: to meet three beautiful girls. The wish comes true when the nice lady's three daughters come home from a bathing beauty contest. The boys immediately stop what they're doing and introduce themselves. The nice old lady wisely gets them back on track. Back they go to fix the pump. Their penchant for chaos serves all well as they discover a very giving oil reserve on the nice old lady's land. Welp, that's one thing to be said about solar panels! You can't just dig 'em up. The oil well's erupting from the ground, and the boys, ever the idea men, get the idea to stop the gusher with Curly's ass. It works for a while, but Curly eventually isn't enough to hold back the oil stream, and he ends up in the air. At about 4:17, Curly sounds a bit like John Candy when he says "Get me down," I dare say! Maybe I'm up too late. Moe and Larry eventually lasso Curly, and yank him down off the oil stream, and he falls, breaks his neck, and dies instantly. No, not really, but still... damn, you know SOMEBODY got hurt doing all this stuff! The nice old lady... let's call her the widow Jenkins at this point, what the hell. The boys tell the widow Jenkins that she's rich. The widow Jenkins informs the boys that she just handed over her deed. Now who's acting like a Stooge? Anyway, the Stooges change out of their oil-soaked clothes into some dry clothes. They storm off looking like three widow Jenkinses, and act even more butch than usual to compensate for their new duds. They drive around in search of the crooks and fortunately happen upon them rather quickly.


I just realized! I didn't break for Act 3 yet. Might as well do it here. Anyway, they find the bad guys, defeat the bad guys, sit back and let the car drive itself like three idiots, regain control of the car, and defeat the widow Jenkins' picket fence with the bad guys' car. Curly's last wish for a Justice of the Peace comes true. I didn't recognize him because he didn't have a face full of mashed potatoes. Curly makes a Dionne quintuplets reference, kisses Moe on the face, and it ends. And so ends an unusually action-packed Stooge film. One of the actual classics. Again, maybe I'm just biased because it's a childhood favourite. You could warp your kids with worse these days.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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