Fun and informative Three Stooges articles
The second half of June brings us singing and dancing, Gorillas and pies in 3-D, A shocking set of gags, Some Stooges’ firsts, Senorita Rita, and Curly flirting on a train.
Time Out for Rhythm Released June 5, 1941 – Even though this is a feature film (74.75 min.) we’ll give it a short take.
“The Raja will now take the razor sharp knives and throw them at random!” “Are you Random?” “No, I’m not Random!.”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Curly. Credited Cast: Rudy Vallee (Danny Collins), Richard Lane (Mike Armstrong), Rosemary Lane (Frances Lewis), Allen Jenkins (Off-Beat Davis), Ann Miller (Kitty Brown), Produced & Directed by Sidney Salkow. Screenplay by Bert Granet & Edmund L. Hartmann, Story by Irving Starr, Music by Sol Chapman.
Short Take: In this 1941 musical comedy feature film, Moe, Larry and Curly costar as out-of-work actors trying to find jobs thru Danny’s and Mike’s agency. They perform the “Maharaja” routine, the “Melodrama” sketch, disguise themselves as inept Western Union messengers to invade the agency, and masquerade as gangsters to trick Frances. The film’s musical finale begins with the Stooges and ‘Brenda & Cobina’ performing a hilarious rhumba number, with Curly costumed as Carmen Miranda.
- An early showcase for Ann Miller’s dancing talent, she closes the film with an energetic tap performance, as good as anything she later became famous for at MGM.
- Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) makes a brief appearance in his only Three Stooges short.
- Rudy Valle was one of the first modern pop stars.
- The first performance of the famous “Maharaja” routine which became a staple in The Boys TV guest appearances.
Enjoy one of the original trailers for the feature.
Spooks Released June 15, 1953
“Oh, a Be-bopper! Dig that crazy bopper name, eeb eeb eeb… Cool man, real George! Give me some skin! Give me some skin!”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Shemp. Credited Cast: Frank Mitchell (George B. Bopper), Norma Randal (Bea Bopper), Phil Van Zandt (Dr. Jekyll), Tom Kennedy (Mr. Hyde, Steve Calvert (Gorilla). Produced & Directed by Jules White, Story & Screenplay by Felix Adler.
Short Take: The Stooges are private detectives who take a case to find a man’s missing daughter. Dressing as “door-to-door” pie salesmen, they investigate the neighborhood where she went missing and come across a deserted old house. They’re locked in and discover a mad scientist and his hatchet man, who are planning to transplant the girl’s brain into a gorilla. Eye gouges, the bat attack, a scary gorilla, the pen thrown at Shemp’s nose all in glorious 3-D. The short ends with a three-dimensional pie fight.
- The short was shot in 3-D and released just months after United Artists released the first 3-D feature film, Bwana Devil.
- Pardon My Backfire released in August of the same year was also shot in 3-D
- Steve Calvert was a prolific gorilla suit performer in many Hollywood films and television shows from the late 1940s through the 1950s.
Dig that crazy 3-D opening! Even without the 3-D glasses, it’s pretty cool.
Monkey Businessmen Released June 20, 1946
“What’d you give him?” “Ether.” “Ether?” “Yeah. Ether the bottle or the hammer.”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Curly. Credited Cast: Fred Kelsey (Smiling Sam McGann), Kenneth MacDonald (Dr. Mallard), Jean Willes (Nurse Shapely), Snub Pollard (Mr. Gimble), Cy Schindell (Clarence), Wade Crosby (George), Rocky Wood (Roland). Produced by Hugh McCollum, Directed by Edwards Bernds, Story & Screenplay by Edward Bernds.
Short Take: The Stooges are electricians who are fired after messing up a job. They decide to go away for a vacation and check into Doc Mallard’s Rest Home and Clinic. It’s not long before they discover that Doc Mallard is a quack, and his clinic is designed to cheat patients of their money. The boys try to escape, and Mallard’s cure for that is to stop them by any means necessary. Filming took place after the annual seven-month production hiatus which benefits the short with a revitalized Stooge energy. And, this is Edward Bernds most gag-filled script yet. He offers two plot-related electrical jokes, sanitarium jokes, and plenty of fast-paced puns.
Nurse: Whadya think you’re doin?
Moe: We’re breathin’!
Nurse: Well, cut it out. It ain’t on the schedule.
- This is the first time a non-Stooge (George) understands Moe’s patented medical double-talk (tracto-hobo-lactometer, and hamma-deepa-seena-fern.
- This is Kenneth MacDonald’s first Stooge role. He would go on to appear in 18 Three Stooges short films.
- This is the first short film with the MCMXLVI copyright.
- The first title screen from this point on no longer has the comedy mask.
This clip from Monkey Businessmen is a great example of the pace of gags in the short. And, unfortuneatley, Curly’s failing health. But he still has it.
Rumpus in The Harem Released June 21, 1956
“P.S. – If you don’t get this note, let me know and I’ll write you another.”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Shemp. Credited Cast: Vernon Dent (Hassen Ben Sobar), George J. Lewis (Ghinna Rumma), Produced & Directed by Jules White, Screenplay by Jack White, Story by Felix Adler.
Short Take: The Stooges discover that their girls will be sold into slavery if they don’t come up with money within a few days. Working at their restaurant, trying to figure a way to save their sweethearts, opportunity knocks at the door. They discover there’s a big reward for recovering the recently stolen Rootin-Tootin Diamond. The thief: The Emir of Shmow. So they disguise as Santa Clauses and invade the Emir of Shmow’s palace to recover the diamond. Shemp passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack on November 22, 1955, on his way home from a Hollywood boxing match with friends. Despite the sudden and unexpected loss of Shemp, Moe and Larry were required by contract to complete four more films in 1956. Mechanisms were used including stock footage and the use of a ‘fake Shemp.’
- This was the first of the four “phony Shemp” shorts and shows the most new footage with Joe Palma.
- 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.
There is a notable absence of Shemp in this clip from Rumpus in the Harem.
A Pain in The Pullman Released June 27, 1936
“I’m Paul Pain, the heartthrob of millions!” “What’s a heartthrob?” “A pain in the neck!”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Curly. Credited Cast: Bud Jamison (Johnson), James C. Morton (Paul Pain). Written & Directed by Preston Black (Jack White), Associate Producer Jules White.
Short Take: The Stooges are out-of-work hoofers with a pet monkey act who get a chance at a show if they can make it to the train on time. Running out on their landlady and the back rent, the boys board the train. It doesn’t take long before their monkey gets loose and wreaks havoc on the train, becoming a pain in the neck for Mr. Johnson, the show’s manager, and the show’s star, Paul Pain.
- The iconic line: “Wake up and go to sleep!” This is where a Stooge wakes up another Stooge and says “Wake up and go to sleep!” Also used in: Three Missing Links, If A body Meets A Body, Hold That Lion!, I’m a Monkey’s Uncle and Stone Age Romeos.
- Some Stooge firsts: Curly flirting by a hand wave under the chin, an animal tail protruding through a curtain, eating a shell and throwing away the edible part, putting one Stooge’s leg inside another Stooge’s clothes, one Stooge getting an elbow in the face from another, and cooking a shoe.
- The Three Stooges play The Three Stooges in a Pain in The Pullman.
- James C. Morton appeared in 20 Stooge shorts.
- Character actor, Al Thompson (Sidewalk Pedestrian) appeared in 56 Stooge shorts.
Saved By The Belle Released June 30, 1939
“I’ll give them commissions in the Army.” “Commissions?! Not me, straight salary or nuthin’!”
Cast & Crew: Stars Larry, Moe & Curly. Credited Cast: LeRoy Mason (Joe Singapore), Carmen LaRoux (Senorita Rita). Directed by Charley Chase, Story by Searle Kramer and Elwood Ullman.
Short Take: The Stooges are fur salesman trying to sell coats in a Central American country prone to frequent earthquakes. Desperate to raise the funds to pay for their hotel bill, the boys start succeeding by selling pillows as shock absorbers, but get arrested and are suspected of being spies out to kill the country’s president. A tale of fortune, it’s a story of three men who frequently run into the most extreme cases of good and bad luck. Such previous films as Cash and Carry and Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb used luck and fortune themes. The Belle, played by Carmen LaRoux (Senorita Rita) continually saves The Boys lives in this film short.
- This is the final short directed by Charley Chase.
- Carmen LaRoux’s French accent is natural.
- When The Boys are about to face the firing squad, Curly says he will send a photo home to Elaine, the name of his real second wife Elaine Ackerman (1937-41).