Monday, April 02, 2012
A tiny bit D.O.A.
Man, but are there a lot of Stooge films I've never seen before! Joe Besser's infamous 16 aside, I still can't believe it! Take this week's film, for example, called Even as I.O.U. ........
We start as does Boobs in Arms, only this time the boys are peddling racing forms instead of greeting cards. Racing forms were a lot more common in films like this back in the day. Cars leased from the studio drive by the Stooges as they stand on the sidewalk. Unlike Boobs in Arms, Curly gets hit in the face instead of Larry, and in the long shot, not the close-up like Lawrence. The boys talk loudly to no one as cars go by in front of them, pedestrians behind them. Suddenly, Curly gets temporarily hypnotized by Moe's fast sales pitch, so much so that he offers to buy what Moe's selling. This, of course, merits a slap in the face, but with racing forms. ...good Lord! It's Saturday already and I'm only at 1:13 in the proceedings. What a Stooge. Professor Moe lays Curly in the road to get the flow of cars to stop. Smitten as the boys are by all this modern trick photography stuff, time for a little fun. I mean... not only does Curly NOT get a speeding car to stop, he ends up in a manhole... I mean, gender-neutral sewage maintenance entrance portal. Curly sticks his head up but quickly retracts it for car #2. Curly sends his hat up by itself to reconnoiter (1:17). Ultimately, it's no use. A speeding car gets stopped by the back of Curly's head. And unlike Ted Raimi in Darkman, Curly's got a stronger head, and in this game of 'Rock, Paper, Scissors, Car, Curly's head' Curly's head beats car. It's VERNON DENT!!! Ever the non-litigious gentlemen, the Stooges immediately go into hard sell mode with Vernon. This time, Vernon accepts. Lamentably, Curly sold Vernon a day-old racing form. This and AIG might give capitalism a bad name. Vernon starts calling for the police. Curly helpfully says "Hey, there's one over there!" It's BUD JAMISON! We skip the formalities between Vernon and Bud and go right into the chase. Whew! All this running around's got me winded. Time to take a break to pad out the time of this film. Cue the mannequin gag... hmm! Am I getting deja vu, or was there a similar scene in the far superior A Plumbing We Will Go? (2:30... ah! They're cracking down on YouTube because of the new Stooge movie, methinks...damn Farrellys.) Police officer Bud Jamison is fooled briefly by the Stooges' miming, but he quickly apprehends Curly once Curly lets down his guard. But he's got at least one trick up his sleeve... 2:43 - good Curly line reading! And the chase is on again, with Bud doing what he does best: screaming "Hey!! Come back here!!!" SPOILER ALERT: To Bud's credit, he damn near steals the movie when he's chasing the Stooges while dragging a store mannequin behind him. Next scene: a billboard that looks like a house, featuring a fully functional door. The boys hide, Bud Jamison runs by with mannequin in tow, and then we hear Curly get bonked in the head, but for once we don't see it! Surely, this is a Stooge moment that must be savored. I'm loathe to call it iconic for several reasons, but it still gives one pause. We eventually move behind the billboard with the Stooges, and notice a bunch of furniture spread out in the open, as though someone's been freshly dispossessed. Thank God that doesn't happen anymore! Moe quickly makes himself at home on the couch, and Larry pulls a Moe-style prank on Moe! The rivalry continues. Meanwhile, Curly eats up a good minute and a half arguing with a tuba, or "a bazooney." In the game of "rock paper tuba", tuba beats Curly every time. Curly's got a thing about gobbling like a turkey lately! If you got it, flaunt it. Warning: if you have young children watching this, you might want to skip 4:24, just on general principles.
Alas, it's not enough to watch the Stooges by themselves for 16 minutes a shot. They've always got to bring in one plot device or another. And here at the 5:03 minute mark, here they come: a young girl and an woman who looks to be in her late 20s, early 30s if I had to guess. You know, the kind of bride the Stooges are always marrying, no matter what age they themselves are. The lady has to tell the boys that they're using and destroying her furniture. The young girl asks (her mother) for milk. Curly, of course, has to procure some milk. Just to drive the point home, Moe puts a bucket on Curly's head, then punches the bucket in the face for good measure. Curly falls backward, and begins the process of destroying the rest of the woman's furniture. Curly's out cold, so they do the talking doll gag... personally, I think Emil Sitka did it better in Scrambled Brains. Next scene: Curly's alone in the world, looking for milk. He's standing next to a bottle of milk on a windowsill, but that'd be too easy, of course, and his hand gets lightly crushed, just to add insult to injury. But then... we spy a good comedy solution! Goats! And as there are three Stooges, there's three goats: a male adult, a female adult, and a young goat of indeterminate gender. At 6:45, Curly does some ad-libbing with the goats... I'm just assuming it wasn't in the script. Take that, Jim Breuer! Just to add a little Shakespearean pretensions to this scene, the male goat with two big horns charges at Curly. Curly, in response, charges right back, just like Popeye taking on the angry moose in Wild Elephinks at 3:08 (oh, they shouldn't have these on YouTube! After all the trouble they went to to booby trap the DVDs?). Back at the homestead, it's a situation similar to G.I. Wanna Home; makes sense, given the letters in this title. The cute little girl finally gets some milk. Me myself, I can personally attest to the fact that if you drink goat milk, you make goat noises. I can personally attest to this. It's just logic. The kind of logic Newt Gingrich uses. Next scene: Curly's a terrible cook. He loses a perfectly good fish, and replaces it with a wooden one. For those of you expecting the dog to make a tuba noise... sorry, that's a comedy dead end at this point. Don't worry, though; this'll turn into a shaggy dog story yet. Curly plops the steaming wooden fish on the table. Moe tries to cut it with what looks like a butter knife. Moe asks Larry "What kind of a fish did you say this was?" Larry says "saw." We'll leave that alone for now. Moe gets a saw and starts cutting the fish. Curly uses this opportunity to say "See?" as often as he can, knowing that Moe can't attack him with a REAL saw. Moe hands out portions of the 'fish.' The older woman gets the tail, of course. They all start chewing. We don't see the little girl any more for some reason! I guess she's spared the agony of eating pieces of wood. Curly finds a ring-shaped piece of wood, looks at it, seasons it, and keeps chewing. Moe tries to spit out his piece of wooden fish, but ever the gentlemen, and seeing that the older woman's watching, he waits. Cut to a wide shot of the table. We see everyone chewing. Curly drops the ring-shaped wood out of his mouth. The scene just fades out. On to Act Three.
Seeing as that domestic situation's going nowhere fast, we see the façade of what appears to be a soulless, soul-crushing government building. It looks like no horse track I've ever seen, but apparently it is, because that's where the boys end up in the next scene. Come to find out that Curly's smuggling the child's piggy bank! The very idea. But Curly's a persuasive guy, and he uses logic to convince the other two that going in to the race track and betting on a horse is a good idea. But how to avoid the large upfront cost entrance fee? Cue the ol' moldy "Press" gag. Feels like we've seen it five or six times already. The boys are in and examining the horses now. I guess it was the law back then, that the public should be able to see the horses before and after they race. Damn you, FDR! Next scene: we meet two crooks in sharp suits. Cue the interesting plot twist: the one guy's considering going back into Vaudeville with his ventriloquist act. Must be Jeff Dunham's great great great grandfather or something. As it turns out, he can use his power to make it seem like a horse is talking! Mr. Ed is born! Almost sounds like the same voice, too! The "horse" tells Curly to bet on him. Horses, goats, this film's loaded with animals. Curly's overcome with joy, finds the other two, tells them about the hot tip, runs off to place the bet, and doubles back again for good measure at 5:10. Look fast for this gag, you're bound to miss it... and it's probably best that you do. Next scene: the horse race proper. Cue the wacky horse names. Shortest race in Stooge history! Twenty-three seconds! Savor it if you can. What's-his-face is doing the play-by-play... let me look... Laughton! That's it. Eddie Laughton, not Charles. The Stooges' horse, Bearded Lady, wins, of course. Now, whenever and wherever there's big horse race winnings, there's vultures waiting to swoop down and steal them. I learned that from Dreamscape a long time ago. But this time, there's no deal to cut later on when Dennis Quaid's getting chased by higher-level bad guys. No, the two crooks in sharp suits mean to collect. Curly gets the money from the cashier, Moe gets the money from Curly, and the bad guys get the money from Moe. (But they do get a horse for their money! God bless FDR.) No point in questioning the jurisdiction of the crooks, it's all about the money money money, the Stooges gotta dance, so pay attention to the price tag. It's a financial booty call and our three fools must be parted from their money. One last chance for the older bad guy to do his ventriloquist act. Just when Curly's starting to think he's going insane, all three of the Stooges get to hear the horse say "Just for that, I'll never speak to you again." The three back away slowly.
The Stooges, having long since abandoned the lady and girl... and they're probably ultimately better off because of it; at least, they get to destroy their own furniture instead of the Stooges doing it for them....... where was I? Oh, right. The Stooges are now in the dog house, or the horse stable with the horse. The Stooges are busy sleeping, and the horse is awake, nudging Curly. The horse bites Curly in the ass, and they all wake up. Time for the horse's pill! The horse is named Sea Basket, by the way... I should've mentioned it earlier, of course, but frankly, I've spent too much attention on this one. The boys prepare to give the horse a pill. Curly says "You hold his mouth open and I'll blow this pill down his throat." ANOTHER gag from Scrambled Brains! What is it about those two, and all the same gags? Next scene: Moe and Larry are pacing back and forth in front of a veterinarian's door. How are they ever going to wrap this up in the next 45 seconds? With a baby horse, of course! Curly asks "I wonder if you can talk?" The horse apparently goes "da da da da" sounding vaguely like the time Elizabeth Taylor voiced Maggie Simpson. The Stooges are overcome with joy. I wish I could share in it... I really do........
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan