Sunday, October 02, 2011

Like a duck on Moe's back

Pushing the big deadline again! Just like a Stooge, for God's sake. In the instant case, A Ducking They Did Go, we find the Stooges down on their luck again, all too ready to be on the run from the cops, even though their dogs are barking. The perfect opportunity presents itself: a bunch of watermelons await stealing on the back of a truck. The boys make like it's all a big football game. Moe grabs a papier maché melon and passes it to Larry, who hikes it to Curly. Even the truck driver, whose melon is being stolen, gets caught up in the spirit of the football moment. Curly fails to catch the melon, but a cop's head manages to catch it! Ain't that always the way? The chase begins and, as usually happens, the boys run into an employment opportunity that will typically consume the rest of the pic. In this case, as salesmen for something called the "Canvas Back Duck Club." Like canvas off a duck's back... that's gotta be a pun of some sort; probably more of its day.

The boys proceed to impress the two heads of the Canvas Back Duck Club. The big time waster comes early as Curly finally solves the mystery of the name "Canvas Back." Fortunately, Moe puts a quick stop to all that by saying his two magic words: "See that?" The two heads of the Canvas Back Duck Club put a stop to the Stooges' primitive behaviour and tell the Stooges to appeal to the primitive in office jockeys everywhere with a membership in the Canvas Back Duck Club. The Stooges get ten percent of fifty dollars! A lot of money back then. The two heads show their hand early... is this whole thing just a giant scam? During the Great Depression, no less? Well, even the Stooges should be suspicious of any business that would hire them as salesmen. Unless, of course, it gives them an opportunity to break a whole hell of a lot of bottles standing on a table... which one was that? The Bright-O one... Maybe it's this one. I dunno... that guy wasn't too happy about Curly giving him an egg hand! (3:23 here...)

It seems to start here as the boys leave the office in full salesman regalia. As usual, Vernon Dent runs afoul of the Stooges. Later on, he don't want a coat. He could use a good wardrobe here! He decides it's best to just get on the elevator without using the opportunity to vow that if he ever sees them again... well, you'll get used to the routine eventually. The Stooges pad out the scene in the hallway for as long as they can and head outside to begin their typical sales approach, behaving like a swarm of angry wasps. They try selling to the watermelon-headed cop, and the chase begins anew. The cop shoots into the air, hits a lamp light, causing it to fall on his head. You don't usually see that move these days in real life. The boys go from the frying pan to the fire, and find temporary safety in the police station. Well, we're not talking about a butterfly giving its grub to a bunch of ants here, and the cops aren't wise to the Stooges yet. And even though Moe's got a hunting gun with him, alarms aren't raised. They stumble into the office of the Chief of Police, played by the ever-reliable Bud Jamison. Authority figure, thug, any and all bad accents, the guy does it all. The Stooges give the sales pitch of a lifetime, and the Chief buys it!
The Stooges sell all the memberships and head back to the head office. The Stooges have a hard time getting their commission; they probably should've helped themselves to it in advance, but frankly, that's not fitting behavior for a Stooge. They would apparently have similar royalty troubles with Columbia to no end.

ACT 2.5?
The Stooges find themselves at some fancy club, singing that song they always sing: "You'll never know just what tears are 'til you made me cry the way..." ...something like that. An old timer swings by and tells the club goers that 1) the club ain't been used in years and 2) there ain't been no ducks in years. Dramatic tension mounted! The Stooges will go and find ducks by hook or by crook. Why, the Police would expect no less! Moe and Larry get by as best they can, but their supply of fake ducks runs out. And then, Curly saves the day... well, Moe's and Larry's day, anyway. Guess this is Act Three after all. Curly's ducks head out to be slaughtered. The shooting begins in earnest; the earlier deception apparently forgiven. The Stooges get caught up in this new frenzy and end up destroying their boat in the process. And then... Curly runs afoul of a comedy duck. Don't worry, you'll see this routine many times later on. Later on, Moe will try killing a comedy duck with an oar.

Karma is re-aligned in the end. As it turns out, Curly's ducks were the earlier yokel's prize ducks. The Stooges run away with asses full of buckshot, which would be enough in a normal film. For a Stooge-caliber film, what better ending than to re-enact the ending of A Pain in the Pullman, where the boys land on three bulls and bronco their way towards the sunset? Frankly, all the Pixar/Lucas magic in the world couldn't improve the gag; just make it better looking.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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