Monday, August 19, 2013

The Prize Winner of De Five Points, Long Island

Well, the Stooges were nothing if not topical.  America at that time was in the grip of two distinct, but perhaps related, fevers: the hunt for Commie bastards, and the hunt for big prize money on TV.  The best the Stooges can do on their limited budgets is a radio show, alas.  After grappling with a healthy breakfast of rubber pancakes and glue, long story short, Shemp ends up getting his mouth full of gasoline-soaked gauze, and after Moe hit Shemp in the mouth a couple times with a hammer... you know, as if the gasoline-soaked gauze were a nail... the phone rings.  "Answer the phone!" Moe orders Shemp.  I'm hard pressed to think of a time when Moe's been more cruel.
But Shemp has his wits about him and he answers the phone, and also gets some quick retribution for Moe's unkindness.  The call is for Shemp from BURP Radio.  Oh, America's also got car fever, and there's a whole quiz show to guessing the sound of a mystery motor.  As usual, Shemp stumbles bass-ackwards onto winning the jackpot, and it's quickly off to the Hotel Costa Plente to live like "gentlemen," as Larry puts it.  Ah, new money.  So ill-equipped to deal with a new set of problems.  But Larry's nothing if not prepared, as his cigar with a cigarette inside of it will attest.  Lol.  The writing staff of The Simpsons must surely like that.
Vernon Dent gives the boys a tour of their new-fangled hotel room.  Well, we will be spending the rest of the pic in there, so why not?  I like the way he says "Over here, please."  Oh, did I mention that this is a bloody remake?  I sorta did in the attached jpeg file, slightly indirectly.  And as you can see, inflation was under much better control back then.  Everything was in perfect balance.  Neither taxes nor big cash prizes fluctuated at all in the 15 years between Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb and A Missed Fortune.  And when I first saw this one, it was after Healthy which, at my young age, I couldn't help but think was a classic.  The Stooges' Grand Hotel, if you will, but not so German.  And I thought this remake was a big rip-off at the time, but I've since softened on that, seeing as how it's just the tip of the remake-berg.
Now, according to my less-than-rigorous calculations, there's about 40 seconds of recycled footage from the previous film.  Even though they destroyed the bed a second time, they couldn't be bothered to re-shoot Moe saying "Get this Henry the Eighth off my neck!"  The film is a total of 15 minutes and 37 seconds long, not counting the opening and closing credits sequences.  Therefore, 40 divided by 937 is about 0.04.  Only four percent recycled footage!  I have a feeling the Stooges will never work that hard on a remake again.
I couldn't help but notice that the subplot of the three gold-digging girls is driven further to the end this time, and the Stooges never get to put two and two together to find out that it's their pet monkey that comes into the room.  But the love lesson is as true then as it is today: you only get to throw a bucketful of water at a girl one time.  Beyond that, and you'll get hit on the head with a champagne bottle.
A brief thought about the epilogue.  The Stooges are in a heap on the floor of their wrecked hotel room.  They owe the hotel a lot of money and are generally in a bind.  But Shemp has the solution: win another contest!  Sometimes you need more than a hammer in your toolbox, basically.  Otherwise everything starts to look like a nail.  Oh, and Larry and Moe may think Shemp comes up with bad slogans, but what Moe comes up with at the end is even worse.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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