Fun and informative Three Stooges articles
Wishing you and yours a Holiday filled with peace and laughter.
Fun and informative Three Stooges articles
By Dan Barry,
Disparage the Three Stooges if you must, you cineaste. Dismiss their films with a weary wave of your smoldering Gauloise. But give them this: Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp inhabited a world entirely their own, a surreal place where cream pies could fly, and hammer blows to the head never drew blood.
The Stooges maintained their safely violent universe for several decades, beginning with movie-house comedy shorts in the 1930s and continuing deep into the television era. But their Stoogeland gradually slipped away, like some sunken, knucklehead Atlantis — that is, until the Farrelly brothers resurrected it this week with their homage of a film, “The Three Stooges.”
But what about all the menacing mugs who sat down on sizzling waffle irons? And all the sassy girlfriends who pulled at Larry’s hair as though it were taffy? And all the others who inhabited this black-and-white madhouse, delivering and receiving blow after blow, going home, and coming back in the morning to do it again? Sometimes their best lines went no further than: “Hey you! Get back here!” Or, “Why, I oughta.”
In other words: What about the stooges to The Stooges?
Playing dames and gangsters, judges and jurors, cops and nurses and shopkeepers and mad scientists, the little-known denizens of Columbia Pictures were valued less for their command of the Shakespearean canon than for their ability to do a spit take. I’d love to hear your King Henry at Agincourt someday. Really. But for this scene, when Moe hits you on the head with the wrench, you’re going to cross your eyes, buckle your knees and collapse out of the frame.
These character actors toiled for decades in cheap two-reel shorts, which lasted 15 to 18 minutes. And just as these movie-house fillers were in service to the main feature, these actors were in service to Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Shemp Howard, who stepped in to help his younger brothers when illness forced Curly to retire in 1946.
(Yes, we know about the later, Joe Besser years; send your letters of outrage to Cahiers du Cinéma magazine, Paris, France.)
No matter that stout Vernon Dent, for example, had appeared early on as a reliable cast member in the silent film comedies of the Mack Sennett studio. Here he was now, performing the comic “slow burn” in dozens of Stooges shorts: the “laughing party guest” in “Three Little Sew and Sews” (1939); “Balbo the Magician” in “Loco Boy Makes Good” (1942); King Arthur in “Squareheads of the Round Table” (1948).
No matter that statuesque Christine McIntyre had both beauty and a classically trained voice. Here she was now, putting her musical talents to use by singing “Voice of Spring” in “Micro-Phonies” (1945). In 1950 alone she appeared in six Stooges two-reelers, none of which will ever be listed beside “Citizen Kane”: “Hugs and Mugs.” “Dopey Dicks.” “Three Hams on Rye.”
McIntyre, of Nogales, Ariz., probably did not come to Los Angeles with hopes of one day appearing in “Three Pests in a Mess” (1945). But, according to David J. Hogan, author of “Three Stooges FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Eye-Poking, Face-Slapping, Head-Thumping Geniuses” (Applause, 2011), she and the other stooges to the Stooges were lucky to have any film work, considering the competitive complication that was Golden Age Hollywood.
“There was only so much room for character players in Hollywood at any given time,” Mr. Hogan said. “And there was also a stigma if you worked in two-reelers. It was very much a caste system.”
He said that many of these supporting actors, lunch-pail thespians, also worked in other two-reel comedies that are mostly forgotten now. (When was the last time anyone mentioned the Columbia shorts of Vera Vague or Andy Clyde?) But in the circumscribed Stoogian universe, at least, these chosen few live on, albeit with pie on their faces.
This is thanks, in large part, to an avid, almost entirely male fanbase whose members have cataloged and deconstructed every Stooge moment committed to film. Mr. Hogan, for example, analyzes each of the 190 Stooges shorts — from “Woman Haters” (1934) to “Sappy Bull Fighters” (1959) — with a scholarly precision worthy of Truffaut.
So they who might be forgotten are remembered. Here’s to Tiny Brauer, a dependable gangster, and Bud Jamison, a reliable detective, and Symona Boniface, a perfect society matron, and Connie Cezan, a go-to gold digger with silver-dollar eyes.
