Monday, December 19, 2011

The tools we use every 10 years

All right, let's get this one over with. This was one that famously, or infamously, got a new-fangled colorization treatment so that it looks like Barton Fink or something. It also features some great violent Stooge moments, like Moe doing the rumba on the side of Curly's face with a cheese grater, and Moe getting hit over the head with a rather thick broom handle. And if I remember correctly, Larry gets grabbed by his curly locks and slapped in the head. Timeless.


We start innocently enough with a second hand store front. The front of a second hand store, if you will. I won't spoil the Stooges' stunt doubles' grand entrance for you. That's the least I can do. I'll spoil just about everything else, though. For example, the standard play in these kind of deals is that the boys start hitting each other until they end up breaking something. They run into an office building or an apartment building, and before you know it, they've got a new job. In this case, as you can guess from the title, No Census, No Feeling (... is that a play on something?), they end up as Census takers. Moe tells Curly, "We're working for the Census!" Curly asks, "You mean Will Hays?" Follow this link to read more about the infamous Hays Code. Ah, good ol' Wikipedia, Charlie Brown. Will college papers ever be the same? The boys ultimately decide to split up. They can do more damage that way.
Moe gets hit by a flying pitcher... never mind. Larry, ever the lead idiot, ends up back at the original store they trashed. Note to any future Census takers: DON'T be like Larry. Curly finds himself in a classy joint and proceeds to destroy it when no one's around. Ah, a Stooge in love. More destructive than any terrorist.
Addendum: Curly finds himself in the KITCHEN of a classy joint. He's questioning the sexy French maid... Census questions, of course. The maid goes to get permission from the head of the household. Blatant plot device. Census takers are THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY in these sorts of matters. Yes, it's federal overreach, but even Republicans would agree that it's justified when it comes to Census takers... they used to be, anyway. Hard to know where they stand on anything these days.

Anyway, I think it's time for a funny case of mistaken identity! Moe enters the same kitchen that Curly is in. Because Curly has his back turned and is wearing an official chef's hat, Moe doesn't know who he's talking to. Curly, of course, is all too willing to play the part of the working chef. "Well, you've caught me at a busy time," he tells Moe as he gets ready to grate some cheese into the punch... or maybe an onion or some garlic. It's the Stooges, folks. What do you expect? Cordon bleu?
Curly gives a jolly laugh at 4:01 in the proceedings. (Curly 4:01) I should probably point out that the seeds of a recurring joke get planted at this point. Place of birth? That famous comedy lake of note, Lake Winnipesaukee. Life saved again by Wikipedia! And look! A reference to the very film being reviewed! ...oh, What About Bob. That was something I didn't c to know...


Might as well call it an act break. And now... perhaps my favorite Stooge moment of ALL Stooge films is at this point... nah, there's still Dutiful but Dumb to get to, but this would have to be a close second. The sequence where Moe and Larry are but two couches apart, and another case of mistaken identity sets in, as he confuses Larry with a guy with a newspaper over his face. There's the Lake Winnipesaukee question, then the litter of three question and then... Moe's rage takes over. (Moe 4:56) If that film clip isn't in Heaven then I ain't going. That's all there is to it.

Okay, back to the humdrum. Moe gets hit over the head with a rather thick cane that mercifully breaks into two. Larry finally realizes what's going on and asks his soon-to-be trademark question, "Hey, what's the idea?" There's more: "I saw him first! Gimme my four cents!" Moe asks, "Will you take five?" And, of course, like an idiot blessed with a dominant short-term memory, Larry agrees to five. Why Curly and Larry don't wince at the mere mention of the numbers two and five, I have no idea. Apparently it's funny every time.
Cut to the snooty party, overseen by classy dame Symona Boniface. Some would call her the Margaret Dumont of the Stooges, but she can be as nasty as the boys any day of the week... damn! You can find just about anything on the web. And yet, they hang that Manning dude out to dry... Peyton Manning, I think it was. Personally, for me, Symona's finest Stooge moment comes in Half-Wits Holiday, but... hell with it. We'll get into that one soon enough. Moe gets interrupted while trying to break Larry's neck by Symona Boniface. The two newly minted Census takers get to work. Some hilarious number-play ensues, no doubt inspired by the likes of S.J. Perelman or Ben Hecht or George S. Kaufman, one of those jerks. Here's how it starts: Moe asks Symona "How old are you?" Larry asks "What address is this?" Get it? GET IT? I should at least point out that at one point Symona asks Moe, "Well, how do I look?" Moe says, "Oh, lady, you look like a million!" Larry says, "Ah, she can't be that old." The three of them wait for the laughter to subside. Let's see Margaret Dumont pull THAT one off! (On second thought, leave it on. This is a family blog! Drumroll, please...) Moe and Larry eventually get into a bidding war between 43 and 50 over Symona's age. Hmph! 29, my ass. She was 46 when she made this pic! Curly seals the deal with an auctioneer joke, gets hit in the face with one Census notebook. He turns around in anger, then shrugs his shoulders! What is it with him and shrugging his shoulders! He then proceeds to get hit in the back of the head with the other Census notebook. Back to the punch we go... the fruit punch. Curly mistakes alum for powdered sugar and dumps the whole box into the punch. That's right, folks... the alum gag isn't just for Looney Tunes cartoons. The punch is served en masse to the guests from forth the gilded monteith. Let the Alum Games begin!
We're not even on Part Two yet? Good Lourdes. Curly, like the low-class lout he is, tries to drink punch from the ladle. Moe whistles at him, and he stops. Now, here's a tip for all you screenwriters out there. Curly uses the ladleful of the toxic alum home brew and waters a flower that he is fortunately standing close to. We see the flower pucker up and close, to the stock sound effect of a squeaky door closing. Good screenwriting tip for all. The only other example that comes to mind is the skeleton in Clifford... someone has dipped my CPU in pancake batter again! There we go. In Clifford, there's a skeleton wearing a baseball cap in the dinosaur ride at the end. Sorry, forgot... SPOILER ALERT. Now, this may seem out of place, but it serves as a plot point later on. The skeleton ends up in the cart with Clifford and eventually ends up getting eaten by the giant animatronic T-Rex, so it serves as a proxy in lieu of Clifford himself getting eaten. Why, Charles Grodin even says at one point "Maybe I should just let the giant T-Rex eat you! Who KNOWS what sorts of horrors you'll unleash! 'I just made the bestest nuclear bomb in the whole wide world!'" Yes, like Clifford himself, I too am a very special boy. But back to the plot at hand. The flower, in this case, serves more as the canary in a coalmine rather than a proxy. It only foretells the comedy horrors about to be wreaked on the innocent job creators present at the snooty party... ah, what am I saying. Screw those one percenters. Of course, Moe and Larry are also seated at the bridge tables, so they're not free from the wreckage either. At one point, Moe tries to spit out his drink at stage right, then at stage left. For some reason, I seem to recall Jerry Lewis doing that move. Get on that, will you, Robert Osborne?
Eventually, Symona herself begins to see why her drink isn't going over as swimmingly amongst her table guests. Ellinor Vanderveer is seated next to Larry at another table. She appeared briefly in the Marx brothers' classic A Night at the Opera. What a mug!

And finally, we get to part two on YouTube. Symona has a funny moment exactly at 0:08; she appears to have forgotten her line! Let's see Dumont do THAT!


Okay, I think I've written quite enough about this little alum party. It seems to be the part of the film that gets stretched out so the film's 16 minutes long. Moe eventually puts two and two together, and realizes that Curly's the "start of all this." The party gets completely ruined, and we make a rather abrupt transition to the boys resuming their Census chores. In probably the best case of mistaken noise ever for a Stooge, we hear the sound of a roaring crowd. Moe of course turns to Larry and, even though he can see that Larry's mouth is clearly closed, asks "Why don't you quit yelling?" They hear, then see, stock footage of a crowd at a football game. Yup, that's right... a chance to make money taking the Census at a football game. And it's all for the taking, just for the Stooges. "There must be 100,000 people there! We'll make a fortune!" Time for Curly the Calculator to go to work, which also helps stretch the running time of the film. He has to pull the receipt tape out of his jacket pocket instead of his mouth this time. I just hope the Farrellys do the proper digital CGI homage to this, instead of just championing the cause of giving Jersey Shore's cleavage more exposure. To the football game we go.
The boys arrive at the stadium, and apparently they're not taking their own advice. Rather than try to take the Census of the crowd in attendance, they try to get the Census of the FOOTBALL PLAYERS PLAYING THE GAME. They even dress up as football players to get past the guards. Must be another good screenwriting tip. If they just go into the crowd... well, first of all, they'd have to pay a million extras to make the film! That ain't gonna happen, especially not at Cannery Row... I mean, Columbia. Well, they weren't owned by Sony and Coca Cola at the time. There'd probably be a very different run-in with the authorities if they went into the crowd, but never mind. It is what it is, and interviewing the football players we go. It proves to be difficult, to say the least, especially since THEY'RE PLAYING FOOTBALL! Did I mention that THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE THE CENSUS OF FOOTBALL PLAYERS WHILE A FOOTBALL GAME IS IN PROGRESS? Just thought I'd mention it.
Okay, I'll spare you the play by play, but here's how it ends up. At some point, the boys abandon their careers as Census takers, and instead sabotage the football game. Curly's running down the field with the ball, with Larry and Moe far behind, dragging an ice cream cart. Larry's pulling the cart, while Moe is chucking ice creams at the players and referees who are all chasing them. We see player after player after referee get hit in the face with a substance that's supposed to look like vanilla ice cream, but it looks more like shaving cream. Curly makes like Forrest Gump, and keeps running after crossing the goal line. He keeps running down the street, and the football players and referees chase them! A sad ending, indeed. But that seems to be how it happens with these Stooge films. For the most part, you can only hope to get a few four-star moments in a two-and-a-half star Stooge flick. Let's split the difference and call it 3.5, then. 'night!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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