Sunday, October 21, 2012
G.I. wanna see "G.I. Wanna (Go) Home" again
We start in an unusual way: a close-up of Larry's uniformed chest. Not as trim as Train, probably, but more iconic over the long haul. Curly misses his line cue, but you can't blame him at this stage of his career. As you may have learned early on watching the Stooges, they can't do anything the easy way. Case in point: the simple act of hitching a ride. This is just after the war, mind you. The country was unified in victory, helping hands for everyone, morale as high as it's ever been. So here's the Stooges, three guys in uniform, trying to thumb a ride in a car. Do they get picked up? No! I guess the people knew better or something.
First attempt: they get their pants lightly splashed by a passing car. Serves them right for standing next to such an epic puddle. To make matters worse, Larry's the meat of a hit-in-the-head-by-duffel-bags sandwich. But he quickly recovers as the plot's laid out. The Stooges have recently married, and are now on their way to their new house. In Larry's excitement, he lays down a little whoop-ass of his own with his duffel bag. But where's his parade? Just this blog post, I suppose. A sobering thought. But wait! Time for their second attempt to hitch a ride. We see the car roll slowly through the mud, but it ends up making a bigger splash. Curly gets a muddied face. Well, all their mugs get muddified, really, but Moe gets the least of it. Curly must've been nearest to the guy throwing mud off camera.
Thank God for taxis! The Stooges finally get a lift, but Curly needs some hazing to get into the cab. Moe says "418 Meshuggenah Ave., down by the Winnegar-Woiks." I'm pretty sure that's gone by now. Or was that 024 Bingo Street? Anyway, Curly worked much harder than he had to, as this seemed to all be done in one take: Curly gets poked in the ass by a pin that that bastard Larry was holding, and he ends up completely out of the taxi in the street. He grabs his duffel bag and runs after the taxi. All in one take. In his condition, no less!
Next scene: the boys arrive at the place of their new abode, when... all their stuff's on the street! And their brides-to-be are sitting on the street, sobbing... no, not because they're getting married to the Stooges, but because they've been "dispossessed." "It's the new American custom!" says Tessie. Perhaps her greatest, most well-known line reading. Notice the Stooges still have the same mud on their face, only slightly not as much. Curly's face seems a little cleaner than before, but there's still enough of the mud left. But the main thing is: where are these six going to live? Fade to black, then fade in on a car going slowly down the street. We see why in a second or two. Curly is towing the car!! I'm assuming they have someone pushing behind the car to help, even though we can't see him. Curly takes a well-deserved lunch break.. well, starts to, anyhow. We don't get a cutaway of Moe and Larry getting out of the car, but out they get, and go over to scold Curly. Curly says to Moe, "Listen, you! If I'm going to work like a horse, I'm going to eat like one." He starts to take a bite of the sandwich, but stops, perhaps sensing that physical abuse is just round the corner. Moe says "Wait a minute... that's a pretty nice sandwich!" And then... Moe beats Curly with his own sandwich. Fortunately, Larry brings things to a halt, as he usually does, by noticing something well off-camera. He says "Look!" He's got other lines, don't worry.
Next scene: a sign saying "Apartment for Rent." They rush over, and Moe starts knocking on the door. In his fervor, he doesn't notice that he's knocking on the dude's head. You know how it is. Popeye rings Olive's nose instead of one of those fancy old-timey twist bells in the door. The guy gives a lackluster "Hey!" in response, but he gives a much more inspired "HEY!!!!" when Moe pokes him in the eyes. And he deserves it, too, the chiseler. Renting an apartment by the hour. The very idea.
And then... time for a rare montage of various "No vacancy"-esque signs. I think they recycled a few of them. Conscientious, but a bit tedious for the stimuli-hungry moviegoer. Next scene: the Stooges are up against Landlord Symona Boniface. She gets an all-too-brief role here as the Margaret Dumont-ish type, telling the low-class Stooges off. Ten times, no less! She saved herself a lot of grief this time.
Next scene: the offices of ... how to put this gently? Three Jews and one Irishman, real-estate brokers. The director dwells on this scene for a good long while. It was half the budget, for Pete's sake! The Stooges have to dwell on a second sign: a chalkboard saying, in so many words, there's no land available. 'Tis worse than the 2008 housing bubble, I tells ya. Larry provides some plot exposition: they sent the girls home to their mothers. Lucky for us, we get to concentrate on the delightful capering of the boys this way. Curly puts his foot down and says "I'm not budgin'!" Moe and Larry tag team him, and they end up carrying Curly away literally by his ears. Curly's mug comes toward the camera as he screams "AAAH! I'M BUDGIN'! I'M BUDGIN'!!!" Perfect chance for an act break, even though it's a tad too early. Fade to black.
Fade in: we see Moe and Larry sitting on the couch. Moe's smoking a pipe. There's a visual joke that I hate to spoil, so I'll try not to. Needless to say, it's a fine comment on façades, and that even the Stooges rely on them from time to time. There's a knock at the door to spoil their alternative lifestyle domesticity. There's a squabble over who will answer the door. Larry decides "We'll BOTH answer it!" This scene answers the question: if Moe hits Larry in the head in the forest, does it make a sound? Damn. Spoiled the joke. The camera awkwardly dollies back to show that it's turned into a Lars von Trier film, only not as long, and no words on the floor. Moe and Larry approach the door, hearing two sets of nine knocks. Surely the devil-worshippers out there find some significance in this?
Screenwriters: time to pay attention. Moe and Lawrence have an ugly encounter with a stranger at their door. Fuming from this, they're ready to take it out on the next schmo that tries some funny business like that. Unfortunately, it's the innocent Curly who receives their pent-up wrath. Moe hits Curly on the head with a shovel, and Larry breaks a bottle over Curly's head. Curly grabs his ankle in response. Lol. I know, I shouldn't laugh at that, but it's been a long day. Curly burns some valuable celluloid time monkeying with his oversize corn-cob pipe. The episode ends with Larry getting pissed off: "Hey! What's the idea of spilling dirty ashes on our nice clean floor?" Moe: "Sweep 'em up!" Curly exits Stage Left to oblige, but does he have to be happy about it, too? Time for another time-stretcher.
Party Planner Moe starts ordering Larry around: "You knit some doilies for the girlies!" Suddenly, Moe's train of thought is interrupted by the loud sound of Curly with a hand-powered lawn mower. He runs over the spot where the ashes were dumped a few times, saying "That's it. It's finished!" Moe says "Finished? It's worse than it was before! SWEEP UP that loose grass. That's an order!"
This gives Curly the perfect opening, and he salutes Moe, hitting him on the side of the head afterward. Moe's hair shakes from the smackdown. Moe realigns the Stooge-ic energy of the universe by kicking Curly in the ass as he walks away Stage Left with the lawnmower. Now, maybe it's me, but doesn't it sound like Larry getting kicked in the ass at 6:05?
Anyway, Party Planner Moe gets back to work telling Larry his big plan for the open space they're living in. He's interrupted AGAIN by Curly, but Curly's upped the technological stakes considerably. Now he's got a vacuum cleaner with a horn on it. Moe and Larry get a nice close-up of their double take. Curly's just vacuuming right away as happy as a kosher clam, when he does a double take of his own. Those two other chuckleheads are standing in his way! Time to activate the horn. They jump aside, as Curly's bitches often do.
Moe's too confused to strike back. Plus, he notices it's time for supper. Larry barks back "Yeah? Well, all we got is potatoes!" Moe orders Curly to peel some potatoes. Curly asks "How do you do dat?" Moe says "Just PEEL 'em!" Are you feel the game changing yet? Curly gets slapped, but he takes it like a man and gently, quietly tiptoes off Stage Left to peel some potatoes. Moe and Larry leave Stage Right. The vacuum cleaner stays, sucking away. We haven't gotten to it yet, but this seems an awful lot like the horn that lasts forever in the Stooges' notorious Pardon my Backfire.
Now, time for the subepisode that'll burn a few minutes and keep Moe and Larry occupied. Moe says "One of the neighbor's chicken's got a nest up there. There might be eggs in it. Go up and see." Think about that for a second. For you big city types who've never seen a farm, chickens don't usually lay eggs in nests in trees. Auracanas, maybe, because they're light; otherwise, not. But why should that spoil our fun? Meanwhile, back to Curly, who's preparing to shave some potatoes. Nice foley work at 7:13. Excuse me, but I have to run to the bathroom now...................... that's better. Okay, I'm back. The memory of An Ache in Every Stake lives on as Curly takes extra care to make sure the potatoes are completely inedible. Cut back to the vacuum cleaner at 7:32. Lol. Back to Curly who just takes it too far. Curly finally finishes up one potato, drops it in the pot, and says "Next!"
Not time for an Act Break just yet, even though it might seem like it. Finally we get back to Lawrence, and voilä! We see the chicken Moe spoke of earlier. Holy crap! Chickens really do have nests in trees! The chicken, having its nest disturbed by Larry, flies away and surely plummets to the ground. The ASPCA will hear about this! Larry, an avid indoorsman, has trouble climbing the tree, but has just enough strength to tilt the nest and drop an egg into Moe's hand. Time for another time stretcher. So, we're on Moe at 0:28. There's a skeeter buzzing around Moe's sleeping head. It takes him six seconds to use his egg-filled hand to try and kill said skeeter. It stops buzzing after Moe's got egg on his face; can't argue with resluts! Moe gets mad at Larry, telling him all too late to be careful with the g... the gosh darned eggs. Larry says "I can't get up any higher!" Moe says, "Well, tilt the nest and I'll catch the eggs!" Larry obliges, and Moe tries to catch the eggs. And "tries" is being too generous. Moe catches about five eggs with his face. He seems to have no hand-eye coordination at all! Good timing for it, anyhow. Moe says "It's a good thing there wasn't anymore!" and looks up again. Moe gets hit with another egg at 0:59. I bother to point this out because he apparently didn't have his eyes shut when this one hit. Also, the sound guy seems to be chuckling to himself. When we were younger, my close friend and I noticed this seemingly slight detail, and dwelled upon it for a long time back in the VHS era, damn near wearing the tape down almost as much as old tapes of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. God bless YouTube!
Moe also gets hit by another egg soon after the 0:59 egg. To cut to the chase, he then gets hit by a falling Larry after Larry steps on the wrong tree branch. Moe lifts Larry up by his hair and we hear a faint tearing sound. Cut back to the vacuum cleaner, growing larger with the passage of time. As we dwell on the vacuum, Moe chews out Larry good, much like he did in Crash goes the Hash while the parrot climbed into the Trojan turkey. The vacuum cleaner bag damn near gets translucent at about 1:22. Curly soon joins in on all the fun and, as in Miller's Crossing, Curly asks "What's all the rumpus?" Moe grabs the pan from Curly's hand, saying "I'll rumpus him (Larry) in a minute," but Moe ends up dumping water on his face. At least that'll help get the egg off! Moe deals out physical abuse until the vacuum cleaner finally explodes. We cut back to the vacuum which now has a bag that will explode on cue. It fills to bursting, then explodes. Cut back to the Stooges, who get hit with large amounts of cut grass. Moe says "I'm in PAIN! And I'm wet! AND I'M STILL HYSTERICAL!!!" No, wait, that's The Producers (1968). I don't know if Matthew Broderick got to say that or not. No, Moe says "Now you wrecked the vacuum cleaner! (Curly) And you ruined the dinner! (Larry) ... NOW WE'RE GONNA GO HUNGRY! (double slap to Curly and Larry) What's the MATTER with you guys?" Moe hits the highest note he's probably ever hit. Larry's able to calm everyone down, however, with a clever idea: "How about some roast chicken?" We hear clucking as a reminder. Time for Plan L; screw the neighbours. The Great Depression's not over just yet.
Larry runs back with a shotgun. An epic battle ensues between Larry and Moe over who will fire the victorious food-bringing shot. Curly damn near gets the full Whittington! And then... screenwriters take heed. The gun fires, giving us a new, unforeseen target. Misfired bullets in Stooge films often bring ducks; this time, it's a larger goose. Moe disrespectfully stretches the dead goose's wings in his excitement at about 2:27 or so. Cross-fade to next scene.
Next scene: Moe takes the goose out of the oven a little too quickly, and doesn't use any oven mitts. His hands sound like a house on fire. But Moe's quick on his feet, and he looks for the nearest, most stable flat surface he can place this hot goose on, and picks Larry's back. God, however, is clearly not on the Stooges' side this time, unlike Crash goes the Hash, as Larry stands up straight and the goose plummets to the ground. I guess it's because this is the Stooges' own dinner, and not dinner guests they're cooking for. The goose is quickly salvaged, however, as Moe brushes it off and places it on the table. Say, that goose isn't made of plastic, is it? Moe quickly gives Curly and Larry their dinner marching orders, and Moe says "I'll boil some spinach!" Now, I'm no chef myself. I can put a few things together, especially if the recipe calls for Costco rotisserie chicken, but this part especially gets under my skin, as Moe grabs tufts of mowed grass and plops them into his pan, grunting with pride as he goes. He grabs an especially big hunk of grass with the dirt still on, and plunk! Into the pan it goes. If they don't have this clip in Hell, then it's clearly not the Hell we read of in the Bible. And then... cut to the parrot who sets that old gag in motion again. Sure, it was only in Crash goes the Hash, if memory serves... and it doesn't, but just remember how hard the director and crew members had to work to get this scene right. Just call that parrot... the fourth Stooge. Maybe the fifth after Emil Sitka. Why, we even get some genuine audio at about 3:17! ...maybe not.
