The Three Stooges Short Takes June Part 1
The June Three Stooges film short releases span from 1936 to 1959 and include some great ladies in supporting roles including the often used three girl group, Christine McIntyre and a former Miss Sweden, Greta Thyssen. Even The Boys get into the act as they’re dressed as girls in Nutty But Nice. They also portray professors on an anthropological expedition, are out West, down South in a comical encounter in a bullring, and have some interesting social interactions with the upper classes. All this plus a pie fight and music from The Original Two-Man Quartet,
There is a very large supporting cast in one of the June shorts and there are some role reprisals from key supporting players.
Stone Age Romeos Released June 2, 1955
“We explored the South Pole.” “And the North Pole.” “And even a telegraph pole.” “Shut up tadpole.”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Shemp. Credited Cast: Emil Sitka, Virginia Hunter, Nancy Saunders and Dee Green. Uncredited Cast included Barbara Bartay, Cy Schindell, Joe Palma & Bill Wallace. Produced & Directed by Jules White. Screenplay by Felix Adler. Story by Zion Myers.
Short Take: This is not a true remake but a recasting of I’m A Monkey’s Uncle. The newly written intro for Stone Age Romeos gives the film a modern and scientific perspective and then sends The Boys out on an anthropological expedition, taking them from locations on the map like Drinka Gin and Rigor Mortis to the shores of the Drop Dead Sea. This setup – the anthropological aspect – validates the caveman footage from I’m A Monkey’s Uncle and integrates well. The professors with beards and cavemen without beards creates a subtle comedic visual. The 35 seconds showing the map also brings a fun visual to the short, what with the crazy names.
- This is the first short shot using a 16mm camera.
- Virginia Hunter, Nancy Saunders & Dee Green play the girl trio Aggie, Baggie & Maggie.
- Anthropological comes from anthropology which is the scientific study of the human race, its culture, society and physical development.
Pals And Gals Released June 3, 1954
“Hey, I found a box of bullets!”
Cast & Crew: Larry, Moe & Shemp. Credited Cast: Christine McIntyre, George Chesebro and Norman Willed. Uncredited Cast: Norma Randall, Ruth Godfrey, Stanley Blackstone, Frank Ellis, Vernon Dent, Charles Conklin, Joe Palma & Blackie Whiteford. Produced and directed by Jukes White. Screenplay by Jack White. Story by Clyde Bruckman.
Short Take: Another short with the three girl group: Belle, Zelle and Nell, a reprised role by Christine McIntyre. Like many of the shorts in the 1950’s, this was a rework of prior shorts. While usually one short would ‘morph’ into a new one, Jules White used two previous shorts – Out West and Goofs and Saddles – for this redo. With the three gal element, the plot revolves around The Boys saving the girls, this time breaking them out of jail where they are being held as hostages by the bad guys who mistook Shemp’s talk about a ‘vein’ as a gold find. Actually, The Boys were out West on a vacation so a swollen vein in Shemp’s leg could heal. As usual, mundane circumstances become elevated to trouble that The Boys have to sort out and of course, use their unique ‘problem solving’ talents.
- Ruth Godfrey, Belle in the short, was the daughter-in-law of Jules White.
- This was Christine McIntyre’s fourth appearance as Nell, the most of the same character in multiple shorts by a supporting player.
- Breaking out of prison bit: The Stooges are stuck in prison or they’re trying to get a friend out of prison, and they use saws and other tools to try to cut the cell bars so they or their friend can escape (and usually accidentally hit each other with the tools). Also used in 3 Dumb Clucks, Saves By The Belle, Out West, Squareheads of The Round Table and The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.
Sappy Bullfighters Released June 4, 1959
“Nice Pepe. Pepe, your nose. It has grown real long I think. Nice Pepe. Pepe, what has happened to your hair? It is bald headed on the top!
Cast & Crew: Larry, Moe & Joe. Credited Cast: Greta Thyssen & George Lewis. Uncredited Cast Included: Joe Palma, Eddie Laughton & Cy Schindell. Produced & Directed by Jules White. Written by Jack White.
Short Take: This was the last of The Three Stooges’ Columbia shorts released. It was actually shot in July 1957. Ironically, in the short’s setup, The Boys are unemployed actors, which they had been in real life since Columbia ended their contract in 1957. But two weeks after this short’s release, Larry, Moe & Curly Joe were back at Columbia filming the feature film Have Rocket – Will Travel and beginning a new chapter for The Three Stooges at Columbia.
- Sappy Bullfighters co-stars former Miss Denmark Greta Thyssen.
- Harold Breen plays Greta’s jealous husband. Breen first doubled for Shemp in the 1947 short Brideless Groom and appeared in 20 short subjects from 1947 to 1956. He also stood in for Joe DeRita in Snow White and the Three Stooges. He died on September 8, 1963. He was 54 years old. He was also known as either Hurley Breen or “Red.” He was not Fake Shemp. That was Joe DePalma who stood in for Shemp after his untimely death.
- By the time Sappy Bullfighters released theatrically, The Three Stooges were already popular on TV as Columbia had begun releasing their shorts to television in 1958. By June 1959, The Boys shorts were playing on 156 TV stations coast-to-coast. That was a staggering 30% of all the TV stations in the country at that time.
Pies And Guys Released June 12, 1958
“You kleptomaniac!” “If that means what I think it does… I’m guilty.”
