Saturday, November 03, 2012

December 5th, 1946 (two films remain)

Donnie Darko, anyone?  Oh no.  Nostalgia's confined to 1988, I'm afraid!  But the Tears for Fears song was from 1985!  It's an improper 1988, my friends!  You're being lied to.  Guns 'n Roses!  INXS!  Debbie Gibson!  Terrence Trent D'Arby Roast Beef Sandwich!  But I digress.  You can digress further here at this website.  God bless the web, and may it always be free and open.  Reminds me: time for the next Stooge film, Three Little Pirates.  Something tells me I'm not going to like this one very much..................................


Setting: Deadman's Island, the year of someone's Lord 1672, where we find King Vernon Dent being given some surely troubling news.  Two guards with metal knight hats and Pilgrim outfits waddle in with a piece of wreckage from a ship that crashed into the island.  Fortunately for the plot, it's got some words on it, saying it's a garbage scow from N.Y.C.  What else can be said?  NYC's been #1 in garbage for hundreds of years.  It gets worse... there were three survivors.  The guards bring them in.  Would you believe it?  It's the Stooges!!!  To stretch the time a little bit, Moe gets into a manliness contest with the guard, and loses.  Badly.  Man, I'm getting shallow!  Moe makes an interesting noise at 1:13.
It's apparently supposed to be the year 1672, but the Stooges are dressed in modern sailor outfits.  Vernon Dent remarks on this anachronistic inconsistency, saying "I never saw seafaring men dressed like that.  I don't believe they're sailors!"  What a strange line!  But then, the always fetching Christine McIntyre comes in, wearing a flowing dress with a generous decolletage.  She reacts to the Stooges with shock.  They turn, look and whistle.  Vernon says "They're sailors, all right."  Why do I feel so dirty?  Curly starts flirting with McIntyre in earnest, but he gives her the hand move usually reserved for Moe that causes Moe's head to follow said hand... hmm!  Wonder what that's called.  Anyway, Curly steps over the line by putting his hand under Christine's chin, playing with her lack of jowls.  Vernon's had enough.  "Seize them!" he tells the two guards.  The camera has a wide shot of the room at this point, and we dolly in a little closer on the Stooges, who are in deep sh... trouble now.  "For your insolence to my betrothed, YOU SHALL DIE!"  The Stooges beg for redemption.  Vernon the Merciful says "Very well, you may choose the manner in which you will die."  Larry pipes up "That's easy!  OLD AGE!!!"  Oh, c'mon, Moe.  You gotta like that a little bit!  No dice.  Moe goes to hit Larry, but the guard does instead.  Moe thanks the guard.  Who's the alpha Stooge now, bitches?  But Curly's the proverbial Raymond Stantz in this final showdown, and he ends up picking the Stooges' final demise... sorry, but I never paid attention during Greek and Roman Mythology class in high school.  I can't even remember what class they taught it in.  English?  History?  Probably English.  We had enough trouble learning domestic names and dates as it was.  And so, between burning at the stake and beheading, Curly picks burning at the stake because... no, I dare not spoil his punchline.  The delivery's tinged with melancholy as it is.  The Stooges are hauled off, despite Moe's troubles with walking.
Next scene: the jail cell proper.  So many Stooge films end up here at one time or another.  Curly can see from the window that firewood's being gathered for the big fire.  Moe takes hombrage with a skull on the wall that's "staring" at him.  And just then... even in Hell, an angel sometimes appears, and McIntyre comes floating in with that same purdy dress.  She bribed the guards to help the Stooges get away.  She gives the backstory of the mounted skulls on the wall.  I guess Vernon's a Catholic.  Tough, but merciful.  And then... just when you thought this jail break wouldn't involve tools... whoomp!  (There they are...)  McIntyre lifts up the mattress to reveal a whole bottom mattress full of tools.  So much for the year 1672.
Now, as even the most casual Stooge fan can tell you, the Stooges never pass up an opportunity to speak in unison.  Case in point: the West Wall which leads to the outside of the palace.  About as weak a reason as you can get, arguably.  But they have to go through their closet to get to it.  Convenient!  And so... in to the closet they go with armfuls of tools.
Next scene: the inside of the closet proper, where Curly takes it upon himself to pick the wall they start breaking through.  He uses the old reliable "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" system, and yes, they're doing it for the self-reference.  Moe just doesn't appreciate anything.  And then, Larry gets hit in the head three times with a sledgehammer.  Worse than that is the effect it has on Moe: pure exasperation to the point of confusion, or at least going off-script.  I just realized!  They're more interested in hitting each other than trying to escape.  They're stretching out time, aren't they?  They eventually fire up the power-drill, and Larry ends up getting lightly choked.  Looks great, though.  Eventually, the three of them erupt through the wall... and end up back in their own cell.  Nice work, guys.  Plan B is thrust upon them by the fetching McIntyre, who may as well abandon her plans of leaving the island, at least as far as the Stooges go.  She's probably better off alone.  Nevertheless, the seeds of Act Two are planted.


At some point between then and now, the Stooges get fancy-schmancy costumes, and are reintroduced to Vernon the Terrible as three men from a far-off land, probably the Orient.  This affords them an opportunity to stretch time out further, bridging the wide culture gap between Deadman's Island and Pig Latin.  As it turns out, McIntyre makes the mistake of telling the plan out loud for all to hear, which includes this other gal, Vernon's secretary/mistress.  The quartet tries to act cool, but the damage is done.  They go ahead with the deception nevertheless.  I don't know why, but Curly with those glasses makes me think of John Lennon.  More clumsy, of course.  Curly earns some post-stroke stuntman credits on this one, bashing into one wall after another.
McIntyre introduces the dressed-up Stooges to Vernon proper.  Much like in Uncivil Warriors, the rightmost Stooge gives a salute and hits the adjacent Stooge in the face.  They've got great comedy names like "The Gin of Rummy."  Vernon cuts to the chase.  I could learn a thing or two from him!  He says "Can we dispense with the formalities and make with the gifts?"  What a pig.  Curly wastes some time trying to find a chair, and then misses it when trying to sit down.
And now, the real meat of the time-wasting practices.  The Stooges go into an elaborate Vaudeville routine, where Moe walks from Vernon's side over to Curly, rudely brushing Larry aside in the process.  First iteration: Moe asks Curly if he has any gifts for the ... for Vernon.  Curly says no or, rather, "Nyah-tink!"  I think I'm spelling that correctly.  Moe goes over to Vernon and says "The Maha..." and Curly launches into the routine a second time.  Moe thankfully cuts it short.  As it turns out, Curly does have something: a heart-shaped lollipop.  Vernon confuses it with a ruby.  I don't know if that's fortunate or unfortunate.  It eventually provides a "raspberry" joke that you'll never forget... no matter how hard you try.  Vernon puts the lollipop into a pocket, giving us plenty of time to finish laughing, and says "What other rarities does the Raja have for me?"  Back to business.  And time for a second iteration of the pattern I outlined before.  I hate to give my enemies any more ammunition than they already have, but the phrase "asky-tasky" is like fingernails on the blackboard, or makes it seem like child's play.  Curly pulls out a ball-point pen.  Or rather, its late 1940s equivalent.  As we all learned from 2008's Doubt, the ball-point pen was another bad consequence of the 60s.  The point being, Vernon confuses the pen for "the tusk of the black walrus."  And that, my friends, was how Pier 1 Imports was born.  Curly launches into his routine prematurely again, and Moe tells him to cram it.  To which Curly replies "Oh, shut up!  I don't have to."  Curly sits down, but ends up hitting the floor, then standing on his head.  I gotta see that again!  I couldn't do that, and I haven't even had a stroke yet!  I'm telling you, double credits for Curly.  I mean, Chris Farley got stuntman credits on one of his bad films.
Moe and Larry rush to Raja Curly's side to pick him up, and physically thrash him about the neck and shoulders.  Moe returns to Vernon's side, and Vernon asks "Are there fair damsels in the Raja's domain?"  God bless the sanctity of marriage between a man, a woman, and any number of mistresses.  I'm just glad McIntyre's not around to hear that part.  Moe's rage gets amped up at 2:07.  I love it.  Again, Curly replies "Aw, shut up, I don't have to!!!"  Moe finally gives a funny answer: "The Raja says that, in his domain, on the islands of Coney and Long... there are some fair chickadees."  Then, the plan is hatched: the Stooges will go fetch some of these girls and bring them back.  McIntyre's back to hear this part!  Women's lib has only recently come to Deadman's Island.  The Stooges leave the room, but Curly adds at least ten seconds to their departure time, falling over his chair again and going out the wrong side of the door for our visual pleasure.
And now, it's time for Vernon's Spanish secretary to shine.  She tells the boss that the castaways are headed to Black Louie's place.  (I skipped over a part)  Vernon sends a note to Black Louie about his impending three guests, and to give them a "warm reception."  Might as well make the Act Break here.


Next scene: Black Louie's Café.  Pretty swank for a place on a 17th Century island if I do say so myself.  Maybe it's just me.  Larry cuts himself out of the main plot action when he gets distracted by a pinball machine.  He says "Look!  A game of skill.  Shall we play?"  Moe shuts down that idea, but Larry sticks to his guns and starts playing the pinball game.  Moe and Curly end up meeting Black Louie.  He sounds a bit like Richard Fiske, but it's a different guy.  I can't believe it!  Fiske's top four doesn't include any Stooge films!  Tis the rare actor that breaks away from the Stooges rolling stock company like that.  Whoever plays Black Louie doesn't get credit on IMDb so far.  Frankly, it's probably for the best.  But Black Louie (a white guy) is nothing if not all business, and he launches right away into explaining that they've got a target practice game going, albeit temporarily on halt.  Louie relieves Curly of his gold and invites four-eyed Curly to throw some knives.  But what would make a suitable target to ramp up the dramatic tension?  Back to Larry, who's losing the pinball game.  He looks both ways, then tries to tilt the machine.  The machine starts making whooping noises.  Did I mention that it's 1672?  Now where have I heard those whooping noises before?  Okay, bad example.  That came a few years later.  Better ask Jerry Beck.  Anyway, Larry gets hit on the head by a giant oversized mallet, providing the best visual joke of the whole film.  Or maybe the best is yet to come.  In his concussion-induced stupor, Larry makes his way over to Black Louie, who says "Now all we need is a live target."  Bump!  Right into Black Louie, who grabs Larry by his curly locks and says "You'll do!"  Now it's personal.  Only Moe's allowed to do that.  But we'll leave that aside for now.  On with the contest.
A tough looking dude brings over some knives to Curly.  Moe's tolerated Curly's weakened eyesight up until now, but tells Curly to be careful and not hit Larry.  Curly can't see where Larry is.  Moe says "Take off the glasses... he's right over there by the wall."  Curly, sans glasses, says "What wall?"  Moe says "Nyaah!  PUT THE GLASSES BACK ON."  Just then, McIntyre shows up in a costume of her own; a little Gypsy number, if my stereotypes are correct.  She shows her face to Moe, and Moe finally figures out it's her.  She tells them of Black Louie's real intentions.  Curly says "We gotta call the cops!"  Moe says "We gotta call the Marines."  McIntyre hides behind the counter, and Larry's in place, ready to have knives thrown at him.  Or, have knives stuck around him, and pulled away slowly with the film run backwards.  Let's see how skilled the filmmakers are with dramatic tension... not bad!  Gotta hand it to Black Louie.  He's at least a sport.  The first one to hit Larry loses.  A second one lands next to Larry's head.  Dayamn!  They must've got the same guy that Ernie Kovacs got... phooey.  "Mack the Knife" keeps coming up.  Might have to post the damn thing myself.  Curly throws his first knife and... needles to say, it ends up nowhere near the target; on the opposite wall, in fact.  After that, the knife hits come fast and quick, for lack of a more adequate term.  Black Louie throws another winning near-hit, but Curly almost hits Larry with two knives at once!  Good thing Larry got out of the way.  Curly almost hits a "painting," then he hits a bad guy in the side.  Bad sportsmanship!  Then he hits a chandelier which makes a bullet ricochet noise.
The gloves are off now: "Foul play, eh?" cries Black Louie.  So much for his chance at foul play.  A big-ass fight breaks out.  Even with his diminished eyesight, Curly manages not to lose a swordfight with this other dude.  Larry manages to use the pinball machine on someone else for a change!  Moe uses the fake painting to his advantage!!  There's just too much action to play-by-play, I tells ya.


I hate to spoil the ending, but I guess I have to.  I'm practically contractually obligated at this point.  With the bad guys all lightly incapacitated, except for the guy with a knife in his side, it's time to escape.  McIntyre reminds the Stooges that they can flee the island, etc.  Moe, however, has an unpredictable change of heart, and decides he wants to be king of the island himself!  Unfortunately for him, he's standing right in front of that pinball machine....

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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