Cross-fade to dinner proper, where Moe dishes out boiling hot grass, calling it "spinach." He's a great salesman when he wants to be. Maybe they'll all turn into Popeye and beat the sh... tuffing out of each other. Meanwhile, Curly's busy sharpening the carving knife. You don't often see that! But this isn't a Marx brothers film, and the Stooges don't usually engage in joie de vivre when it comes to food... would that be joie de nouriture? And so, the ancient Pagan ritual begins in proper, when Curly pokes the main course with his two-tined fork, and a mighty "AWK!" rings out. Hungry Moe ratchets up the dramatic tension, telling Curly to go ahead and carve that goose!!! "I can't! Our goose ain't cooked!" says Curly. I guess S. J. Perelman was ghost writing for the Stooges or something. Moe immediately takes matters into his own hands and takes his own stab at the goose. And at about 3:47, we get a second mighty "AWK!" when Moe takes his turn. Actually, I think it's the same "AWK!" Get used to it now, folks, because you're going to hear it again when Shemp joins this ragtag team. Larry, busy enjoying his steamed lawn trimmings, gets up and takes charge, demanding the goose be carved. Moe says "I'm afraid to.. touch it!" Larry's the last to be converted, as he touches the goose, moving his hand in a tickling fashion, and so we hear a mighty laugh. Now they're all pee-their-pants scared.
Moe quickly, tepidly, takes charge again, saying "I know. We forgot to stuff it! (the goose)" Fortunately for time's sake, they've got a plate of crackers to stuff the goose with. Curly's put in charge of the stuffing. He holds a cracker up to the opening and the "parrot" grabs the cracker. Curly wasn't paying attention, so he doesn't know what happened. Plus, that whole stroke thing. Poor Curly. At 4:20 we see dubbing at work; on-screen Curly says "You know,..." but audio-booth Curly says "You know, Moe, something funny happened to me......" I just love that kinda stuff. Second cracker disappears. Curly n'yaah-yaahs in fear. After much ado about stuffing... not bad, huh? Anyway, Larry takes charge once again, giving the bird a light taste test, a smell test, and then... the cavity test doesn't pass, for lack of a better word. Thinking more crackers are coming, the parrot grabs a hold of Larry's giant proboscis with a vengeance. Moe takes the parrot away, and Larry nurses his nose back to health. This gives Curly a chance to take a couple bites out of the goose for good measure. Moe catches him red-handed... or mouthed, and bonks him on the head. Order is restored to this domestic scene, and Moe's about to serve dinner proper, when the rudest tractor driver in the world comes in and destroys everything.
Well, it's short, anyway. After narrowly escaping the tractor, the Stooges arrive with their brides at a genuine house. It's a bit small, but the six of them are apparently going to share the space. Cults have been built upon less. We get the full tour: one room contains the living room, dining room and kitchen, and the other room's the bedroom. There's a third room as well: the bathroom. The three brides quickly make their escape and go into the bathroom. Larry tells them their suitcases are in the bathtub. Something weird about that...
Well, it's been a long film, and the boys get ready to go to sleep. They've got two triple bunk beds, and... you'll never guess what happens! Much the same thing as in I Can Hardly Wait. Alas, Curly's song is a little more decrepit this time, post-stroke... and yet, I can't stop listening to it. Is there a moral to all this? Probably not, but if I had to come up with one, I'd say "Don't count your bruises until they are hatched." Something like that. Curly instantly breaks the bunk bed by taking the top bunk, emerges from the Stooge-filled rubble and says "Whaddaya know? I didn't get hoit!" Moe respectfully disagrees, saying "Oh, yes you did!" and repeatedly slugs him in the stomach until the final fade out. Well, it beats running off into the distance, as with all their Stooge cartoons featuring Curly Joe DeRita. At least, the few that I saw. Couldn't take too many of those, for some reason.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan