Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 15, 1944 (six films remain)

Despite my lack of better judgment, I'm going to forego a review of 1945's feature length pic Rockin' In The Rockies, mostly because YouTube doesn't have it.  My To-Do List is too lengthy as it is.  So let's go to their next short, Idle Roomers.


Scene: the Hotel Snazzy-Plaza, where Mrs. Leander is checking in to her room.  The desk clerk is Eddie Laughton, a lifetime member of the Stooges Stock Company Players.  The Stooges are bellhops, and they're all asleep on the same bench together, in a very butch way.  Fortunately for Eddie, recent technological advancements in the hotel industry allow him to remotely wake the Stooges up, utilizing our friend called "electricity"!!  It's currently helping us win the war against Hitler and Mussolini... sorry, I forgot where I was for a second there.  Kinda like Owen Wilson in that 2011 Woody Allen movie!  Anyway, Ed pushes a button, and the Stooges fall on their butts.  They've slept through a bucket of water getting dumped on them, they can sleep through this, by God... except Moe, who wakes up and finds his legs at the bottom of a Stooge leg sandwich.  He tries lifting his legs twice!  I only mention it because it's rare to see Moe suffer in silence like this.  He hits Curly and Larry in the head.  FINALLY!  Some familiar Stooge behaviour.
The Stooges stand at attention, and they each say "FRONT!"  They then see the fetching Christina McIntyre and stand at attention some more.  Like Gordon Sumner once said, love is stronger than justice, so surely it's stronger than a mere bellhop job, as we're about to find out.  The boys follow Laughton's orders, but they're second to Moe's call for a coin flip.  As Colbert would say, the boys engage in a freaky coin flip three way.  Larry and Curly both gets tails.  Moe says "Heads," takes their coins, and rushes to McIntyre's side.  Larry and Curly do a double take.  They're not happy with this outcome, and Curly slams his hand down on the front desk.  He accidentally hits a wet sponge and sprays Laughton in the face.  Like a fool, Laughton licks an envelope.  Why waste the water on his face?  Isn't what that sponge is for?  Wetting envelopes so your tongue doesn't have to?  What was he thinking?
Anyway, Christine's in a Del Lord pic, so she's spared the indignity of physical comedy, unlike Laughton.  If it were Jules White, it'd be nothing but pies in the face for 16 minutes.  On to the next scene.  Next scene: the elevator, where Moe's escorting Christine to it, telling her that he's the head man of the hotel.  Meanwhile, Lawrence is in the elevator, and sneakily closes the elevator door before Moe can get in.  Furious, Moe furiously runs up to the 8th floor.  I forgot to mention: Christine's going to Room 810.  Crucial plot point.  Anyway, through the pure power of his fury, Moe gets to the eighth floor and stands next to the elevator doors BEFORE they open!  He's Superman with a sugar bowl haircut!  The elevator doors open and we hear Larry being all cocky and thinking he has a shot with Christine.  She must be used to this kind of attention from hotel bellhops.  Moe's a gentleman at heart, and he waits until Christine has passed to really stick it to Larry, specifically and especially Larry's head with some help from the elevator doors.  Larry says "Oh Captain, Oh Captain.."  Obviously a reference to another Columbia pic shooting that week.
Now you might be asking yourself, where's Curly while all this is going on?  Your prayers are about to be answered: Christine McIntyre enters her hotel room, sees a man covered with a newspaper on the couch and says "Oh, darling!  I didn't know you were here already!"  It gets better.  Christine goes to get her husband's slippers, while Moe offers to help.  It's such a swanky, full-service hotel, that Moe takes the guy's shoes off.  He eventually discovers that it's CURLY!!!!!
As "busteddolls91" rightly points out, Curly laughs at 2:48.  Curly has the courage to betray his ruse, but Moe is of course unappreciative, and proceeds to herniate Curly's leg.  Talk about the Passion of the Curly!  This is one of those parts that stretches out the length of the film, but it disguises itself well.  He then grabs Curly by the scruff of the top of his bald head... and it works this time!  Dude!  Moe's pissed off...
Let me just take this opportunity for yet another sidetracking non-sequitur, and marvel that the million dollar invention that the aforementioned "busteddolls91" has graciously shared with the world.  Let's see if I can partake of it here... Curly laughs at about 2:48... curses!  Not working.  You have to be on the page and click their link to jump right to 2:48.  Must be some privacy issues or something.

