Saturday, December 17, 2011

Triple Indumbnity

This begs the deep, philosophical question: can one make a double pun out of "Double Indemnity"? Or are we restricted to just one pun at a time, like "Triple Indemnity" or just "Double Indumbnity"? And should I have put hyphens around the dumb or quotation marks in order to highlight it? Or in ALL-CAPS? Sorry about yelling, but these are the kinds of detalis that separate the men from the boys... I'm sorry, I forgot. In this day and age, men don't worry about details, especially when it comes to effeminate pursuits like correct spelling and grammar. Anyway, the deadline looms, so it's time to look at the next Stooge film, From Nurse to Worse. Long story short: still not my favourite.


As with the far superior, post-stroke Curly masterpiece, A Bird in the Head, the boys press the start button and find themselves as paper hangers. They don't know who they're working for, but they soon find out: their friend Jerry. Their friendship with Jerry will be put to the ultimate friendship test. Will their friendship sour when Jerry's profession becomes an issue, and he sells the boys on some insurance? You might recognize Jerry, as he's typically played the heavy in the last couple Stooge films. Here he plays the worst kind of heavy: a friend that tries to use his friends as clients. In this case, it's for some sort of insanity insurance. Apparently someone could get paid $500 a month if they're declared insane by a doctor, but enough about Congress. (tee hee hee!) Curly confuses "banana" with "bonanza". Moe looks like he wants to hit Curly, but for some reason decides not to. Is Moe getting soft in his upper middle age? Could be. Anyway, all the boys have to do is fork over $50 to Jerry, and the gateway to the con is opened.
Now comes the part that stretches the film out to 16 minutes. Curly has a dollar, but it's hidden in a ... sorry, SPOILER ALERT. It's hidden in a purse around his neck. Moe starts to undress Curly to get at the dollar, but Curly thankfully takes over. He's wearing several vests, and it's quite funny when he removes them. So much so, in fact, that he'll do it later on in another film... the one where they invented a flycatcher, and Christine McIntyre mistakes him for a contest winner... ah, skip it. One Stooge film at a time, please. Dang! Curly's arms are kinda buff! When did he have time to work out? Everything but the gut, apparently. The purse is opened, and moths on strings fly out. The dollar's been pretty worked over by the moths, but I guess it'll still do. This was the Depression, after all.
Now it's Larry's turn to fork over some money. The dialogue that Moe and Larry have is probably based on a popular song of the time. Someone else look into that, will ya? Now, I'm no expert, but it seems to me that, after all the time they spent getting one dollar out of Curly, it sure would be funny if it turned out that Larry had fifty dollars on him that were easier to get to. They go the "comedy hair" route instead, as Moe ends up tearing out some of Larry's hair, trying to get money to fall out of it. If I recall correctly, this is the first time they've done that: torn out tufts of Larry's hair. To be honest, I haven't been paying close enough attention so far.
Jerry returns with the insurance paperwork, and the real fun begins. In the Stooge-ocracy, it's decided that Curly will be the one to play insane. He refuses at first. There's a Catch 22 there someplace...


We end up at the offices of a "Colossal Insurance Examiner." Gee, I wonder if he's got a good comedy name? He's played by Vernon Dent, so we're of course in for a treat. We start in the waiting room of the doctor's office. Curly's pretending to be a dog, but he falls for an elegant, stand-offish lady who's waiting in the waiting area. She appears to be visibly repulsed by Curly. Good casting for the part! Curly goes so far as to dance with the comely lass, when Moe brings him back to the task at hand. The doctor appears and asks "Well, which one is the crazy one?" I told you! Good ol' Vernon never lets you down. Oops! Dinner time... gotta run.

6:04pm - Back! Okay, so the boys head into the examination room. Following specific directions in the script, Larry gives Curly a kick in the ass for good measure. The exam begins. The doc says "Now, let me see... the heart." Curly helpfully says "Two spades!" Now I'm no Freud, but sharp comic timing would seem to imply non-craziness, but never mind. Interesting audio note for you audiophiles out there: Curly sounds like he's underwater at one point! (Curly 5:44) It's the straw that breaks the doc's back and he immediately decides he has to operate on Curly. Damn doctors!! So, needless to say, the plan that Jerry outlined doesn't happen as they thought. The doctor tells Curly that he's going to have to operate on Curly's brain. Curly regains his sanity and the boys flee the office. We hear some vintage Curly noises as they flee. Vernon Dent ends up doing some of his own stunt work out on the street. Whatever they were paying him, it wasn't enough. In another bit of miscasting, the guy who turns and looks, who USUALLY plays a bad guy, shows up here as a cop! Dr. Dent (D. Lerious), now resolute in his determination to crack open Curly's skull, follows the Stooges with a scary fervor. Fortunately, the Stooges make a clean getaway in a strange van. Unfortunately for us, they wind up in a dog catcher's van. To aid in their getaway, the dog catcher and his assistant put a fresh load of dogs into the van WITHOUT LOOKING IN THE VAN AND SEEING THE STOOGES.
And now, for another sequence that stretches out the running time of the film. The three Stooges meet their intellectual match, facing off two dogs in the back of the truck. The boys, catching the dog's fleas, obviously lose. Meanwhile, the dog catchers are listening to the tune they played two Stooge films ago, in Nutty but Nice, but it's cut short by an announcer that sounds an awful lot like Moe! Announcer Moe makes an announcement about the three lunatics on the run from the law AND from their brain surgery appointment. The dog catchers listen in absolute, abject horror. Who wouldn't, frankly?
And so, we come to a fitting end for Act Two. The dog catchers' truck drives into what looks like a garage, but is actually a dog fumigation building. They park the truck inside it, leaving the dogs inside the truck, and proceed to fill the fumigation building with some sort of parasite-killing gas... Wouldn't it be more effective to open the truck in order to more efficiently "gas" the dogs? You might be asking yourself a question like that, but once again, you're not thinking in terms of movies. You're just supposed to think to yourself, holy dog crap! Curly and the boys better get the hell out of that truck! Meanwhile, the Stooges and the dogs have formed some sort of human-dog centipede, each scratching the others' backs in a line. For all you film buffs out there, there's a film that Stooge veteran Jules White directed with just dogs... that must've come in handy for this film. Oh, I don't even know if Jules White directed this one. Someone else look up all that junk for me, okay? Robert Osborne, get on it.


