Sunday, December 02, 2012

Curly's Last Appearance

If you're like me (scary thought, I know), you know this one better as the zany Loose Loot.  But that one's a ways off, so try to act surprised when we get to it.  But perhaps there's a valuable lesson here for budding young screenwriters.  A few nips and tucks, and you can turn a train ride into a trip backstage at a theater!  Time for Hold the Lion, Please... I mean, Hold that Lion!


They've been upgraded to the new Shemp version of "Three Blind Mice"!  Nice.  Now, normally we see stock footage of a sign on the side of a building, but here... wow.  Savour this moment for a while.  We see the door of Cess, Poole and Drayne, Attorneys at Law.  The door opens to reveal the Stooges talking to Emil Sitka!  That's the film's entire budget in that one scene!  Anyway, the plot.  Legal matters have always been a bit of a tangle in these United States and, for the Stooges and their inheritance, the instant case is no exception.  Lawyer for the Stooges Emil Sitka is trying to explain the situation to the Stooges, and apparently it's taken an hour.  The Stooges better learn faster than that.  These guys charge big, you know!  Some dude named Mr. Slipp is the administrator of the Stooges' impending inheritance.  All Sitka can do is serve him a subpoena, and the courts take it from there.  Larry cuts to the chase, saying "Attorney, schmorney.  We want our inheritance!!!"  Shemp remembers seeing something in the paper about the estate.  Sitka looks surprised.  Shemp takes his sweet time to smell the roses, and clean his lensless glasses, saying "Rome wasn't built in a day.  Neither was Syracuse."  Shemp reads the article, and Sitka responds.  Yeah, yeah, boring stuff.  When do we get some action here?  This is a Stooge film, damn it!  There are expectations!  The expectations are met at about 1:41 or so.  The action comes ten seconds earlier in Loose.  I've never noticed the crunching noise when Moe grabs Shemp's nose!  Kewl! 
Things calm down after that.  Then, the spell of legitimacy is broken when lawyer Sitka tells the Stooges to get the Ambrose Rose file out of the yonder file cabinet.  I've never heard of a self-serve law firm before!  Must've been a post-WWII phenomenon or something.  And so... time to stretch out time in this film for a little while, as the boys grapple with an angry file cabinet.  Sounds like a hot new iPhone game, no?  Score: file cabinet 3, Stooges 1.  Moe wins the battle against the cabinet, saying "See?  You have to use your brains!"  Then, he uses his brains, but in the wrong way.  Larry and Shemp happily point this out to Moe.  Sitka finds the file, but the Stooges aren't done with the cabinet just yet.  Final score: cabinet 6, Stooges 1.
Cross-fade to next scene: the offices of Slipp, Tripp 'n Skipp: Bad Guys on the Lam.  Just a shot of the door this time, no going through it.  Next scene: Kenneth MacDonald at his desk.  You probably know him best from The Ten Commandments, but he's probably got more lines here.  He's on the phone, and makes the mistake of writing down the train he's planning on catching.  He steps into his very, very large closet, and the Stooges make their trademark entrance just after that.  Larry gives the reason for the film's title at about 4:00 or so.  The Stooges make the mistake of saying aloud that they don't know what Slipp looks like.  Slipp hears this, and uses it to his advantage later on.  The Stooges agree to split up and search all the other offices for Slipp, so that Slipp can take them on one at a time... I mean, spoiler alert!  There's a catchy chant at 4:16, a little bit of hitting, and they're off.  Larry "stands guard" and takes himself a seat in Slipp's chair.  Slipp emerges from the closet, and pretends that Larry is Slipp.  Slipp proves himself to be the fourth Stooge by grabbing Lawrence's nose, then slapping his hand.  Must be some kind of wrestling move.  Then, Larry... or, his stunt double, rather ... gets pulled by his feet over the desk.  Slipp holds Larry upside down and beats him against the floor.  It's epic, I tells ya.  Epic.  Slipp rolls Larry, and Larry gets up onto the couch, completely passed out.  The first subpoena is torn up by Slipp.  Moe comes in next, and Slipp deals with him much faster than Larry.  I'm a bit let down by this!  Down goes the second subpoena.  Shemp's next, but at least he has a little fight in him.  Well, not really.  Slipp lands a punch and Shemp spins like a top.  Slipp gets in another good punch, and Shemp flies back against the wall, getting a goldfish bowl onto his head, and water all over his jacket.  Such a lack of dignity and grace. 
Slipp takes out the briefcase full of money for all to see, and exits.  Moe and Larry wake up first, inspiring a similar scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles many years later.  Time is then spent on getting Shemp's head out of the fishbowl.  Larry tries to shoot Shemp's head with a gun in order to get it off, but Shemp ducks at the last split second.  See?  Who says these are bad for kids?  You've got lessons with consequences just like that!  I say, if you don't show your kid this scene, you're a pretty lousy parent.  Eventually, they find a picture of Slipp in his desk, and the information that Slipp wrote down.  All that's left to do is get to Slipp's train and save the day.  Oh, right... the fishbowl.  Moe cracks it with the handle of the gun.  I guess they're taking that with them.  Back then, you could get on a train with a gun much more easily.  It's this kind of scene that makes me fret for Shemp's frailty.  He thanks Moe for liberating him from the evil fishbowl of doom, and reassures Moe that he's perfectly all right.  His foot touches a broken shard of the bowl, and DOWN GOES SHEMP!  Moe and Lawrence help Shemp up, and out of the office they go.  They dub in Moe saying "Poor kid must have indigestion!"  For whatever reason, the line is NOT in Loose Loot.


Scene: the train proper.  But they've got no money for tickets, says Larry!  Moe reassures his troops, saying that they'll grab Slipp and slip off the train, for lack of a better term, thereby bypassing the need for tickets.  Why do I get the feeling that things aren't going to go so smoothly?  Anyway, Moe asks Shemp what a good word for "scrutiny" is.  Shemp replies, "Scrutiny!"  Moe pokes Shemp's eyes out for that.
And so, the search for Slipp begins.  First up: some dude with a hat over his face.  Who could be more guilty?  As it turns out, it's Curly with a full head of hair.  He apparently didn't like being Curly, that is, sans follicles all the time, so he made up for it after his retirement/second massive heart attack.  Godspeed, Curly.  Godspeed.  We still miss ya.
Next customer: some dude with a comically oversized beard.  His hat gets removed, and he gets a good tug on that beard of his.  Funny story... it's a real beard.  The guy gives the Stooges the ol' three-fer face slap, and tries to nurse his beard back to health.  The Stooges make off with the dude's hat.
Next up: train employee Dudley Dickerson, who enjoys a brief period of normalcy fluffing pillows before he has to do his bug-eye routine.  The Stooges rudely walk past him, and meet up with the conductor proper.  "Tickets, please," he says in close-up.  Moe deals with that mean ol' character right well: he says "We left them in the drawing room!"  Moe opens the drawing room and, like an idiot, the conductor walks right in.  The Stooges shake hands in celebration of one of life's small victories... then, a woman screams.  Moe says "Nyaaah!" and they're off running again.  The conductor emerges with a massive black eye, and he spies the Stooges in their trademark huddle.  "Hey you!!" he screams and runs after them.  Larry and Shemp lure the conductor into a room by acting like complete children.  The conductor runs at them, and Moe sticks his leg out.  The conductor's stunt double goes flying, and the Stooges all run past the camera.
Next scene: a room with a bunch of crates in it.  What is it about films with Shemp and rooms full of crates?  That's three films in a row now with crates!  This room seems awfully wide to be on a narrow train, but we've suspended disbelief before in these here Stooge flicks.  Why should this be any different?  The boys hide in an especially big crate right in the middle of the warehouse floor.  Not the best place to really hide, but they'll be off and running before you know it.
Next scene: the inside of the crate proper, where the boys finally get a chance to sit down and rest.  They didn't get a good look inside the crate when they went in, obviously, because we all can see the lion behind them.  Close-up of the lion growling.  Time for that moldy old "What are you growling about?" routine.  Moe asks Shemp directly this time about indigestion.  Larry has an alpha-Stooge moment, but Moe sees the lion before dealing out some swift retribution for that crime.  And so, the Stooges' stunt doubles escape the crate, with the lion close behind.  Next scene: the long train hallway with draped beds.  The Stooges duck into one of them, while the lion moseys along, trying to figure out this alien environment it is now in.  They decide to get Slipp first thing in the morning after a good night's sleep.  I almost forgot about him!  There's a brief ode to Berth Marks, and it's off to sleep.
Next scene: the lion finds its way into the room that Dudley Dickerson is in, who's busy shining shoes.  And yup, you probably guessed it, he grabs the lion's tail by mistake and dips it into the shoe polish container.  The lion growls, and Dudley bugs his eyes out.  You know the drill.  Dudley sticks his head out the window, but can't bring himself to jump from the moving train.  The lion scratches Dudley on the ass, and Dudley says "Help!  Help!  I'm losing my mind!!"  We'll hear that again later on down the road.  The lion leaves after that.
Back to the Stooges, asleep in a heap in the train bed.  And even though there's a lion loose on the train, Moe sticks his foot out in the hall.  The lion approaches, and starts licking his foot.  Moe smiles.  Back to the lion.  There's a strange noise that's supposed to be someone laughing, but now I can't tell if it's supposed to be Moe or the lion.  I report, you decide.  Back to Moe, who's definitely the one laughing now.  This goes on for about half a minute.  When Moe's laughter stops, it's time to hit something.  He hits Shemp in the face with his bare foot.  Dang!  And a real nice zetz it is, too.  Just for good measure, Moe tells Lawrence to "wake up and go to sleep."  Why exclude anyone?  They rearrange themselves, and the lion soon joins them at the foot of their bed, so to speak.  Apparently, the lion's sitting on their feet, which leads Moe and Larry to do some more bickering.  Shemp grows visibly weary of their bickering, but is soon scared anew by the lion.  The three of them get scared by a stuffed lion in one quick scene, and soon it's off to the races again.  DOWN GOES THE DRAPES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The Stooges crawl off like cowards.  We don't see the lion and all those good people together, alas.  Too dangerous.  Oh, right.  The Third Act.


Well, there's about two minutes left to go, and we haven't seen Slipp yet!  WHERE IS HE?  Oh, good.  There he is.  Too bad they can't throw that dirty guy to the lions.  He ducks out of the way of the Stooges' fists and makes yet another getaway.  This may be the trickiest bad guy the Stooges ever had to deal with!  This makes Hold That Lion! their The Day of the Jackal.  Back to the crate warehouse, where Slipp taunts them with his superior arbitrage skills.  Slipp even manages to use Shemp as a Trojan horse in this tiny enclosed space!  It's the saddest thing I've ever seen.  Moe tries to cool Shemp off with a hammer.  
Slipp's getting serious now.  He sneaks up on the Stooges, and reaches into his coat for a knife!  Oh, dude.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.  Meanwhile, Moe realizes the stupidity in trying to use a hammer as a fan, and throws it away behind himself, hitting Slipp in the face.  A valuable lesson for everyone, kids and adults alike.  Sometimes it's a good thing to throw a hammer away behind you without looking to see if you'll hit anything.
Slipp slumps to the ground with a mighty sigh, and the day is saved.  Moe goes in to hit him with the hammer, but has a rare moment of mercy.  The boys go through the bag of the Ambrose Rose estate like kids in a candy store.  These days, of course, the candy store's everywhere.  Trader Joe's, Cost Plus World Market... there's the odd See's Candies outlet store, of course, but for the most part, the mom and pop sweet shop has been subsumed by every grocery store in the world.  Sorry, got on the soapbox again.  Moe starts counting out the stacks of bills: "There's one for you, one for you, and one for me."  Slipp starts to come to, so Moe gives him a nice hit on the head with the hammer.  Gee, I wonder what he's going to say?


Greed threatens to tear the boys apart.  After Slipp's hit on the head, Shemp starts saying "Gimme the bonds!  I want the bonds!"  He ends up falling ass-first onto a stack of Ace Farm eggs.  When this happened to Joe Besser, Joe said "Raw egg.  I HATE raw egg!"  This time, Shemp says "I feel like a piece of French toast!"  Shemp: 1, Joe: 0.  Shemp throws eggs at the other two, and they get hit in the face.  They get hit by something that doesn't quite look like an egg.  The eggs seemed to have turned into quasi-pastries in mid-flight.  Moe and Larry take a little time to stop counting their new-found riches to hit Shemp with some of the eggs he's sitting in.  As fine an ending as you could have.  Well, second only to Gypped in the Penthouse, perhaps.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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