Okay, back to the movie.  Moe's about to throw Curly out of the hotel room.  For once Moe says "Here's a tip" and doesn't poke someone in the eyes.  Now, screenwriters take note of this next plot development: as Curly's going out, Vernon Dent's trying to go in.  There's a huge collision.  Curly starts to get mad but gets scared when he realizes it's Vernon Dent he's talking to.  No one talks to Vernon Dent like that!  No one.  It gets worse.  Moe confuses Vernon with Curly and gives 'em the ol' flower-water-through-the-transom bit.  Some wise stand-up comedian's got to use this to reevaluate the phrase "You only hurt the ones you love."  Moe then opens the door and tells who he thinks is Curly to "get outta here and stay outta here!"  Moe screams at 3:56.  Vernon lunges for him, but Moe dodges out of the way, and ends up crawling away on his hands and knees about as fast as is Stoogely possible without speeding up the film to 12fps!  Lol.
Next scene: Builder Moe is constructing the world's largest stack of suitcases... well, second largest.  His one mistake: getting Wreck-It Curly to carry the load.  Well, one of several.  For example, I don't know how long it took to construct that stack on Curly's back, but it gets un-constructed in record time!  Tis easier to destroy than to create, dear Brutus.  Moe ends up in a pile of suitcases with a "This End Up" sticker over his mouth, but at least he's not in the gutter.
Next scene: the 8th floor, where Curly arrives with the one trunk on his back.  Short term memory loss is a horrible thing, but Curly spins it into comedy gold.  Meanwhile, Lord knows what Larry's up to.  It looks like he's trying to barricade himself in a closet, but screenwriters take note: it's all for the setup of a gag, baby!  To make a comedy omelette, you gotta break a few eggs of plot inconsistency.  Curly's trek to room 810 gets a little bit longer because of the genius of Lawrence.  Now, the pickier among you will notice that Larry can't do anything right, and he gets the carpet stuck in the door as Curly begins the last longest part of his journey.  This gets rectified and the comedy treadmill gets going in full.  Curly's legs don't hold out, partly because of his twisted ankle, partly because they were an expensive prop and they wanted to get the most bang for their buck out of them, but mostly Curly's legs turn into cowboy legs because of the trunk's crushing heaviness.  They start to buckle at about... well, just click here and all will be revealed!  So cool.  Sounds like an elephant in heat.  Anyway, Curly finally makes it to the door and sets the trunk down on the last bit of the carpet.  There's a great reason for this, and it gets used.  McIntyre comes to the door and Curly says he has a trunk for her.  McIntyre looks around and sees no trunk.  As in cartoons, if something's not in the frame, it doesn't exist, so McIntyre goes to stand where the trunk once was, while Curly prepares to lift up the trunk.  McIntyre sticks out her arms to aid in the ruse.  Curly lifts up Christine and carries her across the threshold.. I mean, into the hotel room.  Christine lightly screams, and Curly finally realizes what's going on.  Dapper-looking Dent is in the hotel room and reacts as any married knife thrower would: he starts throwing knives.  The first one lands near Curly's face.  More concurrence, as Moe runs up and puts his ear next to the hotel room door.  Here comes the second knife, which pierces the door proper.  Whoopsy-daisy!  Now it's good 'n broke!  The knife ends up near Moe's face, and Moe lets out a Curly-esque scream at about 6:16.  Vernon's not finished yet, and he grabs a bunch of knives that look like ones they used to use in bullfighting.  Curly ends up running out of the hotel room with an ass-full of knives.  In empathy, Moe takes off after Curly, also nyaah-nyaahing.  Vertical-wipe to next Act.


Time to introduce a new character/twist.  In this case, the showbiz Delanders... Leanders... introduce a new wrinkle to the plot when they open the trunk.  Inside this trunk is one Lupe the Wolf Man.  When I first saw this despicable creature, was I the only one who thought of Claude in Fearless Frank?  I thought so.  Just checking.  Well, it made an impression on me, I must confess.  And I just did!  No, it's just the Duke of York, who made an earlier appearance throwing spears at the boys in Three Little Twirps.  Christine at first thinks that they'll get arrested for fraud.  Then she gets an eyeful of the beast and just flat out doesn't want anything to do with it.  Vernon tries to calm her down by saying that Lupe is harmless unless he hears music!  The opposite of Frankenstein.  Another confession: good line reading by Dent when he says "Then he goes insane!"  Oh, this is going to increase my hit count for sure.
The Stooges knock on the door.  They've got janitorial equipment and are dressed in white.  Let the comedy soiling of clothing begin!  Vernon closes up the trunk and steps out into the hall with Christine.  He's calmed down a little since.  Well, he doesn't have any knives on him, anyway.  He says to the Stooges "The apartment's a disgrace!"  I thought they were in a hotel.  Vernon issues the order, saying "It better be clean by the time we get back, or else!"  Curly angrily asks "Or else what?"  Moe, realizing the gravity of the situation, brings Curly back into line by using a hammer on his nose.  You know, pretending his nose is a nail that needs to be pried up.  The boys go into the "apartment."  Moe gives Curly some instructions, and specifically tells him "No dirt under the carpets!"  They must've gotten too many complaints: apparently, real janitors across the country started to emulate the Stooges in their own lines of work.
Anyway, Curly's left alone again, and he gets to work, but he's clearly not in the right frame of mind... especially when he sees that much hated trunk again.  He gives it a good knock for good measure and gets to work.  But then... we hear another knock!  Scientist Curly has to investigate with another knock.  Then, a light rap with three fingers.  I dare say they repeated the audio at about 7:50 or so.  One last test: Shave and a Haircut.  Curly laughs like a moron, then he hears the last two knocks and gets scared.
Moe emerges like a spectre from the other room.  Again with the hammer.  Moe seems to be following the following script a lot in this one.  Earlier he handed Curly a broom and said "Here.... GO ON, GET BUSY!!"  Terribly fed up with Curly.  The point is, normally this would be the scene where Curly tries demonstrating for Moe by hitting the trunk and waiting for it to hit back.  In this case, we've become Curly, but who's our Moe to appeal to?  To whom do we say "I swear!  I thought it was going to happen!"
Moe goes back into the other room, and Curly goes back to work.  The trunk opens.  Curly has his back to Lupe, and Lupe starts... hoh boy... Lupe starts trying to grab Curly's ass.  Parents might want to get young children out of the room at this point.  Curly starts singing, but Lupe doesn't go crazy!  He's about to, though.  The plot thickens.  Curly approaches a radio, and calls it a... well, better just see for yourself (Curly 0:16).  Curly turns on the radio and music starts playing.  Curly exits Stage Right.  Somehow, Curly misses all of what happens next, but we don't.  Lupe starts freaking out, then he bends the bars of the trunk, goes over to the radio and yanks it out of the wall.  Lupe throws the radio.  Curly bends over just as the radio goes sailing over his head.  The radio hits Moe and Moe hits the bed he's standing in front of.  The bed breaks.  So much for cleaning up the "disgrace."  Never send the Stooges to do a professional's job.
Moe handles the situation, though.  He doesn't accuse Curly directly, but merely asks him if he likes the radio.  Managers of employees, take note.  This is how you handle the delicate situations that invariably come up in your place of work.  You might not want to handle conflict resolution the way Moe does, however.  It's not quite as drastic as Aykroyd's final mortal blow in Grosse Pointe Blanke, but the result is similar, as Curly ends up with a radio on his head.  Moe goes back into the bedroom, and we find out where Lupe's been hiding.  Another homage to Stan Laurel's fall with a big stack of dishes in Our Wife, but once again the Stooges have no comedic deus ex machina at work in their film.  Back to Curly who's still struggling with the radio on his head.  He stops struggling and decides to fiddle with the radio knobs.  It's at this point he becomes... CURLO, the Beast from Mars.  Curlo has much to learn about our planet.  Equipped with only his sense of touch and incredible strength, he wanders out into this strange new land and stops just short of running into Lupe.  Thinking it's Moe, Curly... I mean, Curlo says "Hey!  Get this thing off my head!"  Apparently handling the situation like Moe would, Lupe gives Curly a good old-fashioned bonk on the head.  Curly falls down and his radio hat breaks.  It's at this point when Curlo becomes that lion in that Disney cartoon who thought he was a sheep.  The very fabric of the Stooge universe seems to be ripping apart to reform itself in the shape of a new paradigm.  Some of you can see what I'm getting at, but I'll make it explicit: did this not inform the work of Thomas Kuhn?
Lupe continues his new-found tradition of appearing to be a figment of Curly's fertile lack of imagination by climbing out the hotel window.  Curly says "You better get outta here!  It's a lucky thing you went through that winda..."  I spelled 'window' to reflect the New York accent.  It's from here that the Stooges use the word "window" more than they've ever had in their entire careers.  I'm surprised Larry didn't come in and say "Will you two stop saying 'window' so much?!!"  Curly finally realizes that what he's been talking to that just went out the window was actually here the whole time, standing right behind him.  Normally he'd "nyaah nyaah" and run away if not for the plot constraints.  Moe eventually says "I didn't go out any winda!"  Curly says "Well, SOMEBODY did!!"  Love the emphasis on the "did" (Curly 2:10).  The three of them collectively "nyaah nyaah" and push their way through the bedroom door as hard and as fast as possible.
Meanwhile, we follow Lupe and his ledge adventures.  This is the boring part that Irving Thalberg put into the movie to sell more tickets.  First up: a room with two chicks sharing a bed.  The first chick in a shiny robe wakes up, looks over and sees Lupe, and puts her fist in her mouth.  She runs off to the bathroom to hide.  Doesn't wake her friend up!  It's all for the comedy, folks.  As it turns out, this second chick's got much more work to do.  She eventually looks up, sees Lupe, and her hair stands up on end around 3:32 or so, even though it's in curls.  She throws a gewgaw at Lupe but hits the mirror instead.  Yup, you guessed it........................................................................


The Stooges emerge from the elevator, brandishing brooms.  For our edification, Moe tells the other two "The boss says there's a burglar in the building and we gotta find 'em!"  We hear a scream.  You gotta hand it to these Stooge films: they keep it short and sweet.  Larry runs back into the elevator, having gotten over his trauma from before.  Moe and Curly make the same gesture too late and smash into the closed elevator doors.  They "ricochet" backwards into the room where the scream came from.  They see the scared woman, but she's under bedsheets so naturally they assume it's the "burglar" and start beating the sh... out of the thing under the bedsheets with their brooms.  The lady screams and takes the bedsheets off.  Moe says "Sorry, lady, but we thought you were a burglar!"  Curly's a little more tongue-tied, mumbling "Yes, we are that, yes..."  The lady sees Lupe behind Curly and points, screaming "Wolf!  Wolf!! AAAAHHH..." and ducks back under the sheets.  Curly is indignant.  Moe says "I always said your face scares people.  Why don't you throw it away?"  In this age of Facebook, people are apparently doing just that, and not just Brazilians, either!
Moe FINALLY gets an eyeful of Lupe.  He makes scared noises like Curly and exits Stage Left.  Curly does an impression of him at about 4:19.  Soon after... the Max Linder/Duck Soup mirror bit begins.  Another part to stretch out the length of the pic to 16 minutes.  Curly eventually gets scared by his hairier, snagglier-toothed expression and runs off, finding Moe standing next to a door.  Moe asks "Did you lock the other door?"  Curly says "Yeah!  Twice!  Once this way, and once that way."  It's more of a visual joke...
Back to Larry, who's apparently manned up for his earlier act of cowardice, and comes creeping down the hall towards the other boys' door.  Lupe creeps up behind Larry.  Lupe touches Larry's hair, then puts his claw on top of Larry's head.  Larry quietly shrieks in fear and runs off.  Very next scene: Moe says "It's Larry!"  Curly responds "What are you waiting for?  Let 'im in!!"  They open the door and look away as Lupe enters the room.  Moe says to Curly, "Gimme a hand.  We'll barricade the door."  Lupe helps them do it.  Lol.  They eventually realize Lupe's in the room with them, but the plot forbids them from leaving the room just yet, so they back up into a corner.  Moe sees a trombone on the desk behind them, gives it to Curly and orders Curly to play it.  "Maybe music will tame him!"  Curly starts "playing the trombone."  We hear a full orchestra playing the song Curly played before in Dutiful but Dumb.  Lupe starts getting angry, but Curly keeps playing anyway.  Lupe grabs the trombone and throws it at Curly.  We see Curly wearing a trombone-shaped broach.  Moe runs off, Curly removes his mangled trombone yoke, and runs off too.  Curly shuts the door behind him, and Lupe throws a chair.
The action gets packed.  Moe and Curly open a door.  Larry's behind it.  All three get scared.  Larry says it again: "Open the door!  It's me!"  Curly goes "Oh no you don't!  We tried that before!"  Moe and Curly back up in front of a small dog.  The dog barks.  Moe and Curly get scared and leave the room, taking Larry with them as they enter the hallway.  They get to the elevator and eventually get in.  Lupe narrowly misses getting into the elevator with them.


I thought we'd never get to this part!  Lupe just missed catching the Stooges, but he's got an idea.  Above the elevator is an old-fashioned "analog" dial showing what floor the elevator is on.  It's pointing at about three.  Lupe grabs it and pushes it back to eight.  We hear the squeaking sounds of the wagon trap door in Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise.  The Stooges get out of the elevator, and Lupe gets in.  Moe says "Well, we made it!  We're in the lobby."  Lupe grunts, and the Stooges get back into the elevator.  Lupe starts running the elevator, as the boys find out too late.  They're scared, but have trouble sustaining it.  Larry starts clutching his chest, while Curly starts doing a Russian dance.  We see the analog elevator dial going from Basement to the top floor, then back again, in record time.  Cut to stock footage of an elevator in the shaft, then a loud crashing sound, then back to the elevator dial, spinning as though the Devil himself had spun it.  Did this not inspire Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to an extent?  It's an ending similar to the Stooges' earlier pic, Boobs in Arms, but at least they have company this time as they go flying through the air.
So!  What's my final analysis?  This is one of the greats.  I'm surprised I haven't seen it more often.  I should check to see if it's on one of my DVDs.  It'll be a while before I get the rest, anyway.  I think the best way to conclude this review is to pay homage to that AWFUL new Adele song, and close by saying Roomers has it, Roomers has it, Roomers has it, Roomers has it, Roomers has it.............................................

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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