Thursday, August 01, 2013

Hail the Conquering Hollywood

This has to be one of the most bizarre Stooge shorts ever.  That's right, even more so than Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo, their ode to Tennessee Williams.  For one, it deviates from the strict Stooge regimen of ending music.  The ending theme has evolved over time, but it's always played.  Here, incidental music is used through the fade to black.  Terribly disorienting.
As for the plot, well, all is not well at B.O. Pictures.  Emil Sitka gives an inspired performance as the studio head with two assistants to hold a chair for him for when he sits down.  The Stooges aren't working with one of their usual directors, producer-turned-director Hugh McCollum, so this must be personal for him.  The Stooges are employees of B.O. who work with the studio's lovely female dancers.  Think of Larry as Marc Shaiman on piano, Shemp as Baryshnikov, and... Moe as Bob Fosse?  Why not, I say?  Similar personalities, after all!
So, the setup is: studio head Sitka wants to make a movie about the native peoples of a distant island dancing.  Unfortunately, the island he bought has natives that don't know how to dance.  In his compromised quest for authenticity, he wants the Stooges to teach the natives how to dance.  And so, in the very next scene, there they are on the island.  They're working their way through the dense vegetation, but they don't do the branch in the face routine!!  Very disorienting.
Things go from bad to worse when the Stooges discover that not only do the natives not dance, but they're headhunters as well.  But they're a little polite about it.  Medicine man Kenneth MacDonald... you heard me right.  MacDonald gives a similarly inspired performance as the medicine man of the island tribe.  A consummate professional through and through.  MacDonald explains to the Stooges that they will be fed well and entertained before their heads are taken.  And dare I say that this Stooge short is half-ass educational!  MacDonald explains in broad terms what the shrinking of heads entails... I'll let you watch that one.
Another disorientation: see, normally when a Stooge asks "How do you like that?", the upward emphasis is on the that.  Moe changes it up by switching it to the word 'like.'  "How do you like that?" says Moe when they go into a rather large, well-built hut and see the Stooges' most enigmatic foe yet: a four-armed statue.  This provides a nice head-scratcher for all you anthropologists out there: are the island people into half-Voodoo, half-Buddhism?  Fortunately for the Stooges, the four-armed statue is in possession of a box of hand grenades marked "U.S. Army."  To cut to the chase, the Stooges don't lose their heads, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view, and American Imperialism is re-affirmed when it comes to the tiny island nations of the world.  Why, I bet even David Quammen might like Hula La-La, who knows?  I'll give it four stars, and just for the statue.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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