Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Not 'Giant' Enough, or Treasure of the Stoogia Madre

It's time for our next Joseph Q. Besser-based Stooge short, Oil's Well that Ends Well.  Speaking of ending well, there's only a small handful of these left!  And according to Wikipedia, they all incorporate previous footage from other shorts.  Gotta get back to my math again...
Oh, and I should probably give a shout out to my close confidant who turned me on to this one well before I got to it.  They decided too that, yeah, maybe it was time to brave the wilds of the creepy Besser Forest.  You know, just to try something different for a change.  Anyway, let's just dive right in, shall we?  So, this is a remake of the Curly classic, Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise.  However, there's only a teentsy tiny portion of the footage from that one reused over again.  I won't bother counting the wheezing sounds that are reused for the water pump, just point out that they're reused as well.
Now, maybe this isn't something I can blame on Joe, but part of the joy of Stooge films used to be that they would lose their on-screen jobs.  And not just lose them, mind you, but send their employers into a murderous rage.  Case in point: The Tooth Will Out.  I think that's the one... oh, yeah.  Now THAT'S the stuff!  I've said it before, but... God bless you, 69789Darius!  Keep on bringing the classics to the people.  Sony be damned... just kidding, Sony!  Anyway, back to gruesome reality.  I guess the Stooges are growing up after all!  They've got plot to peddle now!  Losing their jobs is but a mere afterthought now!  Now, I know the Stooges have had a mama in the past, but a papa? ...okay, it's slowly coming back to me.  Gee, if there was only a blog that reviewed all the Stooge films.  Sure would come in handy right about now!  3 Dumb Clucks features a father of the Stooges, for one.  SPOILER ALERT: we don't see the father this time, though in retrospect I find it hard to believe that Joe Besser would pass up a chance to play the role of the father.  Wonder how he'd treat Larry and Moe?  Hmm!  That's a real head-scratcher!
Okay, back to work.  It seems like all of Curly's old lines get done by Larry now, but Curly's wishing theme is carried on by Joe.  I guess it's supposed to make him look good somehow.  Sorry, but for some reason I don't feel like cataloguing all his "wishes" that come true... and frankly, neither does Larry.  Why, he does it a second time here! ...anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.  The boys receive a letter from their pa that he's in the hospital and that he needs money for an operation.  Ah, the good ol' USA.  Even back then, the finest health care in the world.  Anyway, pa sows the seed of a brilliant idea: find uranium on that old mining property of theirs!  This will kill two birds with one stone: pa's operation will be paid for, and there'll be money left over to join the one percent!  I'll try not to burst that bubble... well, okay, just one question.  Why exactly were they worried about losing their jobs?  Why haven't they thought about their mining property before this?  Oh well.  I just don't know how it is, I guess.  Moe property, Moe problems, I always say.  Actually, Larry bursts the bubble too, listing off a list of things they'll need to start mining.  To cut to the chase, sort of, Joe makes a few more wishes that come true.  Small things for now.  But Joe's not totally inhuman.  With great power comes great responsibility, and Joe starts getting spooked at his good run of wishes coming true.  Moe backs away slowly... if that doesn't sum up the Stooge fan's relationship with Joe Besser right there, well, nothing will.
Next scene: that damn cabin again!  Wonder if they're going to have potatoes and eggs again... damn, I'm hungry.  Oh well, only 10 hours til breakfast... nope, Moe's going to make oatmeal, when suddenly... Larry realizes he forgot to buy the milk.  And then, we all learn something about Joe that I wish I never knew... he can't eat oatmeal without milk.  Oh well, carry on I must... like Yoda?  And so, Joe wishes for milk... and lo and behold, his wish gets granted again.  Larry makes a quip that should resonate with our meat-obsessed culture of the now.  And once again, Joe proves he's a stone cold killa.  Look at that indifference!  Look at that strength!  Dayamn... And once again, Moe's a total killjoy.  Larry has a rare moment when he's enjoying himself, so Moe of course has to put that to a stop quickly.  This leads to a rare occasion where Moe uses the block.  I don't ever remember him doing that!  Gee, too bad there's not some sort of blog where... anyway, Larry's steam doesn't cool down as quickly anymore.  Moe tells him "Toss me those groceries!" and, dayamn, Larry's got a big can and he's winding up like a baseball pitcher!  Larry stops himself at the last minute, of course, but only because Moe sees what he's doing.  I guess we're not quite at the last straw yet.
Anyway, Joe comes in with the cow.  As for milking the cow, Larry's up to bat first... hmm!  I wonder if this shot of the cow turning around is old stock footage.  This will change my calculations, if only slightly.  Maybe it'll be up to 1.75 percent old footage.  Larry ends up getting kicked by the cow and he smashes against the wall, getting hit by some falling stuff.  The cans miss him, but he gets hit dead on by a container of flour.  Moe  shakes his head and takes over the milking of the cow.  Moe gets some much needed revenge on Joe by squirting him in the face.  Joe sounds a bit like Curly here... now I'm getting scared!!!
Now, maybe I'm just an immature teenager at heart, or maybe coming up is the best damn passage of this damn film.  Why?  Because shi... stuff gets blown up real good.  And look!  They've got a Geiger counter and everything!  No expense was spared here.  And Neo-Luddites take note: no matter how technology advances, the following Stooge joke is timeless.  Moe asks "What does the Geiger counter say?"  And Larry answers... well, best to see for yourself.  Soon after, Larry accidentally hits Moe in the head with his mining hammer... you know, that special kind with a chisel-shaped triangular head?  Note how Larry apologizes to Moe... kinda half-hearted, dontcha think?  Still, Larry's punishment seems a bit severe.  I think Moe was using a real rock by mistake!  Again, Larry's steam doesn't cool so easily here!  Dayamn... now who's the stone kold killa?  ...never mind, Joe proves himself Top Dawg again by chucking one of those clusters of dynamite sticks at Moe.  Moe scolds Joe, but Joe's hearing is bad, so he gets up close to hear what Moe had to say.  If this here scene doesn't highlight the tension that Joe brings to the group, well, nothing does.  Now, I know certain quarters want to give Joe credit for everything good the Stooges ever done, but I must protest.  Take this scene, for example.  Joe breaks the Fourth Wall.  Can he leave nothing intact on his crusade of destruction, for God's sake?  Now, some like to think that this is the only time that they broke the Fourth Wall, or that Joe did it with such panache, making all other attempts look like a proverbial pile of puke.  Well, to them I say... what's THIS?  Chopped liver?  Here's another good one.  Anyway, we move on to Joe's next labored gag.  For me, it's an homage to the following scene from the veritable Curly classic How High Is Up?  Now, if this scene doesn't further illustrate the tension between Joe and the other two, nothing does.
Next scene: now, to rather blatantly pad out the running time of the film, it's another case of Stooges v. Bunk Bed From Hell.  You might remember similar struggles from such Curly classics as I Can Hardly Wait and G.I. Wanna Home.  Here, it's like Berth Marks but without the moving train.  As usual, Moe suffers a few of the usual consequences of taking the lower berth.  Joe is so weak that he never makes it to the top level!  At least Curly got up there!  Further tension between Joe and Moe here.  The only part that seems a little unique is Moe's following attempt to help Larry get to the upper berth.  Can I safely call that a guilty pleasure?  I hope so... oh, Joe's just so sad and weak.  No two ways about it.  And yet, once again he proves he's just a stone cold killa.  He's like a cornered skunk, I suppose.  Don't mess with Joe.  After all, when all is said and done, Larry and Moe end up on the top bunk, having been rendered unconscious by the adjacent wall.
And finally... a sad tribute to the scene from the source of the old footage, safe to say.  The pump gets to wheeze twice, and plus there's no dramatic tension of the oil well being on someone else's land.  When the oil starts flowing, they're way more worried about stopping it.  You know, because they're losing so much money.  Not to mention the fact that you actually feel something for Curly when he gets yanked off of the gushing oil and plummets to the ground towards what would be a painful death for anyone else.  Joe gets on the ride a second time!  Maybe this time the fall will kill him.  You can say it all you want, Joe, but Oil's Well does not end well.

Length of short: 16m21s
Length without old footage: 16m7s17frames

percentage of old footage: 1.3%!  A record low!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

1 comment:

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