Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Three Stoogettes

That's what I get for procrastinating again. Well, I might not be able to give you the full blow-by-blow, but I'm just now figuring out that these Stooge shorts seem to be better if the stakes are higher, but you probably already knew that. So did they, as they wound up behind bars so many times. This one's special because it's a stretch for actor Richard Fiske. He disguises his voice until the very end, but his hair stays the same. Symona Boniface also seems to have more fun than usual here. I just don't know why we don't watch this one more often? Perhaps that will change.


Here's a plot twist for you! We focus on three DIFFERENT people who need to get married in a big hurry, otherwise they lose their fortune. Ah, the sanctity of marriage. Nothing's changed. This time, the Stooges are the collateral damage. The crafty lawyer of the three rich Jones sisters provides them with an alternative, as their current boyfriends have skipped out on them. They will instead marry the Stooges who are on Movie Death Row. Cut to the Stooges in jail via the newspaper picture, just like in Hudsucker Proxy, the only other movie I can think of off the top that does that. Not as common as you'd think! Normally, this would be the part of the film that gets stretched, but if it's half-ass enjoyable, the rule is suspended. Moe reminds the Stooges and the rest of us that they're indeed going to be hanged, despite their vigorous protestations. Curly is overcome, declaring he's too young and handsome. Unfortunately, there's a mirror in the cell, so he's forced to admit "Well, I'm too young!" He has a chuckle over it, and of course Moe hits him. Moe tells Curly to think, so Curly hits his head against the prison wall six times, then four more for good measure. "I got it!" says Curly. Moe and Larry ask what, and Curly says "A terrific headache." I only point it out this explicitly because I think it's the first time they use this gag... and of course, definitely not the last. The Stooges are conscientious to a fault in that way: always recycling a good joke, even if it means bodily harm. I had my eyes closed; puh-leeeeeeze. Larry has a good chuckle at 1:42.
Okay, I better move this along a little faster. Curly turns out to have a bunch of tools on his person, including three large wood saws. The boys get to work trying to use wood saws to cut through iron bars. Fortunately, the plot prevents the boys from escaping jail. They meet the three goils, get married right there in the jail cell, then are promptly left alone again. When you get right down to it, aren't all marriages like this? Moe and Curly share a rather intimate wedding kiss at 3:20 or so. I thought these were guy pictures! Moe doesn't even say "I'm poisoned!" for God's sake!!! Check out Larry flying backwards at 3:36. Oh, dude!

Act 1.5: the hanging proper. We find out the comedy name of the prison the Stooges are staying at, and there's a delightful comedy setpiece showing the audience of the hanging. As it happens, fate intervenes, but the boys go through with the hanging anyway. Unfortunately for us, the ropes break, and the Stooges end up in a pile under the gallows with another fellow in tow! A guy broadcasting the hanging to a radio audience goes up to the Stooges with his microphone... why do I get the feeling that Woody Allen's seen this part as well? Suddenly, a piece of paper is brought in that says the Stooges are free! The real gang has been caught... Michael Finn. The very idea. If Disney hadn't copyrighted Mickey Mouse, gangsters would be called that in these pics. I like the part at about 5:06 where Moe takes the microphone, acts scary, then promptly gets scared by Larry and breaks out into tears worse than Stan Laurel.


We see the three Jones sisters toasting their lawyers' success. At that precise moment, we hear "Shave and a Haircut" knocked out on the door. The girls do a triple spit take when they see the Stooges enter their posh house. The Stooges run towards the girls, the girls step out of the way, and the Stooges hit the fireplace mantle. They're invited by the girls for a kiss, but get punched instead. The lead Jones sister says "That's just to let you know who's going to be boss around here!" In a rare act of misogyny, the boys strike back, making the same declaration. The two threesomes go to their separate corners. The sisters decide that they'll get rid of the Stooges by forcing them to become gentlemen. Usually this happens on a bet by two Ivy-leaguers betting on heredity versus environment, so that's a twist.
And so, we come to a sequence to stretch out the time, but it has some good lines. Moe declares that he'll be a skinless frankfurter as he puts on some white face cream. Curly drinks some tasty perfume, declaring he'll smell good on the inside as well! Professor Moe reaffirms their commitment: they MUST act like gentlemen so the girls won't have an excuse for throwing them out. Say, this is serious! Usually they don't care when the two rich dudes try to win their stupid bet! Anyway, come to find out all this prep work with perfume and facial cream is just for going to bed. They fix their separate beds up so that they have a triple bunk bed. Curly takes the top bunk, of course. Curly makes an interesting noise at 8:21. The mistakes in editing and staging made here are not made later on in G.I. Wanna Home a mere five years later. Curly actually says "That's what you get for putting me on top!"
The old phone vs. alarm clock dilemma raises its ugly head again. Moe gets a phone call, informing him that the dancing instructor's here. Cue the riotous Hoi Polloi footage, culminating in a quadruple dive out the window of blatant stuntpersons into the fancy fountain. Do exactly as I do: Jerry Lewis used that routine in The Patsy, for what that's worth.


The lawyer gets called in again. A new strategy is hatched: the girls will throw a big party. When the Stooges humiliate them, they've got grounds for divorce! Boy, the rich really are different! The boys of course are off to a crackerjack start. They're only half dressed, and make a grand entrance in their suit coats and pajama bottoms. Time to start over. The lawyer gets the butler to help out his little scheme. Cut to the Stooges taking some food. Moe asks Larry if he's going to have that chicken alone. I only point it out because Moe will be asking Larry that question at least once more later on in a different short. Enter the wonderful Symona Boniface, who asks if the Stooges have traveled to the Great Wall of China. Curly says "No, but I know a big fence in Chicago!" Another great Curly line: his tapeworm took the blue ribbon at Madison Square Garden.
And now, the pastry-based fun begins. Moe gets hit with a giant cake by the butler, and Symona vouches for Moe, even though she gets hit second. Symona goes over, picks up a pie, and hits the butler with it! She hits him again with some of the cake she's still wearing. Vernon Dent plays a Senator here, and of course he's just asking for it when he says he knows he's going to get a "bang" out of this party. Symona starts cracking up. She steals the show in this one. Eddie "Another Lion" Laughton also has a good part in the pie fight. Larry gets hit with a pie while in a knight suit of armor at 6:48. Curly does his bit where he keeps winding up to throw his pie, but gets hit in the face with a different pie. He uses his own pie for the third pie, but there's a fourth yet to come. Sorry, SPOILER ALERT. An epic pie fight to be sure, and I hate to toss that word around like some sort of circular pastry. And they looked like real genuine pies, too! Not some shaving-cream-in-a-tin job.


The lawyer reemerges from a different part of the house to find that all hell's broken loose. He's so enraged that he slaps the Stooges, especially since they're all standing in a line together. Fiske uses the voice he usually uses in Stooge films here. He officially declares that the Stooges have disgraced their wives and will promptly seek a divorce. The wives, however, changed their minds about the lawyer and hit him with pies of their own. Well, as in Glengarry Glen Ross, you never open your mouth til you know what the shot is. The Stooges also hit the dude with a couple pies for good measure as the scene fades out. A good lesson for all filmmakers: don't skimp on the pie part of the budget.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

No comments: