Sunday, May 06, 2012
It's going to be a long war...................
Despite the intro, the Stooges have wives in this one. A dirty shame, indeed. You'll notice that their wives, girlfriends and fiancées stay the same age, while the Stooges get older and older and older... take Pardon My Backfire, for example! Meantime, I gotta stick with Back to the Future... I mean, Back from the Front.
We see how the backdrop of war wreaks havoc on otherwise lovely domestic situations. We see the Stooges' girls all knitting together on the couch. They think it's grandma knocking at the door. Hard to say if they're disappointed or not. I'd say slightly disappointed. The Stooges go in for a kiss and miss, of course. Moe and Larry kiss each other on the cheek, and Curly kisses the dog. Curly barks at the dog. The dog barks back! They bark again!! Make a note of that. I can't remember the last time I saw that in a Stooge film. A killer app, as we used to say.
And so, "Inky," "Blinky" and "Stinky" are off to work on a boat. What about Pokey and Clyde, you might ask? No time for that, it's time for the Stooges to do their victory dance. Larry kicks Moe in the ass, while Curly does giant suggestive pelvic thrusts. And you thought Elvis was bad! Moe kicks Larry back, and Larry falls face first onto his duffel bag. The boys run out, come back for their duffel bags, and Curly says "We forgot our duffels, bags!" We're getting a great preview of what marriage is gonna be like with Ike Turner over here. Larry forgot his hat, but continuity will take care of that.
Scene: the ship itself, where... yup, the boys are seasick. Not Curly, however. He's happily eating a... a raw liver sandwich? I think I'm going to throw up! 'Scuse me........ That's better. Moe runs behind the cabin, and reaches for the bucket. Later, he gets the mop. See, you kids don't realize it, but this alone was very VERY controversial in its day. For many decades vomit was a big no-no on the silver screen. Today, the opposite prevails, of course. If a movie made today doesn't have someone vomiting, the finest Hollywood script doctors are RUSHED IN! Back to Curly, who now taunts Larry with the raw liver sandwich... scuse me again. Larry runs off, then the camera dollies in a little closer on Curly, as if to signal what's coming. Curly stops, falters a bit, then leans over the side of the boat. Larry goes for an open window, and we hear Moe yell "HEY!!!" Hays is still spinning in his grave, I'm telling you.
Fade to next scene, where the boys are painting ... something. I gotta plead ignorance here, I don't know what the h.. what they're painting. They seem to be painting the wall in a room, if for no other reason than to hit each other with paintbrushes for a couple minutes. Not as blatant a time-stretcher as others, of course. There's always that extra special ingredient when paint's involved to really get the blood pressure boiling. We see Vernon Dent in a hammock, sleeping. We see a smaller dog barking. Curly's singing a song. Vernon wakes up, hears the dog barking, and yells "SHUT UP!!!!" Curly and the dog oblige. Then, the paint fight begins in earnest. Curly opens with a couple nice brush strokes on Moe, all while telling Larry "You know, I used to be a sign painter!" He's painting Moe better than the signs now! Moe's hair starts to turn white. Moe finally brings order to the chaos. Curly sticks out his tongue, only to get it painted. Moe kicks... rather, gently pushes Curly's stomach with his foot, and Curly falls back into Vernon Dent, who rather abruptly tumbles headlong out of his hammock, making that same "oof" sound at the end of 3:36. We get a handle on Vernon's accent... seems vaguely German somehow.... nah, that can't be it. Vernon orders Curly away, the schweinhound! Curly backs away doing that kick he does and yup... Moe lands face first onto the wall, getting a big cheekful of paint. For some reason, Curly never has sympathy for Moe, and is always striking back. Moe paints Curly, then Curly does the back-and-forth motion with his paintbrush and hits Moe TWICE! Moe is clearly losing this paintfight, and he knows it, so he ups his game, grabbing a whole bucket. You'll never guess where it ends up... yup. Vernon pulls the bucket off his head, making a rather giant sucking sound at 4:07. My God! Perot was right!
Nobody makes an angry face better than Vernon Dent. And when Vernon Dent's covered in white paint: priceless. The boys decide to take a walk, but a running walk. The cabin door shudders shut behind the Stooges, and Vernon seems to lock them out, if only for his own protection. Next scene: the boys are walking past the window where Curly's about to get several facefuls of water. Curly says "I can't hear a thing!" Moe asks why. Curly says "I ain't listenin'!" Gut-head combo from Moe. Now to the window. Wotta Day time. The first "Wotta day!" comes at 4:37. The second one happens at 4:48; this one is trickier because Larry's now in the frame and they can't cut to an edit to do it. Fortunately, the Stooges worked with the best prop guys and Curly gets another big faceful of water. As with the previous film, Curly tries to give Larry the Wotta Day treatment, but it doesn't work on Larry. Third W.D. at 5:03. Curly finally uses his head and puts on a raincoat and rain hat. The 4th WD hits at 5:17 but... it's not the same day. Damn you, Mother Nature! Always one step ahead. Ever the scientist, Curly removes his protective raingear, opens the window, sticks his tongue out at the ocean, and gets the 5th WD at 5:26.8... okay, four and a half. A paint-covered Moe thankfully intervenes before Curly gets pneumonia, and if you're anything like me... scary thought, I know... you can't help but think that maybe Moe should've gotten some of that water to wash some of that paint off. No time for that, though. Back to the plot of Back to the Front.
Next scene: Vernon Dent sneaks into a Comm room/bedroom, fiddles with some gadgets, and sends the signal to the German sub. We see sub footage smuggled in from a better movie. Cut to the Stooges, where Moe gives up. Cut back to a torpedo being loaded. Cut to a torpedo sailing under the water... with audio of a seltzer bottle to substitute for the sound of a torpedo sailing through the water! Well, Walter Murch wasn't in the biz yet. Cut back to a longer shot of the Stooges, and a torpedo erupting through the ship wall. Screenwriters and editors take note: THIS is how you tell a story! Sequences! Sequential sequences!
Now, here's where I part company with the plot. Curly confuses the torpedo for a whale. Moe doesn't get caught up in Curly's fervor, but he of all the Stooges should've known better, telling Curly "Stop talking to it! Let's kill it!" But unlike Falling Hare, this blockbuster bomb goes off, even when you don't hit it just right. Fade to white... a loud fade to white. Fade to the Stooges on a tiny raft being towed by that small dog from before, with a giant rope around its neck. Must be a very buoyant rope.
The Stooges, bearded and groggy, are floating in the ocean on their tiny, tiny raft. Having eaten nothing but beans since the ship inexplicably vaporized, Curly declares war on beans for the rest of his life. Moe says "I hear a bell," but it's not the sea playing tricks on him. There's a ship in the distance... let's go there now! Bad filmmaking, guys. We see Vernon Dent saluting Stanley Blystone. Dr. Blystone, I presume! I actually know him best as "Crook" from Slaphappy Sleuths. "So! You trailed me, eh?... OUCH!!!" Classic. This Nazi ship is stalled due to a faulty engine, giving the Stooges time to catch up to it and climb aboard. We see the boys climbing up the side on that.... you know, a rope grid thing... Curly's stuntdouble's got the dog on his back. The boys themselves are now on the ship's deck. They're ready for food and friendly faces, especially Curly. Moe wonders where everybody is and is just about to call, but Larry for once uses a bit of his brain! A disguised raider! Schickelgruber... a name forever conjoined to history and to Hitler. Time for some strategy. Larry says "Time to use the old bean!" Curly earps, reaffirming his new anti-bean stance. Never even SAY the word bean! Don't say nest or egg either, while you're at it. Moe slaps the hat off of Curly, Curly falls face down, gets back up, then Moe tells him "Shut up!" That's got to be the longest period between Moe hitting Curly and Moe telling Curly to shut up, like.... EVER! C'mon, you web sickos! Who's keeping track of that shi... stuff? The hitting continues. Moe says "If we're discovered, we're lost!" How low things have gotten when Curly has to correct Moe's grammer: "You're crazy! If we're discovered, we're found!" Now for a moment of cuteness: the boys crawl away. We see the dog, and the dog crawls along on its belly as well. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.... Well, as they say, dog see, dog do!
The boys need to get some uniforms to blend in... just like the ol' Castle Wolfenstein game! Why, I saw Wolfenstein 3D on the Yahoo! short list today. I didn't read it, but I hope it's not another video game-inspired killing spree... nah, it's being released as a free in-browser game. The former part will come later. Also, another "Saved by the Bell" star is all growed up now. I'm just hoping they haven't sunk to the lowest level like Screech. Back to Back from the Front, where the boys' first customer approaches. Moe hits the guy on his helmeted head. We hear the usual head-hitting sound, but the German helmet's too effective. The guy wonders what happened and takes his helmet off. Second shot from Moe on the guy's bald head does the trick, and we get the appropriate bone-crunching sound this time. Moe starts harvesting his uniform, while Larry and Curly ask "What about us?" Actually, Curly asks "What about us?" in a non-comical voice. Moe says "Go get some for yourself!" Well, just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there's a time to every purpose under Heaven: a time to share, and a time when it's every Stooge for himself. Larry says, Moe-style, "Oh! A hoarder, eh?" Curly unhelpfully replies, "Well, hoarders is hoarders!" A little something for us water-cooler-arounders.
It's hard to stay one second ahead. While Larry and Curly are reaching for their head-bonking sticks, here comes two more Kraut sailors! Down the ship steps they come, right over to the doorway where Larry and Curly are hiding. The first guy's helmet was still rolling around on deck, but no time for continuity errors in this picture. The game of arbitrage begins. Larry kicks one of the sailors in the butt and runs off. Let's call him Sailor #1. So Sailor #1's butt got kicked, while Sailor #2's butt is kick-free... for now. Damn! I'm sorry. SPOILER ALERT. Sailor #1 asks Sailor #2, "Did you kick me?" No, says Sailor #2. The arbitrage antes are upped. Larry AND Curly man a sailor's ass apiece, and kick! Both sailors are ass-kicked simultaneously. Both are steaming, and both turn. Sailor #2 says "So! Now you kick me!" and an epic fist-fight breaks out. A real game changer. They roll around on deck... now it's getting kinda gay. Thank God the Stooges emerge at the right time and hit the sailors on the head with their long phallic-shaped batons. As the cross-fade begins, they go in for a second floggin' of the sailors' noggins, but we don't get to enjoy the sound effects of that. On to the next scene, where all three of the three Stooges are now in sailors uniform. They emerge, almost one head at a time, from the same doorway, and head out into the world, much like Steven Seagal in Under Siege, to make the whole boat their bitch. First big test: Vernon Dent walking by. The three boys heil as he passes. They realize who he is, and Curly's the one who articulates to us, the audience, that Vernon didn't recognize the Stooges with the beards... even though it's suspicious that there are now three German sailors on his boat with the same haircuts as the other three knuckleheads what knocked him out of his hammock and covered him in white paint. There's a logical explanation for this, to be delivered later by the chief Nazi naval officer, tee hee hee.
Meanwhile, Curly's still hungry and wants to get a non-bean breakfast. Moe and Larry head off to the right, Curly gets something out of the doorway, and runs stomach first into the stomach of German officer Bud Jamison. Thank God all the "Germans" here speak broken English or the Stooges would be totally buggered for sure. Jamison orders Curly to clean the ship's gun. Jamison grabs Curly, kicks Curly in the ass, and Curly grabs his stomach in response. My, but that's a powerful hunger pang!
Scene: gun. Jamison hands Curly a giant swab. Curly salutes while holding the swab and.... you, yup guessed it, hits Bud with the swab. Bud storms off, giving Moe and Curly a chance to approach their fellow undercover Stooge. The gun looks shiny, kinda like the sequence in 1941 with the grounded plane and Tim Matheson dropping the bomb out of it. Moe promises to get Curly some breakfast, and Curly orders... I want to get this whole thing down for you, hang on... "Oh boy! Make it turkey and ham, and candied sweet potatoes on the side, and hot bothered biscuits and honey, and smother the whole thing in fried chicken... but NO BEANS!" Larry says "It's in the bag!" What a tool. Imagine Moe's reaction. Moe should've hit Larry for leading Curly on like that, but instead arranges an elaborate pre-strike Semaphore routine. Gotta keep it fresh.
Next scene: still at the gun, where Curly is toiling away on an empty stomach. Moe approaches with a shiny plate of grub... BEANS! He did that on purpose, but says "It's all these goose steppers have got." No bienestich? Thank God the war's over today and we can get back to the food. Larry shows up a few seconds later, still leading Curly on. Curly says "That's what I call a pal. Roast turkey! Stuffed breast, I love it... NYAAYAAAAAH! Beans! That's all I get is BEANS! BEANNnnnNNNS!" When Curly talks about beans here, he reminds me of Jay Leno... did he say stuffed breast? Hays must be spinning in his grave.
As if the beans weren't bad enough, here comes another Nazi officer! Moe orders Curly to ditch the beans. They could just throw the beans over the side, but that would make the film a drama. To make it a comedy, where do you put the beans? That's right! In the GUN! Why not, what the hell, you only go round once. In go the beans. Curly laughs as Moe shoves the beans into the gun. Bud Jamison reapproaches, demanding to know how the gun cleaning is going. "Did you clean the gun?" asks Bud. Curly replies "I wouldn't be surprised!" What a smart-ass. Bud goes to investigate, and finds the gun is filthy, and he orders the boys to swab it out. Bud phrases it to set up the joke: "When I ask for service, give it to me!" Time for the strangest looking face covered in beans ever. I guess they had to be delicately arranged, and fastened to Bud's skin with some sort of adhesive. "For this I hang you to the mast!" Vernon Dent approaches. Vernon says "Heil Hitler!" to the Stooges and they salute, but when Vernon walks away they say "Hang Hitler!" Doing their part. Vernon scolds Bud for having a face covered in beans. "Zo! Das is vot you do mit our ersatz beans!??!" Meanwhile, Curly pretends to swab the gun, but actually ends up hitting Moe in the face with the swab handle. Several times. Even grinds Moe's right eye with it! Moe strikes back. Vernon Dent ends up with his own faceful of beans. Vernon blames Bud for it. Makes sense, in a way. Even the Nazis had accountability, go figure.
Scene: the big guy's quarters. We got Stanley Blystone, chief Nazi, and we got Vernon and Bud. The Stooges' cute dog shows up. Vernon puts two and two together and realizes there are spies aboard the ship. If only it would come to him what they looked like... oh well. The general alarm is sounded, and the Stooges go into full-on panic mode. Larry and Curly run around the same pole and into each other. Vernon catches the Stooges and calls them out. "You American shvine!" Moe discovers a way to trap the Nazis. Now, to set the plan in motion. He pokes Vernon in the eyes at 3:46. I only mention it because Vernon's eyes make a different sproinging sound than the usual double beep! Weird! I think it comes up in A Bird in the Head, too, but it's no time for details. It's almost time for bed. In a stroke of genius, Vernon ends up springing the trap on himself and his officers when he swipes at a Stooge with his sword and cuts the rope. The rope net above takes its time to fall, as it gets hung up on some stuff up there. About twenty sailors get caught in the falling net. The Stooges start clubbing Nazi heads. Cross-fade to a giant cloth bag making low murmuring noises. Good thing that bag's filled with Nazis, because there's something kinda brutal about it, as the boys push the bag towards the edge of the ship. Reminds me of a bag full of jockeys on the Simpsons that one time... I believe it was the one with Duncan the Dennis Rodman-esque racing horse. Copyrighted, trademarked, etc. The bag is left alone on deck for now, as the Stooges get the vibe that there are still Nazi sailors left to decommission. A quick huddle, then off into position. Moe calls out to the sailors, Larry's on stick, and Curly uses the giant hook that all ships have. The first sailor emerges from the doorway. Curly pushes, and bam! Right in the sailor's face with the giant hook. Block and tackle, if I may. Larry makes a mark on the wall. Second sailor: goes about the same, except the block and tackle hits Curly right in his hungry stomach, poor fella. As if Curly weren't under enough stress, here comes a Nazi up behind Curly, but his protocol takes care of that. Curly winds up with the block and tackle, which hits the sailor behind him in the head. Two for one with one block and tackle! Meanwhile, Moe and Larry keep 'tackling' more sailors... get it? Never mind. To break up the impending monotony, Larry runs afoul of a tall, fat Kraut. A real Colonel Klink type, but a sailor. Larry buckles quickly under this guy's weight. Moe runs up, makes five chalk marks on the wall, and helps Larry with his flabby burden.
Next scene: a pile of bodies, but clothed, thank God. This is a family show here. No time for torture, though, as Moe explains: "We need one more to make the pile even!" Whatever you say, Moe. That part sounded dubbed in. Back to the Captain's chambers, where he's chewing out his men. For some reason, the Stooges can hear what these guys are saying. Where is the chambers in relation? Upper deck? OH MY GOD... the Stooges have developed super hearing! Anyway, to defeat the bad guys at the top, top level, they need a special strategy. Something to really end this film on a high note. A comic climax, if you will. Time to dust off Moe's Hitler impression. Zoom in on Larry's special briefcase that says "Minister of Propaganda: Specialist in Lies and Bunk." Goebbels was the Fox News of his day. After the boilerplate gibberish stops, Moe orders the failed officers to blow their brains out. Blystone answers "But, mein Fuhrer! Ve are Nazis! Ve have no brains!" No time to wait for the laugh. Moe orders "Then vot you got, blow out!" Now, even though it would be a fitting end to see all the Nazi upper brass blow their brains out, it doesn't happen for some reason. I guess that, again, we'd be venturing into the arena of drama. This is a comedy, so the comedy path is chosen. Moe counts to three but doesn't quite make it. He sneezes after two, knocking his Hitler moustache off. The real Nazis finally get it, and boy, are they pissed. The Stooges back out of the room, then run. The Nazis follow, but Curly slows them down a bit by hitting one of the Nazis with his giant, giant stomach. Blystone falls on the couch, and gets a vase knocked on his head.
Next scene: the Stooges are in the fresh air again on the upper deck. A plan is quickly hatched to get rid of those Nazis once and for all. They remove a section of railing, grab a conveniently placed can of "floor oil" and begin to dump the "floor oil" on the walkway outside the Captain's quarters. The plan is: the Nazis run out of the quarters, and slide on the oily walkway out into the sea. It works. The railing is replaced and the Stooges look triumphantly over the edge. They get splashed with water. Wotta day.
There's a little more celebration after that. As for why Curly doesn't say "Wotta day" one last time is beyond me. This isn't Seinfeld we're talking about, after all. The Stooges didn't have time to make something out of nothing every time. In grand Stooge style, Moe gets angry about getting splashed by Nazis with a mixture of sea water and "floor oil", so he grabs the section of railing that was removed earlier, and throws it on the Nazis. War ended.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan