Tuesday, May 15, 2012

They seem like rather BIG twerps to me!

With nose to the blogstone, it's time for the next Stooge short, Three Little Twerps.  Judging from the description, I can't recall offhand if they've done a circus picture before this one, but it won't be the last.


The boys are putting up a poster.  Moe says "This is one job we're going to do right!"  Self-aware Stooges?  It's a slippery slope, I tells ya.  Moe slugs the other two in the gut at the same time for saying "Right!" too much.  Makes perfect sense.  Larry stumbles away and gets a shot at the camera.  He finds a reason to clown around: the horses on the poster.  He asks one of them if they're hungry and hands it a carrot.  The horse responds!  The horse sucks the carrot through the poster!  MAGIC!  Hmm... that horse sounded familiar... why, it's Curly, emerging from behind the poster's wall!  With a carrot, of all things.  I never figured him for a health food nut.  Meanwhile, Moe gets a face full of Larry's brush.  For once in his professional life, Moe says "I beg your pardon!"  He might have before, maybe in Hoi Polloi, but I can't think of it.  Larry confuses Moe for someone else, and who wouldn't with his new chin-do.  Larry bellows "Beat it, grandpa!  We got no time for kibbutzers!"  Larry discovers the truth, and is rightly seeking forgiveness, but only makes matters worse for himself, and confuses the audience on top of it all, when he says "Sorry, Moe!  I didn't know your face was there!"  Moe strikes with two swipes of a wide white brush and says "I didn't know yours was there, either!"  A similar moment like that happens during the Shemp years, when the boys are in yet another warehouse full of boxes.  Larry clonks Moe on the head, runs around a stack of boxes and ends up on Moe's other side, and launches into "Moe!  I just beat up one of the bad guys!  Right where you're standing now!  He was standing right here, and..."  Moe hits Larry, Larry sinks to the ground, and Moe says "Now YOU'RE right there!"  I kinda prefer that one, but you can't have it all.  Back to Curly who's scrubbing away on the poster.  Time for Moe to get the business end of the handle of another tool.  Moe grabs onto the handle rather than suffer getting hit in the face many more times.  Curly realizes what's going on, gets scared, lets out a giant "NYAAA-AAAH!" then turns indignant immediately and says "Hey!  Why don't you get your own tools?"  Moe's very sinister in this one!  He quietly through gritted teeth says "I just wanna borrow it."  It is apparently some kind of hoe with the blade parallel to the handle instead of perpendicular.  Moe starts browbeating Curly about the face with it until he plum falls right through the poster.  Perfect chance for Larry to scold Moe, and for once Moe is practically speechless, saying that he'll fix it?  Where's the physical violence in return?  No time for that, as the plot thickens.  A car approaches... ooh, this is gonna be good.  It's the boss!  He sees the poster with the giant Curly-sized hole in it.  His eyes widen.  He slams the car door on his hand.  Some extra time for the Stooges!  The backup poster is put into place: the Wild Man of... Manx?  I couldn't see it.  The important thing is that it's a poster of a gorilla with a giant Curly-sized head.  The actual Curly head pokes its way through after getting a faceful of plaster paste.  The boss comes up and says "Nice work, boys.  That Wild Man looks uglier every time I look at him!"  Curly says "Hmmmm!!  I resemble that."  The boss says to Larry "What did you say?"  Take note of this moment, as usually it's the other way around.  Someone behind the Stooges is usually the one making the noise and it's Moe who usually says "What're you farting about?"  ...forgive me.  The Stooges were a class act, and they never used the word 'fart.'  Or 'belch' for that matter, probably.  The new Stooge movie that's currently dying a slow death in theaters, on the other hand, well... all that PG allows.  Larry has a stellar moment when he says "Oh, that's my asthma.. HMMM!!!"  Moe elbows him and says "Never mind your asthma.  How about our pay, boss?"  Dude!  The way Moe says it, seems like Moe's the boss!  The 'boss' boss informs the Stooges that the currency he uses is ... wait for it ... circus tickets!  Sheesh.  Moe and Curly each get one ticket.  Curly asks "Hey!  What about my ticket?"  The jig is up.  Moe and Larry take off running, as they seem to do in every one of these flicks, while Curly slowly backs out of the hole his head once occupied.  The boss gets closer, close enough within eye poking range.  Curly lets loose with two fingers and damn near actually pokes the guy in his eyes, and rips the guy's hair or hat just for good measure.  Emboldened, Curly comes around to the front of the poster, steps onto a plank, and lets fly the paste-filled bucket, which lets out a mighty TWANGGGGG noise at 2:54.  The likes of which we won't hear again until A Bird in the Head, and even that one's slightly different.  The bucket lands onto Curly's head, and he pulls it off with a mighty SHOOP sound.  Dude, that bucket musta hurt a little bit!  Just before the scene fades out, Curly looks up at the crew guy who dropped the bucket.  Painful.
Next scene: a circus from a better movie.  We get a long dolly shot of busy stands and crowds of people.  We get another shot of a big crowd, with the camera holding still this time.  Next shot: the Stooges erupt from the crowd, with Curly holding a balloon on a stick, not just a string.  Moe kinda looks like he's got lipstick on, but upon closer examination it's a cigar.  Larry doesn't have anything!  Typical.  To make matters worse, Moe plans on scalping the tickets they got.  Curly's balloon gets popped, he runs off, and ... LET THE SCALPING BEGIN!  A crowd gathers around as Moe starts his sales pitch.  Meanwhile, Curly ends up at a very, very high ticket booth.  A thick roll of tickets lands on his head.  A guy above him says "Oh, could you hand me that roll, please?"  Wiseguy.  Ever the bastion of dignity, Curly says nothing and hands the guy the roll.  The end of the roll, however, is still dangling down, and therefore up for grabs, and like the proverbial toilet roll, Curly walks away trailing tickets behind him.  He finally realizes what has happened, basks in his newfound glory, and begins HIS sales pitch in earnest: "Here y'are, folks!  Gitcha tickets right here..."  You'll see this later on in Crash goes the Hash.  Now, here's the econ lesson of the day: Moe and Larry's price is 75 cents.  Curly drops his to 50 and quickly steals Moe's and Larry's customers.  It's just simple math, folks.  Which is why Moe approaches Curly and uses that sinister deep voice again!  "I'll take 90 tickets, please."  Curly says "90 tickets!  Wow, that's quite a family... NYAAAAHHH..."  Moe takes charge and this fly-by-night marketplace finds a new equilibrium price.  The customers sit back and take it, of course, greedy bastards that they are.  And then, just like in GoodFellas when the cops close down young Henry's cigarette shop, the buzzkills swoop down: Officer Bud Jamison and the boss man from before.  Curly shoots the works on them, with Moe and Larry on chin detail, and another chase begins.  Moe and Larry run past, while Curly uses his pivot foot and enters a tent.  Boy, I wish he didn't do that..........


A good time as any for an act break: about 5:20 into the proceedings, usually.  Enter the Bearded Lady.  Curly gets very, very weirded out by her, but she develops a strong instant crush on Curly, her "bald-headed eagle."  Curly says "You remind me of a girl in Detroi-it... but you look more like her stepfather."  The Bearded Lady goes in for a hug.  Curly feels her beard on his face and lets out a loud "NYAA-AAAAH!" and takes off.  Curly tries to leave the tent, but sees the fuzz outside.  Rock and a hard place, folks.  The bearded lady goes in for a second attack, and the camera dollies backwards, emphasizing the horror of it all.  Curly takes matters into his own hands, along with a pair of scissors.  All this fooling around... and it's almost time for the Bearded Lady to take the stage.  The boss enters the tent saying "Effie!  Effie!  Where are you?"  I hate to spoil the surprise... but you can probably guess what it is.  Moving on...............

Next scene: Curly enters another tent-like room, and spies a giant chest in the middle of the room.  Moe's already hiding in it, however.  Curly slams the chest lid on Moe's head and takes off the other way, right into Larry.  Larry clutches his chest and gets pissed off at Curly.  Curly retaliates, grabbing a big tuft of Larry's hair.  That kinda came out of left field!  It's not some fuzzy plant, guys!  It's human hair!  It doesn't just grow back... anyway, no time for that.  The fuzz approacheth once againe.  Time for Larry and Curly to team up to hide... but how?  And where?  I hate to spoil another surprise, but they stumble upon a horse costume.  Curly takes charge: "I'll play the head and shoulders, and you play the other part."  Larry looks offended, and rightly so.  The boys emerge from the tent in the horse costume, knocking down the circus boss for good measure, who gets a big face full of sawdust.  The Larry and Curly horse venture out into the world, whinnying with glee.  They stumble upon two actual horses and walk up to them.  The horses back away as far as they can.  Some slight bonding occurs between the black horse and the Larry and Curly horse.  Well, you know what they say: horses of a feather flock together.... uh oh, the sleeping pill's starting to kick in, so I better call it a night.  Will I EVER get through this damn Stooge short?
...okay, back to work, and time to crank up the tension in the plot.  The arch bad guy, Stanley Blystone, is still asking around about the Stooges.  He's talking to this cross-eyed nerdy guy who has a giant meat cleaver.  He hasn't seen the Stooges but he does point out that there's no more lion meat.  "What do you think the horses are for?"  Mission accomplished.  The guy goes over to the Larry and Curly horse, saying "You look like lion food!  Come with me."  Never mind that killing a horse during business hours would probably be bad for business.  At least, I know I'd have trouble turning it into an exhibit, but the show must go on.  The nerdy guy gets a gun and aims it at the fake horse's head.  The horse kneels down.  The nerdy guy lifts the fake horse's head back up.  The horse slowly turns around to kick the guy, who obliges by turning around so he can get kicked in the ass.  DOWN GOES NERDY GUY!  He gets back up and starts to shoot the horse in the horse's ass... but that wouldn't be fair to Larry.  The horse turns around, the guy shoots, and there's a giant bomb-sized explosion.  The barrel of the gun has split into four, and the nerdy guy's face is black from soot.  Spoiler alert: the horse is fine!  Time for plan B, involving a giant novelty sword.  The nerdy guy stabs the horse, and the giant blade flirts with Larry's nose.  Exasperated, the nerdy guy says "Hey!  You're supposed to fall down!"  The nerdy guy goes for the head this time.  The horse's head comes off, and Larry and Curly writhe around on the ground.  Curly sticks his head out of his costume and gobbles like a turkey.  The nerdy guy faints.  Moe rejoins the group and quickly takes charge, helping Curly out of his costume by putting his shoe on Curly's face and pushing.  The bad guys come around the corner and another big chase ensues... actually, the boys stand their ground this time!


The bad guys close in.  Curly grabs two mallets of different shapes.  Curly carefully leans back and delicately hits Moe and Larry in their respective heads... or, at least, the space next to their heads (3:02).  Lol.  Curly, seeing what he has done, decides to knock himself out as well.  Usually this shtick happens at the end of the short, so this is a little off-putting.  Next scene: the boss' office, where justice is finally about to be done, and the Stooges are finally officially going to be taken away... but WAIT!  There's no volunteers for the Zulu spear throwing act!  Time for another One Last Chance, but the Stooges aren't told what it is.  They're excited nonetheless, the grown-up children that they are.  Larry says "Gee, thanks, boss!  You don't know what you're doing for us!"  The boss says "Oh, yes, I do!"  Gee, I hate it when Larry's the straight man.  Curly gives Officer Bud Jamison the ol' finger-snapping routine, hits his neck with his fingers, and gives him one last bark for good measure, yet still runs off like a coward while Bud reaches for his gun.
Next scene: more stock footage of a circus from a movie with a slightly bigger budget.  Then, we see the Stooges in strange circus costumes.  Larry points to a trapeze artist.  Finally, the big boss emerges in his fancy schmancy getup, and the boys finally realize what they're in for.  Enter the "untamed" Sultan of Abbadabba. (Duke York)  He's a snarling beast of a man, but he's still no match for the even more primal Curly, and he learns it fast.  The big boss starts whipping the Stooges into position.  Even the ropes conspire against the Stooges as they rise up and lower over them, fastening them into place.  We see the enthralled crowd... actually, they look kinda bored.  Back to the Sultan, who has a man with a pistol on each side of him.  The Sultan begins throwing spears at the scared Stooges.  Curly gets the first spear.  There's a drumroll that sounds vaguely like the one that Hanna and Barbera would use for the rest of their careers.  Curly's hat falls victim to the first spear, and Curly's on the verge of soiling himself.  Next volley: two spears.  The ringmaster looks disappointed that a Stooge hasn't been stabbed yet, so the ante is upped.  The Sultan throws eight spears BACKWARDS!  (5:59)  Curly's rope gets cut by one of the spears, so it's time to strike back.  With the Sultan's back turned, time for a spear in the ass.  Curly's spear merely bounces off the Sultan's glutes, but the Sultan jumps up and down in pain as if the spear stayed in place.  Shoestring budget on this one.  Curly gets in a good arf at the Sultan, and another chase is on.  The crowd stands up.  We follow Curly's "escape" as he heads for the ladder up to the tightrope.  The Sultan follows Curly, laughing as he also climbs the ladder.  Curly's in a tight spot on this tightrope!  Curly's having enough trouble staying on the rope as it is.  The Sultan starts shaking the rope, and Curly starts ... how to describe it... Curly starts spinning around the axis of the tightrope by his feet, starting at 7:17.  "Moe!  Larry!  Help me!  Help me!" he cries.  Larry points to what looks like a hand-held trampoline, and Moe and Larry grab it and head out to the space just under Curly.  To drive the point home, we see a second one with a hole in it.  Good directing, Harry Edwards!  Moe tells Curly to "let go", and Curly's feet abandon his shoes, which are still clinging to the tightrope.  Curly falls, sails through the "safety net", leaving a hole in the ground big enough for Moe and Larry to dive into after him.  The Sultan runs up and gets a big faceful of dust, or maybe it's steam, since the boys just may have ended up in Hell.  What an ending.


You know, there seem to be several Looney Tunes and MGM cartoons like this Stooge short....

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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