You know, I guess this golden era I've been talking about these past few months, I'll make a decision and say it ends at this short. So Metaldams sayeth the golden age is OILY TO BED, OILY TO RISE up to and including LOCO BOY MAKES GOOD. So it shall be written, so it shall be done. Of course there are good Curly shorts after this and plenty of classic Shemp shorts as well.
So, what's wrong with CACTUS MAKES PERFECT? I am coming to the conclusion that part of the joy of watching the Stooges is watching their insane characters act with relatively normal and/or unlikeable people. Throw the boys at a high society party, with wives, trying to work a blue collar job, doing something normal people do, and the hilarity ensues. Throw them in a world of unbelievable characters, and it plays overly ham fisted.
CACTUS MAKES PERFECT is a good example of the latter. Monty Collins, who also co wrote this thing, dresses in drag to play the mother, who in turn does a poor man's Curly impersonation. They run into con man Eddie Laughton who is an exaggerated cliche in this short. The competitor prospectors are over the top, definitely not a better Vernon Dent role. Everything about this short screams cartoon, there's very little humanity in it.
On a strictly superficial level, the short can be worse because the boys have their usual energy, they're doing a steady stream of slapstick, and the cactus hugging a terrified Larry is a nice highlight. OK, I like the shaving scene too. The boys doing a normal task together and making a pleasantly comedic scene out of it. I think it's great they must use the sink together, no taking turns one at a time in the bathroom like normal folk.
There are much worse Stooge shorts that come later on, but compared to the shorts that preceded this, CACTUS MAKES PERFECT is a step down, I'm sorry to say.