Here’s to Emil Sitka, the lanky, talented actor who was so ubiquitous in Stoogeland that he was sometimes called the “Fourth Stooge.” His proudest hour came in “Brideless Groom” (1947), when he played a flustered justice of the peace who says, over and over again, “Hold hands, you lovebirds” — even after getting crowned with a birdcage during the requisite mayhem.
His tombstone, by the way, includes the inscription “Hold Hands, You Lovebirds.”
And, finally, here’s to Joe Palma. In 1955 Shemp Howard died, suddenly, while the Stooges were still under contract to Columbia for a few more shorts. The solution: Recycle some stock footage with a few new scenes that featured Moe, Larry — and Joe Palma, dressed up as Shemp but appearing only from the back or the side.
You might say that Palma’s work in, say, “Rumpus in the Harem” (1956), is a tribute to all the hard-working secondary actors who inhabited the strange world that was Stoogeland. This is because he doesn’t simply play Shemp. He was Shemp.
Enjoy the slideshow of The Boys in action and take note of the handy home improvement tips from Larry, Moe and Curly (and Shemp) to get all your projects done poifectly!
Some of our favorite Three Stooges film shorts with a DIY remodeling theme:
1. Tassels In The Air – A coat of fresh paint freshens up everything… even Larry.
2. Monkey Businessmen – It’s shocking what a little re-wiring can do.
3. A Plumbing We Will Go – Who needs a plumber when you have Curly. If the bathtub still doesn’t’ work, you have a nice water feature in your home.
4. Spooks – Don’t be spooked to revamp an old Shemp.
5. Rip, Sew, Stitch – Once you’ve handled all the beautification around the house, you’ll still have time for ironing.
6. Cash and Carry – Need a new addition to the house for those holiday guests. Larry can demo a wall in nothing flat. Just be sure there is extra wallpaper.
7. Loco Boy Makes Good – Don’t forget to air out the rugs. A little fresh air will even the temper.
Now a piece of Americana pop culture, the ‘Slowly I Turned’ routine evolved from a vaudeville sketch. It has been used by The Three Stooges in Gents Without Cents (Niagara Falls), by Abbott and Costello and many others. Even Lucille Ball tipped her at on an episode of the I Love Lucy show.
When we have more time, we’ll share our research and thoughts, but in the meantime here’s what wiki says: The routine features a man recounting the day he took his revenge on his enemy – and becoming so engrossed in his own tale that he attacks the innocent listener to whom he is speaking. The attacker comes to his senses, only to go berserk again when the listener says something that
“The routine features a man recounting the day he took his revenge on his enemy – and becoming so engrossed in his own tale that he attacks the innocent listener to whom he is speaking. The attacker comes to his senses, only to go berserk again when the listener says something that triggers the old memory again.
Typically, the routine has two characters meeting for the first time, with one of them becoming highly agitated over the utterance of particular words. Names and cities (such as Niagara Falls) have been used as the trigger, which then sends the unbalanced person into a state of mania; the implication is that the words have an unpleasant association in the character’s past. While the other character merely acts bewildered, the crazed character relives the incident, uttering the words, “Slowly I turned…step by step…inch by inch…,” as he approaches the stunned onlooker. Reacting as if this stranger is the object of his rage, the angry character begins hitting or strangling him, until the screams of the victim shake him out of his delusion. The character then apologizes, admitting his irrational reaction to the mention of those certain words. This follows with the victim innocently repeating the words, sparking the insane reaction all over again. This pattern is repeated in various forms, sometimes with the entrance of a third actor, uninformed as to the situation. This third person predictably ends up mentioning the words and setting off the manic character, but with the twist that the second character, not this new third person, is still the recipient of the violence.
