Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Besser-ella, or Zircon Girls Are Easy

Well, it's a Joe Besser Stooge short, so there's a high mathematical probability that it's about flying saucers.  This will be their third and last ever, and it's called Flying Saucer Daffy.  I said short, so Have Rocket - Will Travel doesn't count.
Well, now that I've actually watched the short... I couldn't help but notice the production values!  Really, it's been a trend with these Besser shorts.  To put it bluntly, was this actually directed by Russ Meyer?  I don't remember the Stooges relying on tit jokes so much.  I mean, in the vast history of Curly and Shemp, they must have said "I'm happy to see them!" at least once or twice.  There was that one Shemp short where Christine McIntyre offers Moe some cookies, and he quips "I love cookies!  Especially blond ones."  And of course, Shemp flirting with the curvaceous devil in... I forget which one, but it was quite integral to the plot... wasn't it?  My point being, somehow the Stooges' own showmanship always kept the boys above water.  Here, they're obviously furiously dog paddling to merely stay afloat, and the lead weight tied to the ankles of Moe and Lawrence that is Joe Besser isn't helping.  And so, the American preoccupation with bosoms (kewl!  Right at the top...) comes to the rescue in Flying Saucer Daffy.
Not that the film doesn't have charms on its own.  Maybe I just can't admit it, but this one's rather inspired in a few spots.  We meet the Wicked Stepmother first, and then her two proverbial daughters (Moe and Larry).  The three of them are sorry excuses for packrats, as it were.  Once again, everyone else has to afford Joe the opportunity to appear the virtuous type, as he makes his entrance with his arms full of groceries.  Already there's a wasted gag opportunity: "Did you wipe your feet?" asks the aunt.  Joe says "Yes."  ...oh, so we're not going to be full-on Bizarro World here?  Wotta ripoff!  Not even a "I told you to never wipe your feet!"  There's a funny joke about TV dinners.  Oh, I'm just enjoying myself way too much with this.
There's a sink full of dirty dishes that Joe has to clean up; it looks like dishes from a different movie, but oh well.  Soon after, Joe makes the literary reference complete by wishing for his fairy godmother to come along.  It happens later.  And of course, what Joe Besser Stooge short would be complete without his whining?  He gets particularly whiny here when a struggle erupts over his camera.
Let's move on.  So, the premise is that Joe's got two weeks paid vacation at his job... whatever that might be.  Ah, the good old days of strong unions.  He's forced to bring Moe and Larry along.  Fade-in on the camping grounds... hmm!  Another new vista to the world of the Stooges.  Maybe Besser's not all that bad.  This sequence with Moe's a little strange because it appears that all of Moe's lines were re-dubbed later.  His mouth must've been full of saliva from holding the cigar in his mouth, lol.
And so, the notion is bourne.  Instead of their usual plot of getting some quick money from a reward for catching a criminal, now it's for a snapshot of a U.F.O.  And, in another inspired moment, a strong wind starts to blow, and a pair of picnic plates stuck together starts to rise into the air, much like one of Ed Wood's spaceships!  Joe Besser aside, how can you not like that?
And so, Besser snaps a photo of a squirrel as the plate flies by.  Besser's got some strange Polaroid camera that can develop pictures instantly.  Besser sees the plate in the photo, gets mad about it and walks off, giving Moe and Larry a chance to plan on getting that reward money all for themselves.  Here's kind of a funny gag where Larry grabs hold of this blanket over their car... it caught me off guard at the time, but now that I think about it, I think it was used in one of the Home Alone movies.  Yucch.
Ah, the old branch gag.  How I've missed you!  Anyway, business experts Moe and Larry end up using Joe's photo to get riches and fame.  I say Joe's photo, because justice is universal and harsh, and it comes up later.  Also, there's indeed nothing new under the sun, but as far as I know there's still no biography of a successful famous person that says "Their business empire grew out of a photograph of a flying saucer."  A whole fictional movie, sure, but not a factual single photo.  And so, several headlines and one wheelbarrow full of money later (Me Wantee!), Moe and Larry are on Easy Street with a capital E and a capital Z, so they either stretched that $10,000 further than I thought, or maybe they picked up some other lucrative deals along the way while they were at it.  Either way, Moe's got the new, sleeker haircut (apparently on Besser's insistence) and he's got a lot of eye shadow now!  What's up with that?  Anyway, vengeance comes to the door at this point, and Moe and Larry try to pin it all on Joe.  Of course, Joe's not having any part of that, and Moe and Larry have to go to jail... that instant, of course.  Emil Sitka takes the wheelbarrow out of the room, and Joe grabs a couple bucks from it on the way out.  I've never seen Joe so happy.  If that doesn't sum up what's wrong with Joe Besser in one moment, I don't know what does.
Next scene: Joe's all alone back at that camping site.  Must've filmed that part in the same day.  And so, since a fake spaceship caused all these problems, surely a real one will set things right again.  Well, when seeing spaceships is your drug, it can be a long, hard road for a long long while.  Just ask Roy Neary!  Fortunately for Joe, he doesn't have to wait long for his fix, as his extraterrestrial Fairy Godmother comes right away, from a planet called Zircon, incidentally.  But the two babes piloting the ship are far from nesosilicates, baby.  Nothing but sexy carbon for ol' long suffering Joe.  And so, Tyra and Elektra come up to Joe.  He looks at their tits and says "Wow!  What mamas!"  He may be fifty years old and act like a pre-tween infant, but he's not dead.  Not that I'm not happy for Joe.  Why look!  He even gets a moment to pad out the length of the film by cleaning up his campsite.
Next scene: we end as we began, with the Wicked Aunt sitting in a chair and drinking, but at least the surroundings haven't gotten completely run down just yet!  Lol.  The spaceship money cleaned up the place a little bit, but don't worry; she'll have it back to Grey Gardens in no time.  And once again, Besser proves himself a stone cold killer when he gets rebuffed by Moe, Larry and their screen mother.  She's about to hit Joe over the head with a bottle, but Joe accidentally knocks her out first with his bottle.  Joe eventually gets all the headlines re-heaped upon him, and we see him riding in the back of a limo with a big fat cigar in his mouth, and his arms around the two Zirconian space babes.  "Boy, this is the life!" exclaims Joe.  The only problem with this scene is that he looks more like a corrupt mayor in a regular film than like a Stooge in a Stooge film.  The short ends showing Moe and Larry sharing a cell in jail, apparently just off the parade route, as there's some confetti in the air.  Now I feel more at home!

Epilogue: This may not be the last, but it's definitely the first Joe Besser short where he tells himself "Ow!  Not so hard!"  Now, if that isn't what's wrong with Joe Besser all summed up in a single moment, I don't know what is.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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