Monday, July 23, 2012

September 22, 1944 (five films remain)

Sometimes, the story behind the Stooge short is more interesting... okay, probably more often than not.  While we wait for VH1 to get around to Gents Without Cents, there's always Wikipedia, which informs us that this was based on a cameo that was cut from a film called Good Luck, Mr. Yates.  The cameo was trimmed from that film, and a new short was grafted onto it, to make the Frankenstein monster that is our next Stooge short...


New opening music!  The opening credit title card informs us that it also stars "Lindsay," "LaVerne" and "Betty."  If only the historical record kept track of their last names... Apparently, these three had a Hollywood suicide pact or something.  Only one survived to enjoy the fruits of the tontine.
On to the short.  The boys are in their usual ratty apartment, but this time they're rehearsing the big "Niagara Falls" sketch.  It gets interrupted by a racket from upstairs.  Plaster dust falls from the ceiling, and a fixture hits Curly on his poor ol' bald head.  It takes 'em a while to get going, but the Stooges make their way upstairs to kill those guys making all that racquet.
Next scene: outside the upstairs apartment.  Loud jazz music can be heard coming from inside.  The Stooges drive home the point a little bit more, and then they just barge right in to that apartment to kill those guys making all the noise and ruining the Stooges' ceiling.  Clever camerawork helps to conceal the mystery, but the truth comes out: those "guys" are actually three dancing girls working on their risqué new jazzy Reveille dance number.  Hubba hubba!  Who likes short shorts?
One of the girls does a forward flip, then all three do forward flips, landing just in front of the Stooges.  The spell is broken, and they start to meet the Stooges.  As you can see, this is not your typical Stooge short.  Usually when they're showbiz types in a short, they're usually unsuccessful, and quickly on the run from the cops.  This is more of a meet and greet.  The girls are named Flo, Mary and Shirley, and a quick courtship inexplicably begins.  Time is stretched as the Stooges groom themselves, asymptotically approaching their handsome ideals.  Moe starts to explain about the act they're working on.  Can an Emmet Otter's Jug Band-esque fusion of their two acts be far behind?  Or is it more like a Reese's peanut butter show?
The Stooges demonstrate their act.  When they get to the "inch by inch" line, Curly rudely falls into the girls' tub full of water.  So it shouldn't be a total loss, Curly starts taking a bath.  Moe and Larry find a nugget of wisdom in this, and join Curly in the tub.  The girls apparently continue to look on in horror from the safety of the next room.


Time is stretched out until just shy of the Act Two point.  Next scene: the office of Manny Weeks, Theatrical Agent.  We jump right into the opening act: the Stooges sing a song, probably titled "We Just Dropped In To Say Hello."  Marc Shaiman accompanies on piano.  Flo, Mary and Shirley are also in attendance.  The number finishes with Moe and Larry putting their hands over Curly's mouth.  Manny is unimpressed.  Moe promises that the next number will be better.  I, for one, disagree, political incorrectness aside.  Curly's part is probably the most offensive, but it is a rousing WWII number, even though the war was about half over by then.  The important thing is that Manny's impressed.  Moe says "Now comes the climax."  Curly begs for mercy at about 6:54, LMFAO.  Curly falls over and says "I faw dawn!!" in a manner that sounds a bit post-stroke, alas.  The boys start fighting.  Moe gives yet another "See that?" but he has to help his fist along for the full 360.  Another LMFAO.  Apparently Manny Weeks was staring at the three girls the whole time, because he looks over and tells the Stooges to break it up.
Unfortunately, fate intervenes and the Stooges get their big break, worming their way into Weeks' big "Shipyard" act.  The six of them leave in a conga line making train noises.  This is the kind of old school showmanship that hopefully had people rolling their eyes even back then.  Curly makes that weird wolf whistle noise at about 8:15, then has to subtract the price of one glass door from his meager pay.  I think it's time for me to hit the hay.

Act 2.5 - I'm back!  The show begins.  We get another hilarious placard... two souls and a heel.  Priceless!  Then, the acting begins proper.  If Moe Howard was to somehow ever get an honorary Oscar, surely it would be for his on-stage performance here.  I can see why Cannery Row wouldn't wanna just throw the footage away.  Way to screw it up, Lawrence!!
And you thought Curly couldn't get it right!  Then, the girls dance, with and without various jump ropes.  We'll just skip over that part.


The boys do another hilarious foxhole sketch.  I dare not ruin it for you.  The show's a success, and Manny Weeks invites the boys to his New York office.  THEY'RE GOING TO BROADWAY!  They try to ditch Flo, Mary and Shirley, but they clobber 'em on the heads before they get the chance.  After they say so long, and before they can get away.  It's just damn near inbreeding, marrying such like minds to each other.


By way of California, the sextet is driving to New York.  They get to do the Niagara Falls bit one more time.  Someone dipped the audio track in pancake batter at this point.  I still can't decide if this one's better than average or not.  Even though Stooge shorts like this one helped us win WWII, it still kinda sucks.  I guess I refuse to believe the Stooges will grow up someday.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Bad double bill with: Good Luck, Mr. Yates.
Good double bill with: What's Up, Doc?

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