Abbott and Costello performed the “Pokomoko” version in their 1944 film Lost in a Harem, and later did a “Niagara Falls” version for their early ’50s television show, with Sidney Fields, who played many characters, as the delusional man beating Costello while they were both locked in a jail cell. The television version ended with Costello’s troublesome lawyer, also played by Fields, entering the scene. Costello asks for the lawyer to take the case of the storytelling stranger, and the lawyer says, “Help him out? I don’t know anything about him! What’s his name? Where is he from?” Costello whispers in the Fields’ ear, to which he responds aloud, “Niagara Falls?” and then he is immediately attacked. Another variation on the Abbott and Costello Show was the Susquehanna Hat Company/Bagel Street routine, also done as the Floogle Street routine.
The Three Stooges performed the sketch (as part of the show they put on within the movie, as they play performers) in Gents Without Cents, a 1944 short. In their version, the final punchline is that the third character to arrive (played by Larry) is, in fact, the object of the hate of the storyteller (played by Moe). However, even though Curly (who has just been repeatedly beaten up by Moe) eggs him on, Moe refuses to attack Larry and instead they make peace. Curly then says “Niagara Falls” and both Moe and Larry chase him off the stage.
The routine also appears in episode 19, “The Ballet” of season 1 of I Love Lucy, with Lucy playing the stranger with a kind face and a clown playing the storyteller, with the trigger word “Martha.” Lucille Ball later performed the “Martha” version on CBS Opening Night in 1963, now playing the vagabond storyteller herself, with Phil Silvers as the stranger with the kind face.
Danny Thomas and Joey Faye reprised the routine in Season 8, episode 20 (“Good Old Burlesque”) of the Danny Thomas Show. Steve Martin’s character Rigby Reardon had a similar trigger, the words “cleaning woman”, in his film noir homage Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.
Milton Berle’s performance of this routine was played on the Dr. Demento radio show several times using the trigger word “Buffalo”.
The Boys are always prepared for any emergency with a healthy dose of laughter. But we can always use the caring touch and comedic timing of a good nurse. In honor of #EmergencyNursesDay and #EmergencyNursesWeek, we celebrate the many nurses of The Three Stooges shorts.
Blanche Payson appeared in nearly 160 films between 1916 and 1946. At 6 foot 2 inches, she towered over both men and women co-stars in the many slapstick comedies in which she appeared, as a foil for such comedians as The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and similar popular acts of the time. She often played brutal and dominant women, such as Oliver Hardy’s wife in Helpmates (1932) or Bobby Hutchins’ stepmother in the Our Gang comedy Dogs Is Dogs (1931). She was born in Santa Barbara, CA and died in Hollywood in 1981. Blanche also appeared in Pop Goes The Easel, Hoi Polloi, A Pain In The Pullman, Slippery Silks, Dizzy Doctors, CooKoo Cavaliers, and An Ache in Every Stake.
Poppy Wilde appeared in over 40 films including The Three Stooges shorts Hoi Polloi and All The World’s A Stooge.
Marjorie Kane appeared in several other Stooge shorts including How High is Up, No Census, No Feeling, CooKoo Cavaliers and Three Smart Saps. She appeared in 68 films between 1929 and 1951, occasionally under the name Babe Kane.
Who could forget Jeanie Roberts as the hiccuping nurse in Men In Black? This was Ms. Roberts only appearance in a Stooge short, but it was a memorable one. She appeared in approximately a dozen other films most as uncredited. In December 1936, she married Henry Moeller, Jr., a mortician. She drove from Santa Monica to San Bernardino in an undertaker’s ambulance to wed Henry. Roberts was last married to W. Gordon Garnett, a successful surgeon, sometime around 1960. As Gini Roberts Garnett, she died April 12, 1971, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles. She is inturned at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.
A sizeable cast of nurses including Ella McKenzie, Gertrude Messenger, Elaine Waters, and Harlene Wood.
Elaine Waters appeared in 12 Three Stooges short films including Dizzy Doctors, Ants In The Pantry, Movie Maniacs, A Pain In The Pullman, False Alarms, Whoops, I’m an Indian, Slippery Silks, Grips, Grunts and Groans, 3 Dumb Clucks, Goofs and Saddles, Three Little Sew and Sews, and Nutty But Nice.
Gertrude Messenger also appeared in Whoops, I’m An Indian and Slippery Silks. She starred in a total of 52 films in her career, 11 of which were westerns, for which she was best known.
Another large and lovable cast including nurses and adorable dogs. Dorothy Moore, Ethelreda Leopold, Robin Raymond, Beatrice Blinn, Beatrice Curtis.
Dorothy Moore was also in Oily To Bed, Oily to Rise.
Ethelreda Leopold Started in film as a Busby Berkely dancing girl at Warner Brothers. Worked up to the early 1990s, even appearing on an episode of Married With Children. She was in a number of Shemp solo shorts and with The Boys in Half-Shot Shooters, A Pain in The Pullman, Back To The woods, Goofs and Saddles, Wee Wee Monsieur, Nutty But Nice, All The Worlds’ A Stooge, Time Out for Rhythm, In The Sweet Pie and Pie, G.I. Wanna Go Home and Pest Man Wins.
Robin Raymond also appeared in Three Sappy People.
Beatrice Blinn has an impressive resume appearing in many popular films during her career from 1916 to 1944. she is known for Golden Boy (1939), Nothing But Pleasure (1940) and Art Trouble with Shemp (1934). She was married to Crane Wilbur. She died on March 31, 1979 in Oceanside, CA. She appeared in a number of Three Stooges shorts: False Alarms, Whoops, I’m An Indian, Slippery Silks, Termites of 1938, Violent Is the Word For Curly, Calling All Curs, and Three Sappy People.
Beatrice Curtis was also seen in False Alarms, Three Sappy People, Slippery Slicks, and the adorable bespectacled colonial ingenue in Back To The Woods.
“Somebody give me a pie!” Mary Ainslee who spoke that famous line from In The Sweet Pie and Pie, was also featured in I’ll Never Heil Again, Hokus Pokus, Pet Man Wins, He Cooked His Goose, and Flagpole Jitters. She may have been the only one of our nurses to appear in a Stooge short with Joe Besser; Triple Crossed. In the mid-1980s, she suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. She died on November 1, 1991.
Evelyn Young was the only nurse in this Stooge escapade. She was also unforgettable as the beautiful woman in a turban in the doctor’s waiting room who is the object of Curly’s affection as he acts like a dog in From Nurse To Worse. She also appeared in Boobs In Arms and No Census No Feeling.
Enter Nurse Shapely. Jean Willes was a knock-out. Gorgeous and in her only short with Curly she belted him a good one. Willes appeared in solo films with Shemp and Curly Joe DeRita as well as The Stooges’ A Snitch In Time, Don’t Throw That Knife, Gypped In The Penthouse, and Hula-La-La. Willes appeared in approximately 65 films in her 38-year career. She was a favorite of director Edward Bernds. She made the transition to television easily appearing in dozens of series in varied roles and genre including Perry Mason, The Beverly Hillbillies, McHale’s Navy and Kojak. Willes portrayed Belle Starr opposite James Garner in a 1959 episode of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series Maverick entitled “Full House,” in which Joel Grey played Billy the Kid.
Thanks to all the nurses out there! We don’t know what we would do without them.
The Halloween season is the time to spook and delight with things that go nyuk in the night. The Boys have tricks and treats in store for us with these classic short films where they tangle with ghosts, goblins, gorillas, mummies, werewolves and other sorts of scary characters.
Dizzy Doctors (1937): The Stooges are lazy good-for-nothing husbands at home, inept salesman in the street, and misfit fugitives in a hospital. They land a job as salesmen selling a snake oil called “Brighto.” After harassing the citizens and even ruining a man’s auto paint job, they make their way into the Los Arms Hospital and try their hand at selling Brighto to the patients. They enter the Superintendant’s office to make a sale, but the Super is the same man whose car’s paint job was ruined. Maybe not so scary, but the scene where they hijack the Hospital PA system gives us a great bit with a trio of skulls.
Trivia: This is the first short where all three of The Boys are married. (That can be scary for some people.)
Three Missing Links (1938): The Stooges are janitors, cleaning up the office of movie producer B. O. Botswaddle. After botching up, they are fired. When Curly impersonates a chicken with its head cut off, Botswaddle hires him (and the other Stooges) for his new movie. The crew heads off to the jungle to film the picture, with Curly as a gorilla. But then, a real gorilla appears and confusion reigns.
