Tuesday, July 31, 2012

November 24th, 1944 (four films remain)

Hoh boy... here we go again.  Well, it was World War II, and no one fought the Japanese harder than the Three Stooges, a close second to the Allied troops.  Time for one called No Dough Boys.


We start with supermodels Moe, Lawrence and Curly at a photo shoot.  You can tell because they're posing, and because of a box that says "Commercial Photographer" on it.  Government regulations were much more crippling on photographers back then.  There's some high-jinks in between photos... it's all just too exhausting to relate.  Photographer John Tyrell has to intervene as the hitting stops and the shouting begins.  Tyrell gets a phone call, and the Stooges go over and watch.  Haven't they seen a phone before?  The boys make fun of Tyrell, and the dusty old phone gag is used once again.  "QUIET, YOU IDIOTS!... no sir, I don't mean you.  I mean, these other idiots!..."  Hopefully, I won't have to do much more thinking than that.
Then, the plot gets ugly.  Tyrell goes on break, and orders the Stooges to take a 15 minute lunch... phooey.  I gotta post everything on YouTube myself!  Apparently, the boys are portraying Japanese soldiers in this photo shoot, and Tyrell kindly asks them to leave their uniforms on.  What could go wrong?
Moe and Larry complain to themselves while Curly takes a lit cigarette out of his case.  Time for Moe to go to work.  Moe points to a sign, but to no avail.  Curly's been going to night school to get that law degree in case showbiz doesn't work out!  Moe resorts to removing the cigarette by force.  Curly resorts to his pre-lit cigar.  Moe resorts to force a second time.  Curly's got a third and fourth back-up plan.  I was going to say that this is the part that stretches out the film, but I'm starting to lose it.  I'd LOL but I'm in the computer lab and it'd be rude.  Then it just gets creepy, as we're all forced to observe about things today.  Personally, I think Stan Laurel did it better... but I don't remember where right now.  Let's see if the web remembers!  ...after about five minutes of looking, it seems to be Block-Heads.  Man, I'm exhausted!
Next scene: a WWII headline in the paper, being held by a café worker.  The café worker walks away, and the Stooges go to a table.  They're in their Japanese soldier outfits, and they start stuffing their mouths with bread... I see where they're going!  Clever!  See, they start talking with their mouths full of bread, and their grain-muffled speech makes them sound Japanese.  On top of being dressed like Japanese soldiers, the café worker springs into action, bashing them over the heads with a tray.  Larry gets the worst of it.  It's in his contract.  Curly and Moe chase the waiter into the kitchen.  Moe gets hit by the door.  Curly gets a faceful of mashed potatoes and ends up looking like... Santa Claus?  My P.C. detector isn't picking up any racial stereotypes on that one.  Curly throws the mashed potatoes back and hits the waiter.  The waiter wipes off his face and approaches Curly... dude, that dude's pissed.  Hmm!  Looks like Red Skelton.  Moe and Larry come to and join Curly in the kitchen, only to get punched in the face.  Curly saves the day with his stomach, bumping the waiter and sending him ass-first onto the hot stove.  This scares the Stooges and they flee through the back exit.  The guy cools his third-degree burnt ass in a big bucket of water, then he makes a phone call, remembering the threat to national security.  First things first.
Back to the Stooges in the alley.  The boys laugh and wonder what was "eating" that guy.  Moe realizes why.  Then, they laugh again.  Then they engage in possibly the weakest plot device ever used in any movie EVER.  But it's the Stooges, so we forgive them.  If this were an Andy Clyde short, it'd be the highlight.


The boys fall through a door into the next room... a hotel lobby, perhaps?  They must've been very VERY short on sets that week.  The boys pretend to search for the outlines of the door they just fell through, and go back about their business of creating mayhem wherever they go.  Enter Nazi in chief Vernon Dent from Stage Right.  Vernon says "Heil Hitler!" to the three Japanese soldier Stooges, and shows them the paper we saw earlier.  Upon closer inspection, we see the smaller headline about three Japanese soldiers escaping from said submarine.  Moe says... well, one of them says "Quick!  Let's act like Japs."  Now the fun begins.
Vernon introduces the Stooges to the ladies, one of which is the always fetching Christine McIntyre.  As a character named Celia Zweiback, she's well-bred indeed!
Vernon says "Care for some refreshments?"  Ah, the elements that make up a Stooge film.  Most of them are in place here.  The three of them running over to a table full of food is perhaps the most common staple.  The two bipartite groups do some whispering.  We learn that Vernon is wise to what's going on: he's only half a dummy in this one.  All are waiting for the real Japanese soldiers to show up.  I'm betting they're the same guys from The Yoke's on Me.
Ever the instigator, McIntyre ups the ante by asking Curly "Remember Berlin and your acrobatic act?"  We get a nice big close-up of Curly's makeup.  They've gone all out on the makeup on this one!  That's what I get for watching this on YouTube.  Then the girls ask for a demonstration of jiujitsu.  The boys demure at first, but then launch into it.  Larry throws one of the girls across the room, and she lands ass-first into a comfy chair.  Larry's accent sounds more like a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impression than Japanese, but why quibble about details?  Moe throws the tall chick towards a sofa with a sewing kit and prominently placed extra-large extra-sharp knitting needles on it.  This short's just chock-a-block full of subcontracted Stooges!
Now, seeing as how this is a Jules White short, McIntyre has to engage in some messy slapstick.  Curly tries to demonstrate some jiujitsu on her, but she's a bit more prepared than the other two.  She spins a Curly dummy around several times and throws it.  Kewl!  Just in time for the Olympics!  Curly ends up with his head in the wall.  As it turns out, Curly's super-strong saw-destroying head has made it outside, and there's a bird pecking at his head.  The audio doesn't seem to match what Curly's saying.  Moe and Larry go over to help.  The bird flies away.  Curly tries the ol' back-and-forth on Moe, but Moe ignores it this time!!  He points Stage Left, and Curly obliges.  Vernon comes back into the fold, asking "What is los here?"  Christine brings up the acrobatic act thing again, and Vernon wants to see it.  Larry the supplicant tries to say that they're out of practice.  "Forget routine!"  Vernon answers "Japanese never forget.  DO THE ROUTINE!"  Christine tells Curly to do the "foot-to-foot" routine, but Curly says he'd rather dance cheek to cheek, then does some dancing, topped off with a big vulgar hip thrust.  You might want to skip that part for the sake of the younger children in the audience.  Moe calls another conference.  "Yaki, Waki... come back-i."  I don't get it.  Moe tells the other two that they have to do something to stall the Nazis, and... why don't they just do the acrobatic act they were doing LAST NIGHT?  Damn you, time stretchers!!!!
The lame-ass "acrobatics" begin.  They throw napkins, and link arms and legs twice.  Larry tries a somersault but doesn't quite land it.  Curly goes into his chicken-with-no-head dance, and all three end up walking backwards on the floor... this has to be the saddest thing I've ever seen.  Their second act takes a slightly more confrontational tone.  At one point, Moe kicks Curly in the stomach, hopefully not too hard.  Curly hits Moe with his stomach in retaliation.  The kerchief throwing begins again.  Curly takes a cue from Harpo Marx and throws the kerchief to the floor, only to have it bounce back.  So that's where the budget went!  All involved dwell on this surprising moment for a few seconds, then Curly blows his nose, making a horn noise, and delighting all.
There's more!  Curly breaks Larry's arms, and a Larry stunt double enters the fray to do an actual flip.  A Curly stunt double does a flip, and ends up sitting on Moe's (stunt double's) face.  You might want to skip that part as well for the sake of the younger children in the audience.


