Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Children of a Besser God

Whew!  Glad that's over.... oh, right, we haven't started yet.  Yes, just as Mary Gross is the most outspoken, eloquent former cast member of Saturday Night Live, or the way Ray Manzarek was the most outspoken, eloquent former member of The Doors, we find that Joseph Q. Besser is the happiest of Stooges, despite the Spike channel's anti-Joe stance when it comes to showing the shorts.  Then again, Joe did try to have it both ways, co-authoring two books, one called Once a Stooge, Always a Stooge and the other called Not Just a Stooge.  Which is it, Joe?  Which is it?
I think what Joe's ultimately trying to say is that, like Ringo joining the Beatles, Joe's status in showbiz was elevated once he joined an already well-respected showbiz institution.  Sure, Columbia already had him under contract to do shorts... none of which I can seem to find right now on the YouTube.  Here's one with Joseph DeRita.  Go figure.  The point being, Besser had worked with Stooge veteran director Jules White previously, so when it came time to replace Fake Shemp, someone who could open the door to remaking the far richer library of Curly shorts would just have to do.
Up first: Hoofs and Goofs.  As you can see, the rollout of this new Stooge couldn't be more lavish.  Harps added to the theme music, the trademark three-part "Hello" with Joe... the studio must've thought it a good idea.  Try and stay one step ahead of the haters, something like that.  Yecch.
Anyway, the plot.  The plot seems to have been extracted from The Flying Deuces in an unauthorized subplotectomy.  Joe's reading a book about reincarnation and instantly assumes he's going to be hearing from dearly departed relatives in no time.  But Moe and Larry are old pros at this, and Larry says "We gotta do something about Joe" as though Joe's been with them for the last 23 years or so.
There's at least one highlight: Moe sticks a passed out Joe's face into a tub of water.  And spoiler alert: we've graduated from Fake Shemps to Fake Moes, if only for one episode!  If nothing else, this makes me appreciate Curly even more.  All the stuff with the talking horse is frankly kinda creepy.  There's a reason why it's at the end of The Flying Deuces after all.
Incidentally, to sum up Joe Besser's performance in 16 Stooge shorts, here he is in cartoon form as a studio gate cop.  It'll save you a lot of time anyway.  Me, I brought this upon myself.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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