Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You know we're getting Hotter and Hotter, Sweeter and Hotter - Let's shut it down!

Our next Stooge film is called Sweet and Hot, and it's basically 16 minutes of the Stooges enjoying some Chinese food... I'm sorry, actually it's one of those weird ones where they don't play their usual selves.  Even the Stooges get tired of playing the Stooges all the time!  Wheeler and Woolsey, not so much.  Yes, like Sylvester Stallone in Driven, the Stooges realize that they're no spring chickens anymore, and that maybe mentoring's not such a bad thing.  Of course, Sly still thinks of himself as the senior in high school rather than the aging principal.  The mentoree?  A plus-sized farm gal with the voice of Susan Boyle.  She's played by... let me check IMDb here... Muriel Landers, star of stage and screen, who also appeared in Stooge director Jules White's previous Tricky Chicks, from which some footage was apparently clipped to reuse here.
Now I understand the Stooge fan's complaints, Joe Besser aside.  The Stooge formula is actually a rigid one, so when they depart from it, typically by playing characters slightly other than their usual selves, it can be a bit unsettling.  But when you're sitting through all 190 of them, your perspective might change a little bit.  Just think of it as a poke in the chops of all those high-falutin' Hollywood musicals that fill peoples' heads with all sorts of false promises and unattainable goals.  Why, even you might be the next Cary Grant or Marilyn Monroe, no matter how untalented or Morluk-like you are.  All the American Dream asks of you is a little ambition and elbow grease!
And so, we find ourselves on a family farm, where 'Tiny' Landers whistles while she works, as do all the barnyard animals.  Some of these animals look like they're also imported film clips from other movies, but who can say.  Even I'm not that much of a student of Cannery Row.  Larry plays a hometown boy who made it big in the big city as an entertainer.  Go figure.  He comes back to find Joe and Tiny stuck in their same agrarian rut.  Larry tries to convince them that showbiz is the way to go.  Maybe it's just me, but you don't see this sales pitch so much in modern televised or filmed dramas anymore.  Frankly, there's too many people in showbiz these days, and not enough people helping out on the farm.  And even if you were to see this sales pitch being made to someone, they would of course have to ultimately refuse.  No, no, my meager lot in life is all I need.  That and the love of my Vogue model partner is all I could ask.  So bear in mind that this film was made in the late 1950s and social mobility was still an achievable goal back then.
Anyway, back to Larry's sales pitch.  He tries to sell the virtues of New York to Joe and Tiny.  Nothing about New York sounds terribly appealing to them... except the food.  Glorious food!  Hot sausage and mustard!  At long last, someone else will do the cooking!  They're sold.  Off to show business they go.  But there's one problem... 'Tiny's crippling stage fright.  Well, Larry knows a good head shrinker that will fix her right up.  That oughta eat up some time!
Next scene: the big city, and the offices of Hugo Gansamacher M.D., played by none other than Moe Howard.  As Wikipedia rightly points out, Moe dons his German accent for this character work.  Again, even Moe gets tired of playing the same old Moe over and over again.  To cut to the chase, Moe talks to Tiny in her sleep to discover that her abusive father (played by Moe) is the cause of her crippling stage fright.  Mel Brooks stole this idea for his High Anxiety, obviously.
And so, with her stage fright cured, Tiny goes on to wow a small audience at an upper-class dinner theater someplace.  And why look!  Here come Joe on newspaper and Lawrence on violin to help her out!  The show is a sensation!  Then again, the number she sings is something apparently titled "The Heat is On," a gentle reminder that girls just wanna have som fun sometimes, too.  Of course, if you're part of my generation, there's only one "The Heat is On," damn it.  And sure, it's as forgettable a number as the one in this Stooge film, but it's our forgettable number, damn it.  Ours.... yecch, what a terrible music video.
...what else?  I must be forgetting something.  Oh, okay.  Here's one for the Creepy Police.  After the success of their show, Tiny's just gotta kiss someone.  In this case, it's Uncle Larry.  Ewwwwwwwww!  And on the mouth, no less!  And on a lesser note, we end with Moe Freud saying that there's nothing to fear but fear itself... and maybe mice.  I always thought that that FDR line was bulls... B.S.  Still, a nice slogan when gearing up for war.  As for my collection of Stooge sound effects, that overused "Oof!" sound is used here, so there's another one to add to the pile.  The master list is in here somewhere.
Sweet and Hot's script is credited to Jerome S. Gottler who, once upon a time, worked on the script for the very first Stooge short, Woman Haters.  Ah, that takes me back.  Apparently he's a song-and-dance man, so perhaps he's responsible for the musical numbers in Sweet and Hot.  Interesting bookends to a Hollywood career, these two Stooge films.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

No comments: