Another short, another masterpiece, ho hum. I'm not always going to be giving out praise like an overly enthusiastic fan boy, but the fact is in a 190 short run, The Three Stooges had these mini streaks of genius, and we are in the midst of the first streak. For years, I have always considered Hoi Polloi in my top three favorite Stooge shorts, praise Del Lord, alleluia, and my latest viewing has not changed my opinion one bit.
So why does Hoi Polloi work? Focus, my friends, they are focused. From the first frame to the last, the entire short is based on the premise of the low class Stooges dealing with high society, a theme that mixes as well as peanut butter and jelly. The entire short focuses on this classic premise, and every gag and scene flows perfectly into each other. It's really that simple.
Lots of fun little characters as well. Harry Holman (what an unfortunate name, and later in It's A Wonderful Life), was absolutely fantastic as Professor Richmond, and it's a shame he wasn't in more shorts. "Get it right, GET IT RIGHT!" Our lovely and tragic friend Geneva Mitchell was great as the dance instructor, and Phyllis Crane was wonderful in her psychic scene as well....reminds me of a crazy girl my friend just dated. Kitty McHugh is also wonderful as the nerdy friend of Curly. "Go cut yourself a slice of throat." She wouldn't return to Stooge shorts until years later in some early 50's Shemp classics.
The etiquette scene is classic, the spring on Curly's ass while dancing with that larger woman is classic, Moe's dancing style with Phyllis Crane is classic, professor Nichol's lovely daughters are classic as is Larry's line, "Hey brother, can you spare a Nichol?" and my ability to use the word classic is classic. Folks, if you don't like this short, why are you here? Prime Stooges.
I would like to add fairly recently I saw the fun 80's comedy TRADING PLACES with Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Lee Curtis, and thematically, the idea of heredity vs environment of Hoi Polloi is ever present.