The Three Stooges had 20 shorts released in July over the years. Three of these shorts have iconic and significant elements so we are showcasing these three in this month’s Short Takes article; they include Violent Is The Word For Curly, Punch Drunks and I’ll Never Heil Again.
Violent Is The Word For Curly Released July 2, 1938
“Football!” “And basketball!” “I can do very nicely with a highball.”
Cast & Crew: Larry, Moe & Curly. The uncredited cast includes Gladys Gale, Marjorie Deanne, Bud Jamison and Al Thompson. Associate Producers: Charley Chase & Hugh McCollum. Directed by Charley Chase. Story & screenplay by Al Giebler & Elwood Ullman.
Short Take: This short is the first where the title has very little bearing on the plot. Most of the titles so far have tied into at least significant plot elements. The paradoxical irony in this short is The Stooges making intellectuals look like stooges and The Stooges pose as intellectuals (college professors) and teach a class. These structural elements alone enhance the comedy.
The opening gas station scene has as much variety as any sequence in The Boys shorts, including how they have trouble with inanimate objects, like Curly’s wrestling match with the hose.
This short has an interesting story line, terrific action like The Boys and Gladys Gale playing a football/basketball hybrid. The dialog, written by Al Giebler & Elwood Ullmanit, gives us many memorable lines including:
- Curly saying,“Meet me later in the gymnasium, next to the dumbbells… you’ll know me, I got a hat.”
- Moe to Gladys Gale,“Mildew has a lovely student body.” “Your’s wouldn’t be so bad either if you took off about 20 pounds.”
- Beatrice Binn asking Larry, “Is it true that time and space are calculated by the direct ratio of interplanetary magnetism to solar radiation?” Immediately followed by Moe repeatedly telling her to sit down.
The scene in the class at Mildew College with The Boys and coeds signing the song makes for one of the most memorable Three Stooges moments. Music historians attribute the song to 19th-century composer Septimus Winner in 1875 originally titled the ‘Spelling Bee’.
Here’s a Sing-A-Long for Swinging The Alphabet from The Three Stooges Violent is the Word for Curly.
Curly suffered some scorching while strapped to the spit above an open flame.
The title was actually a parody of an RKO movie release in 1936 titled Valiant is the Word for Carrie.
Veteran Stooge player Bud Jamison plays The Boys’ boss at the Acme Gas Station opening scene.
The introductory theme music blends from the credits into the body of the film as the college girls play ball. This technique will be used again for several more films.
Punch Drunks Released July 13, 1934
Cast: Larry, Moe & Curly. Credited Cast: Dorothy Granger. The uncredited cast included: Al Hill, Arthur Houseman, Casey Columbo, Larry McGrath, William Butcher and Billy Bletcher. Directed by Lou Breslow. Screenplay by Jack Cluett. Story by: Jerry Howard, Larry Fine, and Moe Howard.
Short Take: This script for Punch Drunks was written by the Stooges, credited as “Jerry Howard, Larry Fine, and Moe Howard.”
Punch Drunks is the only Stooges short to be included in The Library of Congress National Film Registry. In 2002 when the film was added, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said: “ Taken together, the 350 films in the National Film Registry represent a stunning range of American filmmaking…all deserving recognition, preservation, and access by future generations”.
Another distinctive aspect of the short is that The Boys are united early in the film although they start out as characters with no real association: Moe as a fight manager, Curly as a waiter and Larry as a violinist. The seamless blending of these diverse characters shows how well The Boys could integrate the acting and in this case, the writing.
While the short has historic significance, the film gives us many memorable scenes, for example, The use of the song “Pop Goes The Weasel.” Not only is it Curly’s (K.O. Stradivarius) purpose for transforming into a fighting machine but we all cheer when Larry saves the day after his violin is broken and he must find an alternate source for the song. Driving a truck with a radio mounted on it through the wall of the boxing arena, Larry, and The Three Stooges triumph.
Dorothy Granger was a costar in Punch Drunks. She was an original member of the Screen Actors Guild. At Columbia, she also worked in several Joe DeRita solos. She retired in 1961 with over 250 screen credits.
Granger also was in MGM’s 1934 Roast Beef And Movies, with Curly, billed as Jerry Howard, making a very rare solo appearance.
- A Pro or No? There has always been the impression that Curly actually fought a professional boxer in Punch Drunks. No. The fighter in the short, Killer Kilduff, was portrayed by actor Al Hill whose long career spanned the silent era to TV with over 300 listed appearances in films and TV shows.
I’ll Never Heil Again Released July 11, 1941
“The characters in this picture are all fictitious. Anyone resembling them is better off dead.”
Cast: Larry, Moe & Curly. None of the supporting cast was credited but it contained some of the most popular and important supporting players including Vernon Dent, Mary Ainslee, Bud Jamison, Lynton Brent, Cy Schindell, Johnny Kascier, Jack ‘Tiny’ Lipson, Duncan Renaldo, Don Barclay, Bert Young, Robert ‘Bobby’ Burns and Al Thompson. Produced and directed by Jules White. Story and Screenplay by Felix Adler and Clyde Bruckman.
Short Take: This short is a sequel to the prior year’s You Nazty Spy. Here The Boys continue their satire of Hitler and his henchmen and many of the references in this short relate to real world war and political activities of the prior months. Although the slapstick and verbal repartee is not as thickly packed as the previous year’s You Nazty Spy!, this virtual sequel is the most daring and globally significant of any Stooge film. Its humor is delivered in a package bordering gas close to genuine political satire as Germany to Poloan or Mornonica to Pushover, for it satirizes specifically the developments of the previous months.
There are also some allegorical elements in this short: Hitler trying to be like Napoleon – who moves around in the painting on the wall – and at the end with the shattering of the globe – representing the world Hailstone (Hitler) wants to possess – he utters “you shattered my world.”
This is not trivial: Larry, Moe & Curly are portraying evil characters as our some of their cohorts. So the pointed barbs start right in the film’s opening credit sequence that has this statement: “The characters in this picture are all fictitious. Anyone resembling them is better off dead.”
In this clip, diplomacy goes out the window and the summit literally turns into a fight for the world!
- In this short, there is the addition of the armbands worn by Moe and Curly that were not in You Nazty Spy and there is a new third henchman along with Ixnay & Amscray: Umpchay played by Bud Jamison.
- It is true that after the release of You Nazty Spy in 1940, Adolf Hitler did add The Boys to his personal death list.
- The title parodies the song title “I’ll Never Smile Again” written by Ruth Lowe in 1940.
- When Curly kicks the globe, it hits the camera just before the scene cuts.
- I’ll Never Heil Again has a low Stooge Mayhem quotient with only 3 slaps and 1 eye poke.