Trivia: Some often used Stooge slapstick firsts: the nose bonks Moe delivers in the opening sequence, and two Stooges opening the door to a beast after the third stooge has knocked but runs away in fear.
We Want Our Mummy (1939): The Stooges are detectives hired by a museum curator to find the kidnapped Professor Tuttle and the mummy of King Rutentuten. The boys hail a taxi at the cost of $2,198.55 to Cairo. When they find the tomb, the boys encounter crooks who are also after the mummy. The mummy they thought was Rutentuten was really his wife, Queen HotsyTotsy. It turns out King Rutentuten was a dwarf. Enjoy an extended clip from We Want Our Mummy.
Trivia: Notable Firsts – Curly’s metallic sounding teeth chatter and Curly shaking water off like a dog.
Spook Louder (1943): The short opens with Prof. J. O. Dunkfeather telling a reporter how he solved a mysterious case. The scene fades to the Stooges, three door-to-door peddlers selling their “Miracle Reducing Machine.” After several rejections, they come across the home of Mr. Graves, a mad scientist who has invented a new death ray (“It’ll kill millions!”). Graves mistakes the Stooges for his new caretakers and leaves them to guard his home while he is in Washington. Three spies are out to steal Graves’ plans and disguise themselves in Halloween costumes to scare the Stooges away. Meanwhile, an unseen culprit roams the house, hurling pies at everyone. Enjoy an extended clip from Spook Louder.
Trivia: Notable first – Moe’s hair standing on end.
Idle Roomers (1944): Bellhops at the Hotel Snazzy Plaza, Moe, Larry & Curly encounter the Leanders, husband & wife vaudeville performers who’ve smuggled their prize attraction into the hotel… Lupe the Wolf Man. The beast is tame unless it hears music, which makes him go berserk. Accidentally set loose when the Stooges clean the guests’ room, Curly tries to calm him with his trombone (“music hath charm”), sending the wolfman on a rampage with the boys as his target.
Trivia: The film marks the debut of Christine McIntyre who would go on to appear in nearly two dozen Stooge shorts.
If A Body Meets A Body (1945): Moe reads in the newspaper that Curly is the missing heir to his rich uncle Bob O. Link’s estate. The Stooges go to the mansion, only to find out that Prof. Bob O. Link didn’t die, he was murdered! And both his body and the will are missing. The boys have to spend the night in the spooky old haunted house and solve the mystery.
Trivia: The premiere of a new, slower rendition of “Three Blind Mice” as the Stooges’ theme music, arranged by John Leipold and Nico Grigor, which will be used into 1948.
A Bird in The Head (1946): Moe, Larry and Curly are three paperhangers who are out of a job after they wreck Mr. Beedle’s apartment, but Prof. Panzer offers to take care of them for the rest of their lives. He wants to transplant Curly’s brain into Igor, his gorilla!
Trivia: The film was shot April 9-13, 1945, but shooting was suspended on April 12 out of respect for the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Ghost Talks (1949): The Stooges are moving men sent to a spooky old mansion on a rainy night to move some old furniture, including a suit of armor. The armor objects to leaving, however, as it is inhabited by the spirit of Peeping Tom the tailor, who was cursed when he saw Lady Godiva ride by centuries ago. Intent on moving Tom, the boys find themselves trapped in the house with animated skeletons and a flying skull. Enjoy an extended clip from The Ghost Talks.
Trivia: Two years earlier, writer, Felix Adler, and director, Jules White teamed on Sing a Song of Six Pants and All Gummed Up.
Scotched In Scotland (1954): A remake with footage from Hot Scots. Detective school Dean Gonga (a pun reference to Rudyard Kipling’s Gunga Din) sends his bumbling graduates Moe, Larry & Shemp to Glenheather Castle in Scotland, to investigate the disappearance of valuable artifacts. Remake with footage from The Hot Scots.
Trivia: Notable first – Moe mesmerizing Shemp and Larry by drawing his fists down and up in front of their faces and then giving them each a bonk.
Creeps (1956) – A remake with footage from The Ghost Talks. Telling their sons a bedtime story, the Stooges weave a tall tale of themselves as moving men sent to a spooky old mansion on a rainy night to move some old furniture, including a suit of armor. The armor objects to leaving, however, as it is inhabited by the spirit of Sir Tom. Vowing to kill the Stooges if they try to remove him, the boys are soon on the run from the sword-wielding Tom.
Trivia: The storytelling convention where the film begins and ends with The Boys as babies was added by Director, Jules White to add cohesion in the exposition which was lacking in the original version of The Ghost Talks.
One of the most recognizable pieces of dialog in the entire Three Stooges body of work is ‘Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr, Howard!’ from the short Men In Black; which was released September 28th, in 1934.
The short was nominated for an Academy Award, the first of many awards and recognition that would come their way for their work. Maybe they’re smiling in the picture because they just got word of their nomination! Nuyk! Nyuk! Nyuk!
Speaking of Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!, we get the first from Curly in this short. He also lets out a string of over 40 Woob! Woob! Woobs! at the end of the film as they ride the gurney. Of course the most famous dialog from the short is the hospital speaker all through the short blaring ‘Calling Dr. Howard! Dr. Fine! Dr. Howard!’ Then there is The Boys’ ‘oath’ that would become a Three Stooges iconic saying: ‘For Duty and Humanity!’
The movie posters listed the cast as Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Jerry Howard, along with Jeannie Roberts. She was the ‘hiccupping’ nurse. The film credit screen, however, reads Moe, Larry & Curley. This was Jeannie’s first film. She made a dozen more films and retired in 1937.
Phyllis Crane played the iconic character Anna Conda in this short. Her work with The Three Stooges was limited – only a total of seven shorts – but they were memorable: She was Molly Gray, alongside Lucille Ball, in Three Little Pigskins; she was in Pop Goes The Easel, the only short with Moe’s daughter Joan and Larry’s daughter Phyllis (as the two little girls playing hopscotch; Uncivil Warriors, one of The Boys great period pieces; Hoi Polloi, perhaps their quintessential short poking fun at the rich; Ants In The Pantry with one of the craziest dance scenes in all of the shorts and she was the girl kissed by Curly in A Pain In The Pullman.
By The By…The Los Arms Hospital in Men In Black was actually the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles where Moe’s daughter Joan gave birth to Moe’s grandchildren.
The Three Stooges had 18 of their Columbia shorts released in September. We are featuring six that feature Shemp since it is Shemptember! Of course, Larry & Moe were in these shorts with Shemp along with several key supporting players.
By The By…We’re doing 6 of the 18. If we were an MLB player our batting average would be .333 which is all-star calib -Just like The Three Stooges!
Brideless Groom Released September 11, 1947.
“Hold hands you love birds!”
Cast: besides Larry, Moe & Shemp – included Christine McIntyre, Emil Sitka, Dee Green, Nancy Saunders, Virginia Hunter, Judy Malcolm and Doris Colleen. This was one of several shorts that were made by the trio of Hugh McCollum (Producer), Edward Bernds (Director) and Clyde Bruckman (Screenplay & Story).
Short Take: Among the many funny scenes are Shemp tied up in the piano wires, Moe & Shemp twined in the phone booth, the brawl among the ladies that want to marry Shemp and what became one of the all-time classic bits: Shemp being pummeled by Christine McIntyre.
WATCH BRIDELESS GROOM IN ITS ENTIRETY RIGHT HERE:
Hot Stuff Released September 6, 1956.
Larry: “Wait a minute, I can’t lay carpets!”
Connie: “Why not?”
Larry: “I’m not that rugged!”
Cast: This is one of the ‘Shempless Shemp Shorts’ so we have Larry, Moe and Joe Palma as Shemp. The credited supporting players are Christine McIntyre, Emile Sitka, and Philip Van Zandt and the uncredited cast includes Gene Roth, Evelyn Lovequist, Harold Brauer and through stock footage, Vernon Dent and Jacques Mahoney. Jules White produced and directed Felix Adler’s screenplay from a story by Elwood Ullman, another trio on the production side that collaborated on several shorts.
Short Take: The story in Hot Stuff is a Cold War satire like 1949’s Fuelin’ Around with The Boys as secret agents trying to protect a scientist (Emil Sitka) and his new rocket fuel from falling into the hands of the leader of Anemia, who wants to dominate Urania. The carpet dialog referenced come about as that’s their cover – carpet layers.
Three Hams On Rye Released September 7, 1950.
Cast: While this short has a few pieces of dialog right out of Shakespeare, the aural high note is the serenade song in the short – ‘Jane’ – as it was written by Larry, Moe & Shemp.
Nanette Bordeaux, Christine McIntyre and Emil Sitka were the credited cast, along with The Boys of course, while the uncredited cast included Mildred Olsen, Judy Malcolm, Ned Glass and Blackie Whiteford.
Jules White produced and directed from a Clyde Bruckman story.
Short Take: While the plot revolves around the formula of The Boys portraying actors trying to break into show biz who encounter showgirls and do get a break into the big time, White and Bruckman crafted a sort that has each of the supporting characters advancing the comic narrative.
Merry Mavericks Released September 6, 1951.
“Hey, what does that apprehensive mean?” “It means you’re scared — with a college education.”
Cast: Don Harvey, Marion Martin and Paul Campbell were credited along with Larry, Moe and Shemp and the uncredited cast included Emil Sitka, Al Thompson, Blackie Whiteford and Victor Travers. The production group was a bit different as this was produced by Hugh McCollum with Edward Bernds directing and writing.
Short Take: The Boys are mistaken for lawmen in this short. They’re actually wanted – for vagrancy. This short has several classic Stooge elements: Mistaken identity; The Boys having to go up against a gang of outlaws to protect the mine payroll; a haunted residence and a big multi room chase scene. At the climax, it is Shemp that saves the day.
Malice In The Palace Released September 1, 1949.
“Well, there’s the door man.”
Cast: The rest of the cast included Johnny Kascier as the Emir of Schmow and Joe Palma as a palace guard. Jules White produced and directed from a Story and Screenplay by Felix Adler. Dent is credited as are George Lucas and Frank Lackteen, also bad guy characters Ghinna Rumma and Half Adollar.
Short Take: The opening scenes in the restaurant are wonderful Stooges antics with the cat and dog and the chaos that ensues around the food cooked by Larry with The Boys ending up on the floor with cat and dog that results in a classic group of Stooge slapstick.
The plot is to get back the Rootin-Tooton Diamond taken by the Emir.The climax takes place in the Emir’s palace with Larry, Moe and Shemp prevailing over the palace guards and the evil Emir. Of course, The Boys disguised as Santa Claus is a visual classic.
Wham-Bam-Slam Released September 1, 1955.
“Only fools are positive?” “Are you sure?” “I’m positive.”
Cast: Larry, Moe and Shemp starred and the cast that included Matt McHugh as Claude A. Quacker, Aly Lockwood, Dorie Rivier and Wanda Perry. The story from the production side is another of the many among Jules White, Felix Adler and Clyde Bruckman.
Short Take: The basic story line is Larry and Moe are going to take Shemp on a vacation as a cure for his nerves on the recommendation of Quacker. This short is an enhanced box comedy with most of the action taking place around the car The Boys – and their wives – are packing up for the trip.
Of course, they never quite make it with most of the mayhem centered around the car including Moe’s foot caught under the car while Larry and the baggage all fall from the car creating some mayhem and a mess; which actually leads to curing Shemp!
So, we’ll end on that note. Enjoy Shemptember!
The four shorts we selected to feature this month cover a 10 year period from 1935 to 1945. They include dogs, dancing, danger and a few dead bodies.
Hoi Polloi released August 29, 1935.
“It ain’t the dippin’. It’s the countin’ that’s got me!”
Cast & Crew: Directed by Del Lord. Story & Screenplay by Felix Adler. All the cast, except for Larry, Moe & Curly, were uncredited, including Bud Jamison, Phyllis Mitchell, Kathryn McHugh, James C. Morton and Blanche Payson.
Short Take: This is The Boys first foray into the world of high society, a place that is always hilarious when The Boys show up. In this Pygmalion inspired plot, two professors argue over which influence molds gentlemen. One claims environment is the keystone to social distinction, the other asserts that heredity is the backbone of social life. They pick on nearby trash men (The Stooges) to prove their theory. After spending months in training, Larry, Moe and Curly attend an elegant dinner party, ultimately disproving both professors’ theories.
Among the many memorable scenes in Hoi Polloi, the dance lesson is one of the most famous from all of the shorts with Geneva Mitchell giving a terrific performance as the dance instructor.
Calling All Curs, released August 25, 1939.
“I’m tryin’ to think but nothin’ happens.”
Cast & Crew: This is another short with only Larry, Moe & Curly credited. The uncredited cast included Lynton Brent, Cy Schindell, Ethelreda Leopold and Beatrice Blinn. Another cast member as a nurse is Beatrice Curtis, remembered mostly as Charity from the short Back To The Woods. Jules White directed the short and also received an Associate Producer credit. The screenplay was by Elwood Ullman & Searle Kramer with the story by Then Gooden.
Short Take: The Stooges are veterinarians treating a rich lady’s dog Garcon. Two men, posing as reporters, come to check out the Stooges’ clinic. They are really dognappers who capture Garcon and hold him for a $2000 ransom. The Stooges then search for Garcon and arrive at the home of the dognappers for a showdown.
Many shorts gave us a memorable gag or line and in Calling All Curs we get the first use of this piece of dialog from Curly: “I’m tryin’ to think but nothin’ happens.” This line has become immortalized in Stooge lore. What we need to recall is the great set up delivered by Moe to Curly: “Start thinkin’, if possible.”
Cury must have been in dog heaven during this scene.
From Nurse To Worse released August 23, 1940
“This is my favorite dollar. I raised it from a cent!”
Cast & Crew: Vernon Dent, Dudley Dickerson, Lynton Brent, John Tyrell, Dorothy Appleby, Marjorie Kane, Joe Palma, Al Thompson, Blanche Payson, Johnny Kascier and Ned Glass were among the cast that also included Al Seymour, Poppie Wilde, Charles Phillips, Bert Young and Charles Doherty. Directed by Jules White from a screenplay by Clyde Bruckman and a story by Charles L. Kimball.
Short Take: The Stooges’ friend Jerry informs them of a great money-making scam: buy insurance, go to the insurance doctor and claim insanity, and be paid $500 a month for the rest of their lives. Eager for easy money, they take a policy out on Curly and then proceed to bring him into the insurance doctor, Dr. D. Lerious’s office with Curly masquerading as a dog. Curly’s performance is so convincing that the alarmed doctor demands that Curly be prepared for “cerebrum decapitation.” And, the chase begins.
If A Body Meets A Body released on August 30, 1945
“If you so much as breathe, I’ll tear your tonsils out and tie it around your neck for a bowtie!”
Cast & Crew: Larry, Moe & Curly and Ted Lorch and Fred Kelsey also credited. Leo Palma, Victor Travers, Al Thompson and John Tyrell performed in uncredited roles as did Judy Malcolm and Dorothy Vernon. Jules White produced and directed with the screen play by his brother Jack White forum a story by Gil Pratt.
Short Take: The Boys have been involved in mysteries in several prior shorts but this is their first murder mystery as the centerpiece of the short. categorized as a ‘thunderstorm mystery’, a type of film popular since the 1930’s that has story weather, secret passageways, hidden bodies and usually a guilty butler.
Moe reads in the newspaper that Curly is the missing heir to his rich uncle Bob O. Link’s estate. The Stooges go to the mansion, only to find out that Prof. Bob O. Link didn’t die, he was murdered! And both his body and the will are missing. The Boys have to spend the night in the spooky old house and solve the mystery. Danger lurks behind every corner. Eventually, the butler and the maid are unmasked as the killers, the body of Curly’s rich uncle and the will are found so Curly finally inherit a whopping Sixty-seven cents!
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:
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.
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!