Monday, March 26, 2012

This week's Stooge film...

I don't think I've ever seen Three Smart Saps. And I've even got the DVD! They've got a theme DVD with Three Hams on Rye, Three Loan Wolves... you get the idea. Meanwhile, the ad campaign for the new Farrelly bros. movie begins in earnest. With a mere PG rating, no less. Hard to believe considering that most of the cast of Jersey Shore's in it.


Time for a setup with a twist. I probably shouldn't call it unusual. Usually the three are engaged to be married, usually to three babes WAY out of their league. Usually it gets called off... but this time's a little different. The girls (three sisters) call off their wedding because their father's in jail. Curly unhelpfully says "We know he's in jail! He's been the warden for years!" Apparently, the father got framed for a crime he didn't commit, and is now an inmate of said prison. Curly dries the girls' tears at 1:38. I should probably point out there was an hilarious doorbell gag at... ah, skip it. Meanwhile, Moe gets a bright idea: they'll save the girls' father if they have to go to prison to do it!... and they do, too. The second quest to go to jail begins.
We start with a street cop. They kick the cop in the ass... but it doesn't work! The old coot... I mean, old cop says "Our jail is for imPORtant PEOple!" I put emphasis on those two syllables just like the actor did. A delivery worthy of James C. Morton, but alas, not as good as if JCM himself were to do it. Larry's turn for an idea: they'll get arrested if they throw some rocks through a window. Curly gets mad at himself for not thinking of the idea and starts beating up on himself. Moe asks "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Curly says "I'm mad at myself!" Moe says "So am I!" and starts beating up on Curly... I know, I know, but in this case, the "I" also refers to Curly. If I were an English major, I'd know the tense, or the gerund... whatever. Curly says "Listen, you!" and it ad-libs from there until the next scene.
SPOILER ALERT. Next scene: some genius invented an unbreakable window. (Take that, M. Night!) This guy's never been in a Stooge film before: what a voice!... I guess he'll have to remain anonymous for now. Maybe he can do like Marty Martyn and invade the life of an Oklahoma boy from beyond the grave. Anyway, back to the window. The boys arrive to this comedy window with a lot of rocks. Time to stall for time a little as Moe quibbles about his marching orders. Right face. Only the Stooges can put a comic spin on such an ordinary phrase. The rocks are thrown. The rocks bounce off the unbreakable window. The rocks bounce off Moe's head. DOWN GOES MOE! Curly says "I get the..." and notices Moe on the ground. At 4:11, one of the strangest exchanges to take place between Stooges... okay, maybe not. But they do break that Stooge 4th wall sort of, right? Right? ...Anyway, Moe tells Curly to use his head. He does, but on the wrong side of the store. Incidentally, if you're wondering why an unbreakable window's being used on a simple grocery store, it's either a mob front or a Mossad front. Curly ends up in eggs and takes it like a man. He didn't use Joe Besser's line, anyway. When Besser ends up in eggs he says "Raw egg. I hate raw egg!" Much like Treat Williams in 1941, but I digress. Curly does the first half of a Durante impression, and the second half he does all the time, all with a strategically placed egg on the end of his schnozz.
Next scene: in front of a jail. The boys have trouble shush-ing at about 4:54. And now... time for a documentary-worthy moment, at least for me. The Stooges are at the back door of the jail, and the guard lets an inmate out, on condition he comes back later in the night. The genius part of course is that the Stooges raise their voices first, and the door opens. If you were like me, you thought someone was going to poke their head out and see what the noise was all about. Another convict is returning from a nightly sojourn. Moe's had enough; time for the Stooges to enter. They knock, but Moe gets punched in the face. Curly finds this terribly amusing, and laughs heartily at about 5:26. Curly tries himself, and also gets punched. To move the plot along, Curly leans against the door and falls inside. The jail looks more like a nightclub. Larry sees the pinball machine and exclaims "Look! A marble machine!" Anthropologists have gotten their Ph.D.'s on stuff less strange. Another time stretcher, but it's not too blatant in retrospect. As we find out later, it's the rudest sounding "marble machine" in movie history. The spell is broken, the mission is reasserted, and the boys get to work.


The search for the father in-law, Warden Stevens, played by veteran Stooge actor John Tyrrell, is very brief indeed. They find him right away and lay out the plot for the boys. Then, from inside his cell, Stevens hands the boys a camera and tells them to get some pictures of the shady dealings going on in the prison! This will set him free and he'll be reinstated as Warden. There's some Tom-Stoogery with the camera, but they're off, with Moe snapping a couple establishing shots of the hallway. The boys stumble onto the casino portion of the prison, where a doorman tells them they can't be admitted without formal attire. This sorta reminds me of the Jeff Altman movie Doin' Time... I guess that means I didn't really watch it. Anyway, the boys take this edict seriously, so Moe uses his bag of tricks to knock the guy out, taking care of his formal attire. Larry and Curly are on their own, but their search doesn't take that long thanks to Vernon Dent and his tailor.
Next scene: the boys are at work in the main room. Curly tries to pitch some woo with a lovely lass, but she's part Stooge herself and she barks at Curly. Curly retreats. Now maybe it's just me, but whenever the boys have to take some pictures, Curly uses his deep voice. See also: Crash Goes the Hash. As far as I know, those are the only two examples, but I was influenced by the Stooges at an unhealthy young age and it made some kind of impression on me. And so, we come to another time stretcher: Curly dancing with that same woman from before. As it happens, she's taller than him. Also the lesson from 2002's About a Boy: you can date a girl older than you and taller than you, but not both. Sorry, another digression. They've used that conga/rumba music before, haven't they?... I should know that one. I'll get to it eventually. Here's a pretty noteworthy part: at about 1:46, Moe avoids getting kicked in the ass by Curly a third time by turning his girl towards Curly's foot. Ever the gentleman, Curly avoids kicking Moe's girl in the ass. Not one to soon forget, Moe arranges for a kick in Curly's stomach. Dude, that's cold. Meanwhile, Larry's behind a curtain enjoying some "spirits." What a quaint individual. Back to the dance floor. There's some clothing-related shenanigans, and Moe's girl's dress gets torn off, revealing her silk slip. Even in this prison place of low moral fiber, it draws laughs. The girl asks, "Say, is there a draft?" Good phrasing, right? ...sorry, my bad. She indeed asks "Do you feel a draft?" Moe eventually says "No, I was exempted?" Bad phrasing. That's what's wrong with this Stooge short: the damn script!


We're about at the second/third act break, so I'm going to call it that. Larry's totally sloshed, falling-down drunk while still on his feet, and now he's going for the cigars. Curly is still all hot and bothered about the severed sleeve of his coat, and motions the drunk Larry to stitch it back together. Larry grabs a needle and thread... I'm going to let that sink in for a second. Let me repeat that: Curly motions to drunk Larry to reattach his torn sleeve to his coat. What could a drunk seamstress possibly do wrong? You guessed it. But happen it must, as we've got a ways to go to finish this picture. Curly loses his coat entirely after Larry stitches it to the curtain. The lady notices the coat is now missing, and wittily observes "Oh! A striptease, eh?" She's a keeper, I tells ya! Curly's pants start to rip, so back to the emergency tailor we go. Curly looks like he seriously dings his head with his chair at 5:06. Painful to watch. Moe returns with a camera full of damning pictures, and the boys make a hasty getaway, with Curly in polka-dot pajama bottoms. And finally! We get to some all-text! Sheesh.
Next scene: the boys are getting ready for the wedding again... what does Moe call Curly at 6:09? Thank God for the Hays Code, that's all I gotta say! Curly can't find a belt, so Moe unwittingly gives Curly a "chastity belt" of sorts; probably just what he needed, too. No offense. Curly gobbles like a turkey, hits the wall, and is off to be married.
Next scene: the fastest wedding ceremony in movie history. Well, really, we've been waiting about 15 minutes for it, so why not make it brief? Moe gets hit with rice offscreen at about 7:18. Must've been a real humdinger! Curly starts getting hit with shoes. He winds up to throw his shoe, but gets hit with a shoe instead. This happens all the time when he's getting ready to throw a pie. Anyway, for those of you expecting a payoff gag for Curly's chain belt, it wasn't meant to be. Man, did they not know how to end this one. Maybe that's what's good about it, I don't know... nah, still not good. The ending, anyway.

-So sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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