Wednesday, March 14, 2012

..with The Three Stooges as Themselves

As we continue this long march through the Stooge shorts, we're going to find that they started playing themselves... as in, celebrity entertainers caught up in one damn thing after another, especially that one with the "Niagara Falls" sketch. For now, it's time once again to head to the Casa del Estereotipo with What's The Matador?


The Stooges are eco-conscious comedians, recycling certain jokes over and over again. Three Jewish names and one Irish name on a door... does it ever fail to entertain? Notice it says "Latin American booking offices." Working backwards from the title again. The boys walk up to the door, Curly shifts his hat, and says in his normal voice "C'mon, fellas." The secretary looks familiar... ah, yes, it's Dorothy Appleby, just rotated in through that rapidly spinning revolving door to the Stooges' casting office. She plays the secretary of the booking agent(s) and tries her hardest to discourage the boys, but to no avail. They have a new act! A bullfighting act... Moe gets in a nice suggestive line of dialogue. Learn from the Stooges, kids. It's a lot like Hitchcock's lesson about the cinematic qualities of the suitcase bomb under the table. Get your audience involved. Sure, Moe could've just blurted out that Larry's the ass end of the bull, but there's three good reasons not to say that. One, it's a given; two, Moe's a gentleman when it comes to the ladies; and third, get the audience to use their imagination! Get them to imagine the word "bull's ass." Priceless. O'Brien comes out, and the boys spin him back and forth. Moe calls the act "mediocre," normally Curly's job. Didn't O'Brien just play Walter Twitchell? Man, what a comedown for him! Acting with the Stooges cuts some lives short, unnaturally prolongs others. Just then, O'Brien gets a very important phone call. God bless him, he makes the mistake of letting the Stooges within a mile of that phone call. Time to trot out that TIRED OLD CLICHé... (what's the Alt+4 digit code for a capital e with an accent aigu? Damn, but I need an assistant) ...where was I? Oh, yes, when someone has to say into the phone "No, not you." Mr. Fabulous did it in The Blues Brothers... that's the only example that comes to mind. Surely some a$$hole on the web has a list... never mind. I'm getting "Do Not Call" registry. And to think I want to get a job with the state! Why, I don't know the first THING about finding stuff online! Anyway, O'Brien's talking to this guy who wants a great act: "Money is no object, as long as it's cheap." The Stooges didn't hear the qualification part. O'Brien chases the boys out of the office. Stunt Double Curly crashes through the glass door at 1:52. Gotta watch that part at least twice. Their glass ceiling is yet to come.
Next scene: telegraph office. This is the part where they refer to themselves as "The Three Stooges"... in telegraph form, no less! Eddie Laughton looks on in horror as the Stooges conga out of the office. (Curly 2:22 - thank God they didn't have 3D!) Their ploy to get money wired to them apparently worked, and in the next scene we see the boys arriving somewhere in Mexico by bus. (According to Babelfish, the "station of trucks") It's at this point where the Stooges once again borrow from... take a plot cue from Laurel & Hardy, specifically Beau Hunks/Flying Deuces, but with a twist. Curly has found love on a bus by the name of Dolores. Dolores gets off the bus, hitting her mark perfectly in the process. Unlike Flying Deuces, Dolores makes it clear up front that she's married to a very jealous husband. The Stooges collectively understand and head off on their merry way. Then, the fatal error occurs, just in case you thought that that wrapped up a little too neatly. The Stooges end up between the moon and New y... between Dolores and the husband. Dolores sees the husband and sweetly calls out to him. Curly turns around, runs back to Dolores and says "Nyuk, nyuk, I knew you'd change your mind!" and they are clearly nyuk nyuks of love. Frankly, if the husband's going to so easily get pissed off, I say full steam ahead. Does Curly say "God damn it!" at 3:16? No one will ever convince me otherwise. The ultimatum is issued: if the husband ever sees these three caballeros again, he will KILL them!!! Curly rages at 3:30, after the dude's safely gone, of course. Curly eventually gets poked in the eye by Moe for what seems to you and me like a minor infraction. But as with Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown, even the Stooges like to have a fresh ruse for the eye poke. This time, Moe declares he will poke Curly in the eyes with "new fingers." Curly asks "Have you got new ones?" And then, more genius plotting: Dolores and husband have taken the Stooges' suitcase by accident! They JUST BARELY miss them getting into a cab and taking off. Moe says "How do you like that lowlife?" Justified to me in this case; on the other hand, it's just plain racist. For once, Curly uses a bit of his brain at the same time Larry tries to be the Moe. Larry finds the address on the suitcase and orders the boys to go to said address. Curly says "The husband will kill us!" Moe and Curly negotiate. Thank God they're standing next to that taco stand with wheels. Moe takes some chile powder and, while Curly's got his eyes closed and his tongue out, Moe coats Curly's tongue with chile powder. Curly is forced to DRINK THE WATER! It was probably just good ol' Hollywood swamp water, of course... damn, another racist observation my part. Larry reiterates the task at hand, and gets poked in the eyes by Moe. Curly parrots Larry, but uses the block. The block works, of course, but why bother? Moe ups his game and uses both pointer fingers... I forget if this is the first instance of that. Probably not. Again, Excel spreadsheet if I was real good. Well, it's about 4:50 into the proceedings, and there's a cross-fade, so I dare say it's time for our first Act break.


Scene: a Mexican mall. The boys try waking up a sleeping vendor... hoh boy, here we go. The dude speaks pretty good Spanish, and needles to say there's a culture gap... actually, he seems to ONLY speak Spanish, but his face screams the universal language of Stooge-induced frustration. We quickly move on to the next customer... hoh boy, here we go for real. The Mexican dude that will eat up most of the rest of the film: he's got 'hello' and 'goodbye' mixed up, for one... actually, that's about it. Fortunately for us, the Stooges already happened upon the courtyard of Dolores, so we can keep this delightful comedy of errors on track. Curly has an existential moment: "If her husband kills me, I'm coming back to haunt you!" Moe thinks of something to say, and comes up with "Haunt that house!" Curly: "How many rooms?" Moe: "SEVEN!" Curly: "With bath?" Priceless. Curly tries pulling the door open, but it's locked. Curly leans on the door and, like Michael Moore in Canada, finds it open, but with a sinister haunted house creak. Seeing as how this review's gone on long enough already... I'll skip to the part that haunts my brain cells, where the husband counts off the stooges like the Count on Sesame Street. (about 2:30)


Sorry, folks, but I gotta cut this short again. Probably just as well. As you would expect, the Stooges do their act, and the Stooge bull gets replaced by a real bull. But what excuse to make this exchange happen? That's the genius part, for that's where the jealous husband comes in! He bribes a couple of the stagehands and the exchange takes place. But the bull's no match for Curly when it comes to a head-to-head confrontation, just like in the cartoons. What does get Curly, though, is a low-hanging bar right at the end of the... sorry, SPOILER ALERT. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it, but What's the Matador didn't do much for me. See also: Bully for Bugs.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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