Might as well start Act Three here.  Completely under their own spell now, the Stooges think they're acrobats, and Moe starts pitching the big final number.  If it doesn't go right, several of them might die!  Curly and Moe fight over who's the top man.  Slowly they turn to Larry.  It's official.  Curly and Moe start.  The stunt doubles do the hard part first, but then we get a shot of Moe actually standing on Curly's shoulders!  Some credit is due for that one.  Then, Larry tries to complete the triple-deckering of the Stooges and brings the whole house of cards quickly down.  Cut to the "Nazis" who wince with disappointment.  They try a finale that's a little more modest, and they make a simple stack of Stooges on all fours instead.  They end up screwing that one up as well, but the Nazis fake being impressed.  Then, the phone rings, and Vernon exits.  At this point, rather than chatting up the babes, Moe heads for the refreshment table, where Curly puts his mouth on the seltzer bottle nozzle.  Such lack of manners.  Moe and Curly enjoy a brief awkward silence as Curly thinks what to do next. Ah!  He's got it!  He does the hand back and forth routine... and THIS time it works.  Moe looks up and leaves himself vulnerable to a spray from the seltzer bottle... they wouldn't be washing their makeup off, would they?  And when is it Larry's turn?
Next scene: Vernon is with the three actual Japanese soldiers.  After filming, they were promptly returned to the internment camp they came from, of course.  Anyway, the jig is up, and Vernon orders the three Japanese soldiers to grab the Stooges.  A mighty struggle ensues.  The big cake on the table will not go to waste, fortunately for us, and it ends up in Vernon's face.  Larry and Curly handle the three Japanese soldiers with two seltzer bottles.  Whew.  Typing "the three Japanese soldiers" over and over is a mouthful.  If only there were a shorter phrase I could use...
... and then, Curly cuts the lights.  That's actually a pretty smart technique, strategy-wise and film-making wise, but Cannery Row never cuts corners, and they film fresh black background for every film, no matter how low down on the totem pole it is.  The lights are out for about five seconds until Moe turns them on again.  The lights come on instantly, and one of the actual Japanese is hanging from the ceiling fan.  Larry's duking it out with Vernon Dent, and Curly has to fight the other two Japanese.  Moe turns off the lights this time.  The lights go out for about eleven seconds this time.  There's more scuffling, a gunshot or two, and then we hear Larry getting hit over and over.  Curly turns on the lights this time, and we see Moe slamming Larry against the hard floor over and over again.  Moe chastises Larry for being "in my hands" and the lights go out for a third time.  We hear Curly triumphantly saying "Hey!  Turn on the lights!  I got TWO of 'em!  I'm bashing their heads."  Gee, I wonder who Curly's got.  This time, one of the Japanese soldiers turns on the lights... as you would expect, of course.  Moe's tongue is hanging out.  The Japanese soldier who turned on the lights turns them back off again.  The lights come back on, and we see Curly filling a Japanese soldier's mouth with seltzer.  Seltzer's coming out of the Japanese soldier's ears.  It's too good for him, I tells ya!  Too good.  Vernon runs over and kicks Curly in the ass.  Moe's stunt double leaps up in the air and throttles Vernon.  Larry turns off the lights for the twentieth and final time... the lights come back on and we see Moe and Curly ripping Vernon's clothes off.  Good Lord.  This one's not for children of any age.  We see that Vernon's wearing swastika-laden underwear.  Vernon gets hit in the stomach, and over the head with a globe that's not filled with flour.  That would be too painful!


Moe points to Vernon's underwear... near the chest area... and says "Is zat not a swastika?"  Larry and Curly say "Ya, zat is a swastika!"  Moe asks "Is zat not a dirty rat?"  Larry and Curly say "Ya, zat IS a dirty rat!"  So THAT'S where that's from!  I guess the moral of the story is, sometimes you gotta stay undercover.  You know, like Bruce Willis at the beginning of Mercury Rising... am I the only one?  I thought so.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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