Cast & Crew: Larry, Moe & Joe. Credited Cast: Greta Thyssen, Milton Frome, Gene Roth, Emil Sitka, Harriette Tarler & Helen Dickson. Uncredited Cast: Symona Boniface, Barbara Slater & Al Thompson. All three appeared via stock footage. Produced & Directed by Jules White. Written by Jack White.
Short Take: Pies And Guys is a variant of Half-Wits Holiday, itself a variation of Hoi Polloi which was a parody of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. We have two professors – Quackenbush & Sedlitz – and a big bet between hereditary versus environment as the key factor in changing The Boys into gentlemen. Of course, there will be a big society coming out party – with pastry – when The Boys are ‘reformed’. Of course, we all know how that is going to end! Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!
- You may recognize Milton Frome (Prof. Quakenbush) A regular on Milton Berle’s television series from the late 1940’s to mid-1950’s, and a recurring actor on The Beverly Hillbillies in the 1960’s. A favorite of Jerry Lewis, Frome was cast in 16 of Lewis’ films, as well as Lewis’ television series. Frome got his start in films at Brooklyn’s Vitaphone Studios in the mid-1930’s, he was in a couple shorts that also featured Shemp Howard.
- Pygmalion was written by Shaw in 1912. There have been many films made based on the play including the 1938 film with Leslie Howard as Professor Higgins and Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle. The Higgins & Doolittle characters are remembered by most film-goers from the 1964 adaptation of Shaw’s work: My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza and Rex Harrison as Higgins.
- The Three Stooges based many of their films on classical characters like this short and there were many references to Shakespeare throughout their body of work.
- A Bevy of Beauties Trivia: Among the many party guests Pies And Guys are supporting players Judy Malcolm, Mary Forbes and Wanda Perry. These three are among the few supporting players that worked with all three iterations of The Three Stooges in their Columbia shorts.
Guns A Poppin! Released June 13, 1957
This area’s fine for hunting.” “How do you know?” “I saw a sign outside that said Fine For Hunting.”
Cast & Crew: Larry, Moe & Joe. Credited Cast: Frank Sully, Joe Palma & Vernon Dent (from stock footage). Produced & Directed by Jules White. Screenplay by Jack White. Story by Jack White & Ellwood Ullman.
Short Take: The film opens with a courtroom scene with Moe charged with Intent to Commit Mayhem! Now that’s a great setup for The Three Stooges! In this case, it derives from Moe’s aggravation with Larry and Joe who are too loud for his nerves so he does go after them, especially when they practice their music as the ‘Original Two-Man Quartet’! To calm Moe’s nerves, The Boys decide to go on a hunting trip and end up in the middle of a chase as the local sheriff pursues a crook. We get a cool line from Larry: “This area is fine for hunting…I just saw a sign that said ‘Fine For Hunting’!”
- This is Joe Palma’s first appearance in a short since he portrayed Shemp in the ‘Shempless Shemp Shorts’ made in 1956.
- Palma is also known as the ‘Fake Shemp.’ Fake Shemp, or simply Shemp, became known as someone who appears in a film as a replacement for another actor or person. Their appearance is disguised using methods such as heavy make-up (or a computer-generated equivalent), filming from the back, dubbing in audio and splicing in past footage from the original actor’s previous work, or using partial shots of the actor. The concept is named after Shemp Howard, whose sudden death in 1955 necessitated the use of these techniques to finish the films to which he was already committed. Once somewhat commonplace throughout the 20th century, the use of Fake Shemps to emulate living people are now forbidden under Screen Actors Guild contracts, largely because of a lawsuit filed by Crispin Glover that determined that the method violates the original actor’s personality rights. The method continues to be used in cases, such as Shemp’s, where the original actor is deceased and permission from the deceased actor’s estate is granted.
Nutty But Nice Released June 14, 1940
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Curly. Credited Cast: Only The Boys. The large uncredited cast included John Tyrell, Vernon Dent, Ned Glass, Lynton Brent, Bert Young, Ethelreda Leopold, Johnny Kascier, Elaine Waters, Evelyn Young, Lew Davis, Charles Doherty, Cy Schindcell & Eddie Garcia.
Short Take: This is The Three Stooges first foray into the film noir genre that became one of the main film genres in the 1940’s. The other would be, of course, war films. Nutty But Nice has heartless gangsters committing robbery and kidnapping, a sad, disillusioned little girl, and heroes whose ‘stoogeness’ (that would be The Boys) separates them out as loners. These are the classic elements of film noir: crime, disillusionment, and loner heroes. The Boys try to help Dr. Lyman (John Tyrell) cure young Betty Williams by using their comedic talents to brighten her noir life. As part of their efforts, The Boys dress as little girls, one of the better drag gags ever used by The Boys.
The physical staging of the film also have a memorable scene: Three mobsters, Larry, Moe & Curly, a hostage, a mattress, a door and a book are involved in slapstick and mayhem and it all takes place in only 12 square feet! A rather terrific film feat! No pun intended…we just had to write that!
- Jules White received a music and lyrics credit, besides those as producer and director, for the short Nutty But Nice. The song ‘yodeled’ in the short was composed by Jules White. It is titled “I’m a Cowboy From the Western Plains.”
- Nutty But Nice was released on June 14, 1940. June 14th is Flag Day. Fly it proudly.
- Elaine Waters made 12 shorts in only four years from 1936 to 1940 with Nutty But Nice being her last appearance. In fact, she racked up 24 credits between 1935 and 1940. A brief but active career.
This concludes the first round of The Three Stooges June Short Takes. We’ll do another installment soon as there a few more June shorts including a 3D short and a short with one of the largest casts ever used in a short.
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