Friday, January 25, 2013
The Banks and Braes of Lorna Doone
Again with the old Curly version of the theme song, with the old elegant cursive Stooges font. Thinking of the other Columbia shorts, I wonder if people ever walked out on the ones with just Joe DeRita or Joe Besser. I might have. Anyway, the lettering of "Hot Scots" is all decked out in clan plaid. Shiver me begorrah! It's hoch the lech nech nech le nech! ...I probably spelt that wrong.
Scene: Scotland Yard, where there's two actors that seem to be genuine Scots! Maybe it's Alec Guinness in disguise or something. And as sure as eggs is eggs, the Stooges come pouring in and quickly destroy our suspension of disbelief, just as any highly recognizable icon should and would. But wait! Check out those chin-dos! Even the Stooges like to play pretend every once in a while.
For now, Inspector McCormick's far too cordial, calling the Stooges "gentlemen." The Stooges rarely call each other that. But no slight's too small for Moe and Co., and he tells the Inspector "we'll prove we're not gentlemen!" They do this by removing their chin-dos. As it turns out, they've been plastered on with a very painful adhesive. It hurts Larry and Shemp when Moe pulls their stuff off for them, especially Shemp. The Inspector says "That's amazing!" then throws his assistant a telling look. Well, that they're secretly gay, and that the Stooges didn't fool them... something like that. As it turns out, the Stooges saw an ad in the paper for "yard men" needed at Scotland Yard. The Inspector must be in a good mood, hiring these three mail-order detectives. I haven't seen such wannabes since 1999's Mystery Men.
Cross-fade to next scene: the Stooges are looking for "missing papers," presumably on the grounds of Scotland Yard. Shemp and Larry have the pointed sticks, while Moe's gingerly trimming a hedge. Shemp and Larry complain to each other, so Moe bonks them on the head with the wooden ends of their sticks. Moe reminds the other two of the importance of doing a good job: there just may be a promotion at the end of it! As for the Stooges themselves, they get back to doing what they do best, and Shemp ends up lightly stabbing Moe in the ass with the stick. The only thing that one might consider a promotion for the Stooges was their delightful cameo in Four for Texas. They got to amuse Dean Martin!
Anyway, back to our lot in life. After Moe gets his ass poked, he grabs Shemp's nose with the pliers and pulls him through the hedge. He then cleverly asks Shemp if he'd like to be punched in the face. Dayamn! Moe should've been a copyright lawyer. Now it's Larry's turn, as he's Ayn Rand's worst nightmare. Hiding litter under a giant divot. The very idea. Larry eventually notices that he's being watched, and he freezes. Larry slowly looks up. Good time killer! But David Letterman was once king of the Network Time Killers. I wonder if YouTube... ah, skip it. Okay, good. They've got at least one. Blame it all you want on director Hal Gurnee, Dave. We all know you're the boss. And speaking of the boss, Moe starts getting extra-bossy, so much so that Larry asks directly "Hey, wait a minute! What are YOU gonna do?" Shemp seconds the question. Moe gives the right answer: "Nothin'. What about it?" The boys get back to work... or do they? Shemp "accidentally" stabs Moe in the foot. And why not? Listen to the noise it makes! Before Moe screams in pain! How come the Stooges never did a Twilight Zone episode? Submitted for your approval: Misters Moe Howard, Larry Fine and... whoever else is still alive. Men who make funny noises when they get hit. An unintended consequence of Newton's Third Law in... the Twilight Zone.
Oh, and... incidental laugh of the day. Shemp politely takes off his hat so Moe can fist-bump his head. Kinda like Dirty Work. Next scene: the Stooges have smartly coordinated their efforts now, and switched jobs. Shemp's on stab detail, with Moe taking what Shemp stabs. Larry's doing the hedge work now. Why look! No conflict, and I dare say I see some smiles... even if they are a bit Stepford-ish. Is this the end of the Stooges as we know it? No, thank Goodness. Moe brings us back to Stooge reality by keeping Larry firmly in his place. And with just words, too! Quite the alpha Stooge. He tells Larry to use the big clippers. Larry gets to work with the big clippers, but ends up cutting a big hole in the bag. I wonder if anyone will put two and two together.........
It's a bit early for the Second Act, but something big just happened! Scene: Inspector McCormick's office, where his assistant just wrote down some info on a note. He leaves the room and the window open. The note flies out the window!!! Cut to the Stooges who get a nice joke out of it. Shemp says "If there's any more paper in this yard, I'll eat it!" Cue the piece of paper, to which Moe says "Here comes your lunch!" Bullseye. Being the nosey nose he is, Moe looks at the piece of paper before he drops it in the sack. Nice double take; my friend whose mind is a catalogue of double takes will surely love this. Anyway, the note details an assignment for three operatives to go to Glenheather Castle on assignment. "Must be Scotch!" the note says. Well, they've faked worse to get a job. Moe regales Shemp about their proud Scottish heritage. I should probably say 'his' instead of 'their,' but don't forget! They're brothers! Moe says "Look at the place. Clean as a whistle! So let's blow!.... not bad!" Larry brings him down to Earth, saying "Not good." What a killjoy. He deserved that slap. Now, for you logic-minded types out there, I will agree that yes, their reasoning is neither complete nor sound. Moe tells the other two "I told you we'd get promoted if we did a good job." The only problem with that is... THEY STILL CAN'T PROMOTE THEMSELVES!!!!!!!!!!!!! But they will nevertheless spend the next 12 minutes proving me wrong.
Oh, right. Time to spill the stuff they picked up. Following the rigorous chain of command, Moe slaps Lawrence, who in turn slaps Shemp, who in turn spills all the stuff... Hmm! They re-dressed the balcony, didn't they? I've heard the last three in a row were all filmed on the same set!
Next scene: wow. They can't even get decent stock footage. We see a very jumpy shoreline with a castle on it. Scene after that: the big hall where the trumpets once blew... that is, blew fruit pulp on a buncha guys' faces. This time, the boys are dressed once again in kilts. Shemp says "Look at the size of this shack!" It must be classy. Normally they call a place like this something like "not a bad-looking dump." Larry tests out the place's echo, and gets roundly smited in the belly by MacMoe. Speaking of that, they're not in character at all yet... at least, in terms of accents. But Shemp's more worried about ghosts. Moe tries to calm Shemp's fears, saying "There's nothing to be afraid of in castles!" And then... the creepy butler sneaks up on them, and scares them all half to death. Oh, delicious, tasty irony. "The Earle will see ya noo," says the butler. Shemp asks Moe if his slip is showing. Moe rightfully knocks Shemp about the head with his walkin' stick.
Next scene: the Stooges are true gentlemen, and wait for the appropriate point in the script to make goo-goo eyes at the luscious Christine McIntyre. NOW it's time for the accents! And it's a good thing I did the link to Pardon my Scotch earlier, because Moe recycled the line from that! And finally, we turn to McIntyre, the secretary. "And what might your name be, lass?" crudely asks Larry. She says "Lorna Doone." Shemp makes a delightful pun out of that, but does Moe appreciate the effort? Of course not. She quickly leaves.
The Earl is played by a fella named Herbert Evans. What an amiable soul. According to the IMDb, he was born in London, but his accent seems pretty good. Of course, I'm no expert, but it seems better than the Stooges', at least. He offers the boys a "snifter." Shemp gives a very strange reply to say the least, quasi-racist to say the worst. The Earl asks Shemp "What part of Scotland are ye from?" Moe says "Southern Scotland, below the McMason - McDixon line," just to drive the point home. As it turns out, the boys only get to sniff the cork of a dusty, cobwebby old bottle. "It's a hundred and fifty years old!" says the Earl. He gets the biggest sniff of the cork, of course. The old thrifty Scotch for ya, as the ol' stereotype goes!
"And now, lads, I tell ya why I sent for ya," says the Earl. "I want you to guard my valuables tonight, for I'm off to a gatherin' of the clan!" That's it? That's the big assignment? Good Lord. Anyway, the Earl's about to give the Stooges more instructions, but the butler tells the Earl something that sends him off and running for the taxi. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what the guy says! Maybe someone else could decipher that for me. Must be something along the lines of the meter's running. And so that old dude does a little running himself. Eat it, VistaGlide!
Next scene: the Stooges are in a new room, and the creepy butler is helping Larry get dressed in fancy pajamas? Good Lord again! Oh wait, it's got a hoodie! Why, Larry looks 30 years younger already! And much hipper at that. He could hang with the homies with the best of 'em. The non-Ted Lorch butler tries to leave as creepy an impression as possible, saying "If ya need anything, just wail!" before finally leaving. So the plan now is that Larry's going to sleep while Moe and Shemp go and look around. Larry hesitates at first, but Moe eventually convinces Larry that going to sleep's the right move. Shemp's feeling a little anxious himself and wants to take something for his nerves. "Like what?" barks Moe. "A trip home," Shemp says. A few seconds later, Moe says "Well, if you're so nervous, grab that gun!" And Wayne LaPierre agrees, of course. A gun is a sure cure for a lot of things. Ah, the gun: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. Of course, Shemp accidentally hits Moe on the head with it, but that can be fixed with a little training!
Next scene: the hallway proper, where Moe carefully guides Shemp by holding on to his nose. Shemp looks around, and ominously says "Gee, I hope nothing happens." Just then, a dude wearing a quasi-blackface mask from Eyes Wide Shut joins them in the hallway, but they don't see him. I'm assuming it's a him, perhaps wrongly! To make things interesting, Moe folds his arms and says to Shemp "What could happen? Go on, tell me. What could happen?" "Nothing, I guess" says Shemp, intimidated by Moe's reasoning. Moe slaps Shemp in the head and says "Well, go ahead, then! Go ahead!" as he often does. They leave the hallway without seeing the strange masked figure. The masked figure goes into the room where Larry's sleeping. The masked figure pulls a cord, and Larry's bed quickly moves into the next room. The masked figure then picks up a bag and starts loading it with goblets and things off of a shelf like a damn dirty sneakthief.
Next scene: time for a rare dolly shot in a Stooge film. There was also another one when Moe gets the note that fell from the office window, but this one's much more grandiose. Moe and Shemp sit down in chairs under a painting. The camera dollies up to the painting. At first, we think it might be a guy standing still, but someone starts cutting the painting from behind it... damn, which will lead to a guy standing still. Back to Larry in the other room. The thief soon joins him and makes the mistake of not sending Larry back into the other room. The thief finds fresh stuff to put into the bag, but gets too overeager and drops something, making a huge crash. Larry wakes up, of course. He assumes it's the other two and says so, then does A MASSIVE DOUBLE TAKE. Poor Lawrence, he always gets the worst of it. Back to Moe and Shemp. The cutting of the painting is now complete, and a man dressed like the painting's dynamic figure now stands there, hovering, nay... towering over sleeping Moe and bored Shemp. Shemp hands a "shaving mug" to... who exactly does he think he's handing it to? To Moe? Moe's asleep! That's what I love about the Stooges. They never look at something until they absolutely have to. Shemp sticks out his hand again, and the figure hands Shemp a skull. As HorrorLover98 rightly points out, time for another massive double take. Shemp looks at the thing in his hands, finally realizes what it is, yells, and throws it away. The skull lands on Moe's skull, and Moe wakes up. I need some time to think about that for a second... wow. I think that's a Stooge first! A skull hit with another skull! Shemp is long gone, but Moe seems to be afflicted with a need to talk just to himself, just as Shemp was. Meanwhile, Larry is now officially the hostage of the masked thief. In for a penny, in for 180 pounds, reasoned the thief. The thief deposits Larry in the closet for later usage. Just then... the thief hears footprints. Shemp's about to go through the door, but he realizes it's the wrong one. The thief reaches for Shemp as he runs off... shyeah, right, like the thief was going to do something to Shemp with his bony ol' hand. Whatev's. The thief gets into the bed and pulls the cord, and the bed slides back into the other room. Just in time, too, as Shemp enters the room, closes the door, then sees that the bed is back in the room. Shemp talks to Larry very loudly, even though Larry's supposed to be asleep. Larry doesn't wake up, which Shemp should've found suspicious. Just then, Shemp sees something, does a massive double take, then picks it up. It's either a bowling ball or a cannonball. He says "This little marble will come in handy!" Already planning to drop it on some unlucky head, eh?
Back to Moe, still sitting in the chair under the "painting." The figure bends over deeply to look at Moe. Moe gets up, and the figure gets back into position. Moe backs up to a curtain. A hand reaches out from behind the curtain and touches Moe. Moe totally flips out. Turns out it's Lorna Doone with some tea and cookies! Suspicious entrance, but never mind. It's Christine McIntyre. Ain't she lovely? She says a buncha stuff to Moe, but ends it by asking Moe "You like cookies?" Moe says "Oh, that I do, especially blonde ones!" Oh Moe, you old, old dog. Then he says "How about you and me makin' with the conversation?"
Enough of that. Back to Shemp, who's putting the bowling ball on a tiny ledge above the bedroom door. The masked figure's looking at him. We get a nice up-close shot of the mask. I wonder if it's Native American. Shemp then decides to get in bed next to Larry. There's a massive tug-of-war over the blankets. Time to kill some time! Shemp touches the mask's teeth and says "Say, you ought to see a dentist." He eventually looks at the figure he thinks is Larry, screams, and runs off. Shemp then tries to go through the door and................
About time for an Act Break. McIntyre asks Moe a question... I'll be damned if I know what that means. Moe seems to know, though. So McIntyre fires up an album and... they start to dance! Time to kill a little time! Moe goes off by himself into the foyer to dance and... alas. McIntyre starts handing valuables to the man in the picture. So many crooks to catch... one for each Stooge! How come they're never outnumbered?