The boys break out of the truck, and proceed to run around it like idiots. Curly stops and says "This is the longest room ever! C'mon!" They eventually break out, just narrowly missing the dog catchers' nets. They thwart a second attempt by the dog catchers to get them in a taxi. MAGIC! They're unable to outsmart the doctor, Dr. Lerious, however, who rather conveniently happens by in a car of his own. The way he whisks the boys back to the hospital ought to get him banned from his profession for life... then again, it is the Stooges. I should also probably point out that even the simple act of thumbing a ride can set Moe off into one of his trademark rages... but not this time. The plot sprints ahead.
Back at the doctor's office, it looks like the doc's plan to "cerebrally decapitate" Curly is about to come to fruition... but not before Curly manages a little more comic mayhem of his own! He manages to tastefully rip off a nurse's dress, who just as tastefully grabs it back from him. Never content to let a sitting joke lie flat, Moe and Larry resurrect the "MY FRIEND CHARLIE WHO WALKS LIKE THIS" gag. Only in a Stooge film could that work. I sure hope the Farrellys do their rude, tasteless take on it, for all our sakes. The boys are off and running, with the cop on their tail. Time for another Third Act recurring gag. Moe and Larry and the cop keep running into this effete stunt man trying to carry a nice delicate tray of tea and biscuits somewhere. No wonder health care costs are so high. Larry says "No cop can ever catch us!" We'll leave that alone for now. The Stooges worked on shoestring budgets, so they maximized one set of plates and dishes by running into the guy twice with the same first set of broken dishes. The second time this happens, the cop, of all people, says "Oh, what's the use?" You'd think the guy carrying the damn dishes would say that, but he's got dignity and sticks to his guns. Oh, and the boys and the cop get distracted by cute babies, and attempt to fool him by dressing up as a doctor and patient. Meanwhile, back to Curly, who's being dragged to surgery un-anesthetized. In a positively Kafka-esque moment, he manages to slip out of the room, unnoticed. He runs down the hall to another door, goes through it, and... yup! Finds himself back in the room with everyone staring at him as if to say, God, what a jerk! He gives a "N'yaah-aah-aah!" and, accepting his fate just as quickly, shrugs his shoulders and gets back onto the operating table. Moe and Larry enter the room dressed as doctors' assistants. A dude approaches Curly with an ether-soaked rag, and Curly freaks out yet again. A big struggle breaks out, and it turns into a football-field pile-up. And then, more magic happens. I know I wouldn't be able to pull off something like this myself, but they manage to do a li'l ol' swait-and-bitch... I mean, bait-and-switch with Curly and Dr. Lerious... or is it the ol' switcheroo? I tells you, it made me think of Mission: Impossible for some reason. (Opening either this weekend or the next... just Tom Cruise's little way of telling Spielberg to further go f... himself) The boys escape once again. Oh, I should probably point out that one of the other doctors screams "IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?... Oh, I'm a doctor!" Great stuff. See also that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he goes up against the hairy orange monster for another smart "doctor in the house" joke.

Now, even the Stooges liked to reach for plot grandeur every once in a while. And so, as the end of the film approaches, the boys run their way into the "Morgue" room. Enter the bug-eyed Dudley Dickerson and some other white dude that appears in a lot of these damn Stooge films. The boys pile onto a table in a completely butch manner and cover themselves up with a giant sheet. Enter the two. Dudley Dickerson ends up bugging out his eyes and jumping out the window. Something the Lord Made this is not. Time for more running. And we come to the resolution of the smashed dishes recurring joke... much like the beleaguered glass door replacer of Men in Black... the Stooge film, not the Barry Sonnenfeld blockbuster series.
The boys themselves get tired of all this running around that crazy hospital, so they make their final getaway on a special gurney with a sail. Cut to the footage from a previous Stooge short, but with a special added on ending. They run into Jerry from the beginning of the pic, and manage to knock him into an open vat of either plaster, white paint, or oatmeal... whichever looks better on film. A couple Stooge shorts end this way, but we'll get to those soon enough.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

No comments: