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Pop Goes the Easel

A great lesson in art from The Three Stooges (cp. Tassels in the Air). Dali as a student at the Royal Academy in Madrid won a bet that he could paint a picture without touching the canvas with a brush, and Andrew Sarris claims “the custard-pie sequence in The Great Race transcends the psychology of slapstick to qualify as the last spasm of action painting in the Western world.”

 

Uncivil Warriors

The Confederacy, over its head, full of feathers and stuck with a pickaninny.

 

Pardon My Scotch

A Prohibition parable, with citations from Chaplin and Old Ez (“Another rose, Mr. Pound?”).

 

Hoi Polloi

The Three Stooges in high society at a Pygmalion shindig.

The professor loses his bet, but the lady of the house is a paradigm of class, snobs get bottled up.

 

Three Little Beers

An incredible assault on a country club golf course to make beer deliveries is answered by the rolling barrels of What, No Beer?.

 

Movie Maniacs

A Hollywood variant of The Inspector General, in which the Stooges are mistaken for gentlemen from the Home Office. Curly models his performance on John Barrymore, and opines, “If at first you don’t succeed, keep on sucking till you do suc-ceed.”

The essence of it, before Leo the Lion chases them away, is a send-up of the “white telephone” picture.

 

False Alarms

Dilatory firemen put out a fat girl and the fire captain and his brand-new car.

 

Whoops, I’m an Indian!

Yukon swindlers flee the sheriff and a Frenchman, adopt disguises as Indians for this, and hide in the Lobo County Jail.

A magnificent performance by Bud Jamison as Pierre, who’s lost his wife to Chief Leaping Lizard and hates all Indians as a result, but totes new squaw Curly upstairs.

Yiddische Injuns, before Blazing Saddles.

 

Dizzy Doctors

Brighto, it takes the paint off cars, but really is a patent medicine.

The Stooges take the job under duress, demonstrate the stuff on passersby, then try it in a hospital.

And finally, gurney with the wind.

 

3 Dumb Clucks

3 Dumb Clucks shows The Three Stooges as thoroughly finished in their schooling under Harold Lloyd, as certain other of their shorts demonstrate their knowledge of the Chaplin œuvre on a ground of Laurel & Hardy. The adroitness and simplicity of the flagpole gag, and its speed, indicate graduation with honors.

 

Goofs and Saddles

A straightforward and easygoing Western parody, which not only shows you The Three Stooges relatively at their ease in a just plain funny film (which doesn’t lack bite), it shows you how the Gatling gun was invented.

 

Cash and Carry

A surprise at every turn. The candor of the finale matches the honesty of the rest, and this is a good example of the many gags borrowed by WB Animation, if Bugs Bunny’s original is here.

 

The Sitter-Downers

It’s almost all gags, the point is how the final joke gives a signature to the whole thing, a sort of suspended construction that is rare even for the studious Stooges.

They continue Buster Keaton’s invention of Postmodern architecture, with a rigorous analysis of its foundations.

They marry three sisters (after picketing the girls’ angry father with a banner that reads UNFAIR TO UNION SUITORS). But their brides want a house before a honeymoon, so the Stooges knock together a pre-fab in the style of Frank O. Gehry (Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Bilbao Guggenheim, etc.).

After the wet cement gag expanded in Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? (and an earlier one that influenced Richard Lester), the resulting mishmash is accidentally destroyed by one of the wives, a female Samson.

 

Termites of 1938

Exterminators are mistaken for “discriminatin’” escorts at a dinner party.

The Three Stooges give lessons in etiquette and paralyze the joint looking for vermin.

 

Wee Wee Monsieur

Starving artists join the Foreign Legion, lose their captain and find him again in the domain of Tzimmes.

The original of Malice in the Palace, and quite a progenitor. Like Pop Goes the Easel, a lesson in art.

 

Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb

A fine knockabout taking for its text the famous admonition that “the love of money is the root of all evil”, i.e., it must be put out at interest for the use of others, “and come again after many days.”

 

Three Little Sew and Sews

Even in Heaven, the admiral pursues them.

They capture enemy spies and get their reward.

 

We Want Our Mummy

Janus-faced detectives trail a missing professor of archæology to the tomb of Rootin-Tootin outside Cairo, guarded by crooks (one disguised as a mummy).

 

A Ducking They Did Go

The ending is a lift from A Pain in the Pullman, aptly.

The beginning is Jean Valjean’s watermelon.

The middle is prize ducks led to the slaughter like B.F. Skinner, for the police department and the mayor.

The Canvas Back Duck Club.

 

Yes, We Have No Bonanza

Saloonkeepers strike gold in the buried loot of a bank-robber.

The essential discovery is a dog-and-pony (Yorick, the jackass).

Escape on a cigar-store horse turns into a successful pursuit.

 

A Plumbing We Will Go

The original statement of a slightly varied theme. The Three Stooges on the lam come and go through magic cabinets, lie low as plumbers fixing a leak, bring Niagara Falls to a posh living room, and exit pursued.

 

How High Is Up?

Minute Menders, a fly-by-night operation, turns its assets into riveters on the 97th floor à la Gehry and has to bail out.

 

No Census, No Feeling

Working for the Census Bureau on a sudden urge, the Stooges join a bridge party where alum is served in the drinks, then they’re chased off a football field by both teams.

 

Dutiful but Dumb

Whack photographers priapically pry into a movie star’s elopement, botch the pictures and get sent to Vulgaria where photography is forbidden on pain of death.

Curly battles a revolting bottle of beer and a raw oyster stew that bites back.

The Vulgarian secret weapon, mistaken by the Stooges for a camera, is an invisible ray that makes any gun fire in the owner’s hands.

 

All the World’s a Stooge

This is a setup and punchline with a bifurcated structure. After the setup (matron patronizing refugee children), the very direct surrealism of the dentist’s office is converted into the burlesque sketch of the refugee sequence.

 

An Ache in Every Stake

Ice men for The Music Box, how to stuff a turkey, and a birthday cake for a gasbag.

 

Some More of Samoa

Tree surgeons undertake an expedition to the isle of Rhum Boogie for a mate to a rich old kook’s persimmon-tree that’s pining.

 

Cactus Makes Perfect

Curly’s gold-finding gadget takes the boys out West with Ma’s blessing.

They outwit two greedy luckless prospectors and find a bonanza at the Lost Mine in, strictly speaking, a variant of Poe’s “The Gold-Bug”.  

 

Even As IOU

A marvelous piece of Surrealist fantasy on bachelorhood and marriage. The Three Stooges are racetrack touts with day-old winners and worse, fleeing a cop they enter the functioning door of a billboard for Miracle Homes, “If You Buy a Home Like This It’s a Miracle”.

Scattered furniture, poster for The Girl Friend.

Mother and daughter, need to provide, a trip to the track, swindlers, horse and foal.

 

They Stooge to Conga

Schickelgruber’s agent X-43 is in America to concert with the Japs, the object is to destroy a harbor and divvy up the world, so.

Fix-it men fix the doorbell, tangle the phones, snafu the remote-control submarine and bring on the bombers.

 

Spook Louder

Professor J.O. Dunkfeather tells a reporter how the great Jap spy ring was broken up by three door-to-door salesmen with reducing machines.

Laurel & Hardy repay a longstanding debt of admiration in The Big Noise (dir. Mal St. Clair) the following year.

 

Higher Than a Kite

Motor-pool mechanics “somewhere in somewhere” botch the colonel’s car, hide in a bomb and land at German headquarters with Marshal Boring.

They escape with Nazi plans because the Wehrmacht has to heil Curly’s ass with a picture of Hitler stuck on it.

 

Idle Roomers

Here at last is the supreme critic, the monster who can’t stand music, Lupe the Wolf-Man.

The Stooges are bellhops in his hotel.

 

Phony Express

Vagrants promoted as marshals abjure Abdul’s quack cure and clean up Peaceful Gulch by trailing a skunk like a bloodhound, resisting the trap of filthy lucre and making it too hot to handle.

 

A Gem of a Jam

Janitors in a medical building after hours have to pull a slug out of a gangster, are taken by the cops as gangsters themselves, slip in a cement trough (Curly) and all but turn to stone, frighteningly.

 

Busy Buddies

The Stooges go from running the Jive Cafe at a loss to competing in a County Fair Milking Contest shooting bull.

 

Three Pests in a Mess

The Cheatham Investment Co. mistakes the Stooges with their skyscraper flytrap invention for sweepstakes winners.

That comes to nothing, but the Stooges kill a department-store mannequin and have to bury it.

The proprietor of the Ever Rest Pet Cemetery and two associates are in costume for a ball, yet they go to see about the prowlers.

 

Booby Dupes

A stunning takeoff from Laurel & Hardy’s Towed in a Hole (dir. George Marshall), in which The Three Stooges launch their fishing boat and sink it and get bombed from the air as Japs owing to a paint-spattered white flag.

 

Shivering Sherlocks

Deadbeats pay off their cafe bill as robbery suspects, keep the proprietress from being gypped, and catch the culprits.

A brilliant variation of the oyster stew in Dutiful But Dumb is performed by Moe with Larry and Shemp.