Back to the masked bandit who returns to the room with Larry in the closet. The thief takes the bag and starts to leave, when... Lawrence explodes from the closet, knocking the thief against the wall, and conveniently out cold. So many Stooge plots rely on someone being knocked out cold. They must have had a good anesthesiologist on staff. Larry grabs the bag and hops out of the room, and attempts to go into the other bedroom with Shemp out cold against its door. Shemp thwarts Larry's first attempt to get inside, then whines like a baby "Open up! It's me, Larry!" His plaintiff wails are muffled by his gag. The thief comes out of the room, and Larry screams, hitting a very high note, and plows into Shemp's room. Shemp helps to untie Larry, and Larry lays out the whole thing. "I got the knick-knacks! The guy with the big teeth took 'em!" I've never seen him so triumphant.
Back to Moe, still dancing away all by himself. McIntyre and the painting guy have taken the last of the knick-knacks, and just in time too, for Moe's working his way back to McIntyre, babe. They dance together a little more until McIntyre quickly cuts out. Moe doesn't notice. The painting guy now appears on ground level with Moe from behind the same curtain McIntyre came out from behind. Moe, lost in his reverie, now starts dancing with the painting dude. "You're a wonderful dancer!" he starts to say, not noticing what a poor dance partner the painting dude is. Moe finally figures it out, screams, and runs for the phone. He calls for the police. Some Scotland Yard man he's turned out to be! The painting dude finally gets to throw that knife he's been holding for so long. He hits Moe's hat with it. Looks like there were no fancy camera tricks like running the film backwards, as far as I can tell! No, just good ol' fashioned wire work. Moe hotfoots it up the stairs. Eat it, VistaGlide!
Next scene: the action-packed hallway, where Moe comes up behind the thief still trying to get in Larry's and Shemp's room. Moe thinks the thief's one of his buddies, until he sees the mask and gets scared. Moe turns around only to find the painting dude there with a knife. A mighty struggle over the knife ensues until Moe kicks the dude in the ankle and runs into the other bedroom. Moe dives under the covers of the bed.
I'm watching this on YouTube so I just noticed: the guy from the painting dressed like a sheik seems to be Ted Lorch in badass mode! Ted goes into the bedroom where Moe's hiding under the covers like a scared little girly man. Meanwhile, Shemp goes for the shotgun and shoots at the door. It's assumed that Larry stood aside. The gun's backfire causes Shemp to fall backwards, catching himself with the rope that pulls the bed into their room. Lorch just misses giving Moe a good stabbing! Well, as you may have guessed... Moe's gone from the proverbial frying pan to the veritable fire, as Larry and Shemp tend to clobber anything with a sheet over it. Shemp uses the butt of his gun, and Larry gives Moe a good macing. They take the sheet off to reveal an angry-faced Moe. Triumph turns so quickly to shame in these Stooge shorts. "You dough-heads!" says Moe, and claps their two heads together. They hit roughly the same note in pain.
As if that's not enough action already, we cut to the door. They managed to put one desk in front of the door to block it, but the painting dude manages to get in anyway. Moe ends up hitting the bad guy on the head with the gun, and Lorch collapses onto the bed. Meanwhile, Shemp ends up on the other side of the bed post. Shemp and Lorch are on opposite sides of the end bed post, and they rise up and look at each other. Maybe the wrong occasion for that gag, but why nitpick? The struggle begins anew, but Larry's heroics save the day again when he gives Lorch a good head-macing. Moe even complements Larry on it! And then, the seemingly invincible masked bandit comes in and starts to strangle Moe. They all line up just right so Larry hits Shemp with the mace, then Moe. Larry and the masked thief start struggling. Who will save Larry's bacon now? Shemp wakes up and does the honors, hitting the masked thief upon the head with the mace. Meanwhile, Moe's against the wall, and pulls himself up by the bedstrap. The bed starts to close, but something stops it from closing completely... oh, right. The two burglars. They take the mask off and... it's the creepy butler who helped dress Larry! And he would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling Stooges.
Just then... McIntyre comes into the room, grabs the swag bag and runs out. The boys give chase. Down that same damn staircase she goes. Unfortunately, she doesn't see the Earl and his three bobbies with him. Or, as the British say, "lift." Oh Lorna, how could you have doone this? The Earl orders her taken away.
The Earl's a grateful man, telling the Stooges "Lads, I'm a grateful man." They're getting an actual reward this time! This time, they'll actually drink some of the ancient liquor from the cabinet. Alas, they open it to find a skeleton playing a bagpipe. The four of them run out of the room. Next scene: they run through the main hall of the castle and out the windows at about 12 fps. It seems to really be them, too! They must've had soft glass in them windows. Eat it, VistaGlide!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan