Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Death of a Remake

Our next Joe Besser short is Triple Crossed and, as much as I hate to disagree with Wikipedia, they refer to Triple Crossed as "penultimate."  Now, personally, I cringe at the thought of any Joe Besser Stooge short being referred to in such glowing terms like "penultimate", especially since it doesn't seem to be in a pejorative sense.  Not to mention that it's a remake of the probably far superior He Cooked His Goose.  But that's the influence of Larry for you.  I mean, if you're going to have to do a remake, why not one you had fun with the first time?
(after watching) I think I've been far too lenient with Joe.  I've given a couple of Stooge shorts a "BOMB" rating, but none with Joe so far.  Plenty of them deserve it, on second thought.  Well, that's the weird nature of film reviewing sometimes.  You're not always in a professional mood to give a review of lasting permanence forever and ever amen til the end of time.  It's kind of a subjective, in-the-moment kind of enterprise, especially if you used to do it for a newspaper, where pressure to finish the damn thing is always on.  Anyway, in this instant moment, my fangs are out and ready to bite.  So let's dig in, shall we?
First of all, Triple Crossed has to be the sloppiest Stooge remake ever.  Angela Stevens returns as the long suffering Millie.  See, these were the old days when you could leave your door unlocked... that is, until the likes of Lawrence just started coming in.  Really, aren't all relationships like this exact moment here?
The remake laziness begins right away.  Angela redubs her line over the existing footage so that she can say Joe's name instead of Shemp.  Unprecedented.  If you think that's bad (and you should), a double stands in for new footage of Joe and Belle.  She never turns around!  You never see her face!  Fake Shemp indeed.
But back to the first scene with Larry and Millie.  In case you forgot, Larry leaves after a couple major pratfalls.  In the original, Shemp steals the flowers and ... okay, he's no gentleman.  He doesn't knock on the door, but he does repeat Larry's double take.  And really, aren't all man/woman relationships like this?  The point being, there's a little bit of consistency in the sets.  Cut to Triple Crossed.  Joe comes home and... what the hell?  Where's Millie's bachelorette pad?  Oh, no, not for old long suffering Joe.  Millie's not exactly barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, but she is making her darling Joe a cake.  Yup, sounds like Joe, all right.  Never miss a meal, and never miss dessert.  This is a rather bizarre scene because Joe brings in a turkey and a shotgun and... no, I must'nt!  (slapping face)   Must... move... on.
Okay, now here's how Joe and his vast influence ruins the next scene.  In Goose, Larry gets Shemp a job modeling men's underwear in homes... well, it was a simpler time before the internet ruined everything.  At least, if you go by what was on television!  Here's how Joe ruins the scene.  First of all, Larry gets Joe a job modeling underwear... AND Santa suits!  I'd say "spoiler alert," but that's their job this time!  And second, Larry explicitly tells Joe that his first customer is "my pal Moe's wife."  See, Joe's kinda dumb and he needs all the help he can get solving some of these mysteries in these here Stooge films that he stars in.  Oh, and he also complains to Larry about using the word "playboy."  It comes into play later, arguably, but that's another problem.  I don't ever remember Curly or Shemp complaining about the words that their fellow Stooges use.  Sure, I haven't given the matter much scrutiny, but God, Joe's such a whiny baby.  He must fight hard against even the slightest suggestion that he's not a Christian of only the purest soul.
Okay, now here's how Joe and his vast influence ruins the next scene.  In Goose, Larry sends Millie and Moe over to Moe's apartment at the same time.  Shemp hides under the bear skin rug, then climbs up the chimney, gets shot by Moe (Shemp's scream remains intact, as Wikipedia informs us, and my ears confirm.  Screams of pain weren't in Joe's contract, it seems), then dons his Santa outfit and comes back down the chimney.  Here in Triple Crossed Land, Moe pulls off Joe's Santa beard.  This didn't happen in Goose.  The jig is apparently up.  There's a fresh close-up of an outraged Millie exclaiming "Joe!"  But Joe does use the ... you know, the thing that puts out fires with air... it's full of soot and he hits Moe in the face with it.  Shemp did it better, of course.  That's an undebatable point.  Shemp also ran away in his Santa outfit better; also undebatable.
As for Joe, he's merely delaying his quest for the pure truth, because even a purist like he is realizes that budget constraints and a begrudging respect for the film you're using existing footage from and maintaining plot consistency in the remake are boundaries that must be respected.  But don't worry... Joe will find a way around those.  The last major plot move that Joe ruins involves Larry's triumphant arrival to Moe's apartment where all his plans were supposed to fall into place.  In Goose, Shemp lures Larry towards the janitor's closet, then slams the closet door in his face.  Temporarily stunned, Shemp grabs Larry, pulls him into the closet, dresses him up as Sandy Claus, then literally frogmarches him back to Moe's apartment, where Moe grabs the Santa that blackfaced him!  What could be more perfect?  Certainly not Joe's new version of events.  Here in the T.X., Joe lures Lawrence into the janitor's closet like before.  Joe adds his sadistic new spin on things by repeatedly bashing Larry in the head with a bucket.  Stone cold killa.  Meanwhile, Moe concurrently makes an ass of himself much like before... I mean, exactly as before, because of the previous footage and all.  Now, does Joe dress up Larry in the Santa Claus outfit?  Nope!  Why, he marches Larry right into Moe's apartment and explains Larry's plans to everyone instead.  And, of course, Larry being the tool that he sometimes is, goes right along with Joe's evil scheme.  Well, there's at least one good part to this scene.
And so, how do we end?  Well, as with most of these Besser Stooge shorts, Moe and Larry have to beat up on each other while Joe plays the hero... lol.  Excellent ad lib, Moe.  Well, somebody's gotta make up for Joe's lack of charisma.


It's been a while since I did a proper Stooge film epilogue, and for that I apologize to Google and to my ten devoted followers.  I indeed have let you down, but in the instant case an epilogue is called for.  It's basically the last twenty seconds or so of the film, so it's at least short.  Now, I understand that I'm a square and I really don't know the first thing about comedy.  Much like Eugene Levy's character in Waiting for Guffman, I too sat next to the class clown in school and took notes.  I am also quite terrible at comparative film, and I never took a Comp. Lit course in college, but I'm going to take a stab at it anyway, because I've been thinking a lot about this.  Something about Joe Besser has made me do that a lot lately.  I'm put in mind of the first Deuce Bigalow movie.  I didn't watch all of it, but it's sort of like a Stooge film in its basic structure: Rob Schneider needs some quick money to pay for some damage he caused, big surprise.  But just before that, he meets a gigolo, and he's curious about the profession.  He asks the guy "You get paid to have sex with women?"  The guy says yes.  Then Schneider says "...I gotta talk to my career guidance counselor."  I'm sorry, I got that wrong.  Here's the IMDb quotes page.  Schneider asks the guy "How did you get that job? (gigolo)"  The gigolo answers "I just sorta fell into it."  Schneider says "I'm gonna kill my guidance counselor!"  I'm still scratching my head over that one.  Are we supposed to be laughing with Schneider or at Schneider?  I think it's supposed to be "with."  I mean, I can totally understand his inflated, warped sense of self, but let's leave that aside for now... and maybe forever.  Let's get back to the end of Triple Crossed.  All is forgiven, Joe's the big hero in his Santa suit, and... Millie kisses Joe.  On the mouth!  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww.... That's cruel and unusual!  Admit it, Angela Stevens.  Come out of retirement and respond to this blog post.  And then, Joe says "See?  I'm no playboy... I think!" then he winks at the camera.  That's right, Joe, you were one Death of a Salesman away from marrying Marilyn Monroe.
Now, I can totally understand Joe Besser's inflated, warped sense of self, but it seems to me that part of being a playboy is having the reputation of playboy.  But I think I see where Besser's coming from.  Sure, you just won back Millie's trust... but is it really worth having?  I mean, da bitch didn't even finish making you that cake!  Dump her loser ass, Joe.  You're a playboy, damn it.  Act like one.
It's too late to keep this brief, but basically, Triple Crossed is a desecration of its proverbial mother log, the far superior He Cooked His Goose.  Awful.  Simply awful.  ZERO STARS.

length of Triple Crossed: 15m58s7frames
minus footage from He Cooked His Goose: 7m43s9f

48.3% new footage!


-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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