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Author Topic: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)  (Read 3963 times)

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Offline metaldams

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If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
« on: December 12, 2014, 06:09:46 PM »
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  • http://www.threestooges.net/filmography/episode/86
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037813/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1



          We enter a new realm of Stooge shorts, as IF A BODY MEETS A BODY is considered a short where nobody argues there is something wrong with Curly, and it will continue to be this way for the final eleven shorts that follow.  For years I have always suspected something happened to Curly in between the filming of IDIOTS DE LUXE and this short, and upon doing research over the past few weeks, I now know this to be correct.

          IDIOTS DE LUXE was shot in October 1944.  While there are some signs Curly is ill, as there have been for a lot of the shorts over the past few years, his appearance and performance weren't as dramatically alarming as things are now.  Though released before IDIOTS DE LUXE, the feature ROCKIN' IN THE ROCKIES was shot in December 1944, the last filmed footage before IF A BODY MEETS A BODY.  Not exactly classic Curly, but again, not as bad as what was to follow.  Upon digging through Joan Howard Mauer's biography, CURLY: AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY OF THE SUPERSTOOGE, Moe sensed there was something wrong with Curly in January 1945 and suggested Curly see a doctor.  Curly's condition was considered so grim that he spent several weeks in a sanitarium to recuperate in January into February 1945.  Again, the short we're talking here is March, the previous filmed appearance December, so obviously in the interim, Curly was having severe health issues, and it shows.

          The blown match gag to me is the worst bit, Curly's reaction to being struck by the match a good five seconds too late.  This is the same man who five years earlier made reacting to getting sprayed by water from pipes a high art form.  This is a dramatic fall.  Some of Curly's deliveries were really unconvincing too, the worst being when he says, "Oh, I can't look at this.  I can't.  I can't."  That is the most wooden I have ever heard Curly. 

          The final thing I will say about Curly's health is out of the eleven shorts that followed, he was better in all of them than he was here.  I really think Jules White had no idea what he was getting into and came unprepared.  The later Curly shorts, while there is obviously something wrong, are not this dramatic.  I really think they planned in advance and either found ways to write around Curly, coach him better, or simply use Larry more.

          Forgetting about Curly's health for a moment, I have also made it known Stooge scare comedies in general are not my favorites, and this is no exception.  There are no really great gags to me, no stand out scenes, and the dead bodies, while effective in straight horror movies, really bring the comic mood down further.  IF A BODY MEETS A BODY is also a remake of THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE (1930).  It wasn't a funny script when Stan and Ollie did it either, and we'll get to that film in the coming months.  As stated in the link above, Fred Kelsey plays the detective in both films!

          Despite all the gloom and doom, I will say the look of this short is fantastic.  The thunder and rain, the great dark exterior shot of the house, the shadows lit up against the wall, it at least has the look of a good black and white horror film.  Also, Larry is funny in this one throughout, check out his reaction in the final shot when they find out Curly inherits sixty seven cents.  I also dig Moe threatening to tear Curly's tonsils out and using them as a bow tie.

          Really sad seeing Curly like this, and it will be this way for the shorts we discuss over the next couple of months, but hey, guess what?  Next week, we get to say hi to Edward Bernds and see one of those above mentioned shorts where they found a way to work around Curly's illness.  Looking forward to discussing it.

    4/10

    Offline Shemp_Diesel

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 07:12:09 PM »
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  • I wonder if it's coincidence that this was the first Curly to use the slower rendition of Three Blind Mice, and this is the first short with an obviously slower Curly. I've often said in the past that spookhouse shorts were not my cup of tea, but this might be the one exception.

    I think my reasons for liking this one may owe to childhood memories. This is one that always stuck out to me. I can't remember for certain the first short I ever watched--but I do know that visual of Curly's face as the creaky door swings open is one that stayed with over the years. And Curly crying to Moe "I hear somebody groaning, the place is full of spooks."

    Now that I think about it, I might have a higher opinion of a lot of these ill-Curly shorts than most--and I think most of it has to owe to the fact that Larry seems to step to the forefront more than he has for the last several years of the shorts. Yep, Ol' Porcupine really seems to step up his game during this time period.

    Don't get me wrong, there are some stinkers coming up, but this one is ok in my book. Better than ok, I give it a solid 8 out of 10....

    « Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 01:09:53 AM by Shemp_Diesel »
    Now you ask me if I believe a man can become a wolf. Well, if you mean can he take on the physical characteristics of an animal, no, it's fantastic. However, I do believe that most anything can happen to a man in his own mind.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 08:22:27 PM »
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  • Now that I think about it, I might have a higher opinion of a lot of these ill-Curly shorts than most--and I think most of it has to owe to the fact that Larry seems to step to the forefront more than he has the for the last several years of the shorts. Yep, Ol' Porcupine really seems to step up his game during this time period.


    I agree with this 100% concerning Larry.  Not only in some of these sick Curly shorts, but in the Shemp shorts as well.  Larry had his moments before this, but from this point forward, I think the writers really put Larry's talents to better use.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #3 on: December 13, 2014, 04:28:43 AM »
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  • This short is plain depressing.  I have more to say, but at the moment I am struggling to think, which is weakening the nation.
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    Offline Shemp_Diesel

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #4 on: December 13, 2014, 07:57:47 AM »
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  • One thing I noticed about this short--there seem to be a lot of lines that were dubbed in, i.e. when Curly grabs the chair and says "stand aside", then they dub in Curly saying "I'll break the door down." I wonder if there was any behind the scenes story to that?
    Now you ask me if I believe a man can become a wolf. Well, if you mean can he take on the physical characteristics of an animal, no, it's fantastic. However, I do believe that most anything can happen to a man in his own mind.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #5 on: December 13, 2014, 10:54:25 AM »
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  • Thoughts clearer now...

    This short is depressing.  Curly is so sick at this point that it makes the short a tear-jerker.  Sadly, things never really get better for him.  And to boot, there is pretty much nothing to laugh at in the plot.   In the beginning, Moe and Larry treat Curly like an unwanted step-brother.  Then they make nice only because they want to get rich quick.

    At the mansion, there is nothing funny in the opening scenes except for the "Sausage Brothers" routine.  Another murder, a thunderstorm, and a power outage further drop this into the "suspense" genre instead of "comedic horror."

    In the bedroom, I tip my hat to Ted Lorch for doing a great acting job.  He and Moe bring a moment of comedy to this scene.  When Curly screams upon realizing he is standing on the uncle's death spot, he sounds so far off it's not even sad: it's agonizing.  Further, Curly's slowness in these scenes brings things down to rock bottom.

    When they're running, there is again nothing funny except for when they beat Fred Kelsey in the head.  That said, who on earth, even in a moment of fear, would open a closet, see their relatives bound and gagged, and then run in fear at the sight of them?  This finally closes with the maid being discovered as the culprit, and the boys are left flat broke in a completely unsatisfying ending.  It would have been better if instead Curly was left with $5,000 and the boys walk away satisfied to at least gotten a decent amount of money even if they don't get 40 years financial security.

    3/10
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    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #6 on: December 13, 2014, 11:09:55 AM »
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  • I've always thought that the backwards high-jump was very well done, though as I've said before I don't have the digital versions of these, so if someone tells me the wires are visible on them, I wouldn't be surprised.  I personally am not put off by Curly's yell on that one.  There are lots of overdubs, which means the line was garbled, or mumbled, or fluffed, or just off somehow.  I don't think this is Curly's worst, they're coming up.  Fred Kelsey is much better here than in The L - H Murder Case, much more comedic.

    Offline JazzBill

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #7 on: December 13, 2014, 01:13:09 PM »
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  • After watching it again I don't think it is all that bad. It actually has a decent plot and some good bits in it. Like everyone else has mentioned, I can see a big decline in Curlys health.  This short is the one I consider the beginning of the end for him. I still enjoy the short and rate it a 8.
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    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #8 on: December 13, 2014, 03:11:22 PM »
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  • There's a very good MGM cartoon whose title I don't recall about a detective in a spooky house, and the detective, drawn as a bulldog, is a dead ringer for Fred Kelsey in this.

    Offline Dr. Hugo Gansamacher

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #9 on: December 14, 2014, 10:22:42 AM »
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  • Wow, a lack of good gags combined with Curly's dismaying physical decline: this short is certainly not one of my favorites.

    While we're on the morbid subject of physical decline, I want to add a personal observation: When the Link heirs are gathered in the expectation of hearing Bob O. Link's will, one of them is an old man whose hand shakes as he holds his cane. The tremor looks simulated to me. But when I saw it, I immediately thought of the shaking hand of Fred Kelsey, who plays the police detective here, in Pardon My Backfire, filmed eight years later. That tremor is clearly genuine and uncontrollable, as we see Kelsey try ineffectually to hide it by keeping his hand in his pocket. I have always found his appearance in that short painful to watch. Poor Fred Kelsey. Poor Curly.

    All right, enough of that. On to trivia.

    I was struck by Moe's line, spoken shortly after the Stooges' entry into the Link house, "Look at these Harotouniounian rugs!" When I heard that, I recognized a garbling of the common Armenian name "Harotounian," which is a name that a vendor of oriental rugs might very likely have (many if not most such vendors in the US, in my experience, are of Armenian descent). I did a bit of Googling and learned that, at least according to the Web site of HRI Rugs—that's "HRI" for "Harounian [n.b.] Rugs International"—"The Harounian name has been well known in the international carpet & rug industry for at least a century." I would guess that Moe was alluding to this name—running "Harounian" together with "Harotounian" and adding another "-ounian" for good measure, as any well-edjumacated Stooge would do.

    Offline Lefty

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #10 on: December 14, 2014, 10:40:41 AM »
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  • "Oh boy, free cigarettes!"  "What, no matches?  I wouldn't work for that piker."
    "To my nephew, Curly Q. Link, ... I leave the sum total of 67 cents -- net."  "Sixty-seven cents!  Net!  Sixty-seven cents! ..."

    Those quotes and the revealing of Josephine (Palma) the maid as the killer were about the only good things in this short.  And Curly's health was definitely below par to but it mildly.

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #11 on: December 14, 2014, 09:12:36 PM »
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  •      This is why, Doctor, I'm glad you're back...Haratounaonian is a word that not many of us were about to Google, and by implication shows that someone on the writing staff of this short had enough esoteric knowledge to not only be aware of the original, but also to be enough on his game to make a joke of it, tailored to Moe.  I'm guessing that it was written properly in the original script, the joke being that Moe would read the proper name, but that Moe in rehearsal garbled it in such a way as improved the line, so they kept it in.  Again, just a guess.
         The extremely shaky guy with the cane is so distracting that one wonders if he was someone's relative placed there to add ( maybe ) to the spooky atmosphere, although he really doesn't.  Sad to hear that Fred Kelsey, one of my very favorites, ended up with the shakes ( sounds like Parkinson's ) himself.

         Off subject, this is driving me nuts:  in what episode does Curly, being somehow unintentionally thwarted ( I'm guessing some situation where a wall separates him from the other two ) yells out: " Don't be so mean!"  I should know it, and I can't recollect it, and I'm going insane.  Help me, anybody.

    Offline Larrys#1

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #12 on: December 15, 2014, 11:34:52 AM »
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  • Aw man, the ratings here are so brutal.

    I agree, Curly's health took one hell of a dive here, but I do like the story of this episode. I always like these "haunted" stooge episode, even SPOOK LOUDER (which I probably should review as well, when I get the chance). It seems as though Curly is using his real voice most of the time here. He must not be feeling well at all since he seemed to struggle with maintaining his high pitched voice. His speech has obviously slowed down considerably.

    I agree that Larry is actually funnier than Curly here. Larry's expression when he reacts to the skull head is priceless! As I said, I do like the story here, but Curly brings nothing to the table in terms of laughter and because of that, it's hard noting any memorable moments here.

    6/10

    Offline Larrys#1

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #13 on: December 15, 2014, 11:37:50 AM »
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  • I wonder if it's coincidence that this was the first Curly to use the slower rendition of Three Blind Mice, and this is the first short with an obviously slower Curly.

    They kept that same rendition in the first few Shemp episodes and then changed it after that, which makes me wonder.... If Curly had continued, would they have used those same renditions that they used during the Shemp episodes?? Because I always wondered if they changed it because of Shemp.

    Offline Larrys#1

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #14 on: December 17, 2014, 01:34:38 PM »
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  • I agree with this 100% concerning Larry.  Not only in some of these sick Curly shorts, but in the Shemp shorts as well.  Larry had his moments before this, but from this point forward, I think the writers really put Larry's talents to better use.

    I thought I was the only one that noticed that. During the healthy Curly years, Larry didn't really do much. All he really did was make those funny reactions when he saw Curly getting abused by Moe. It wasn't until the sick Curly and Shemp years where they gave Larry more to do. I know they originally did it to help Curly out because of his failing health, but I always wondered why they continued giving Larry more to do during the Shemp episodes. Was it because they finally realized he was funny or was it because they felt that the episodes wouldn't be as good with Shemp taking the more dominant role like Curly did?

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #15 on: December 17, 2014, 04:02:55 PM »
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  • I think they realized more and more as the forties progressed that Larry could indeed carry the ball, and I think it really came in handy in the fifties when Shemp began to age quite noticeably and Larry stayed comparatively young looking.

    Offline Kopfy2013

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #16 on: December 17, 2014, 11:52:21 PM »
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  • Curly is slowing but it still effective. There is a lot of dubbing in the short. I wonder why.

    Pretty good story. One of their best scary shorts. I rate it an 8
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    Offline ThumpTheShoes

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #17 on: December 18, 2014, 06:46:52 PM »
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  • This short didn't make the rounds as much as the others when I was very young, so when I saw it on TBS in the 80's, it was like something new, style and characterization-wise.

    Curly didn't seem ill to still-young me, it was just like he was more laid back or doing something new and different. Love the huge jump backwards yelling, "Wow!" Curly kind of reminds me of Besser in this one- wanting to ad lib and carry on, just not connecting quite well with it. The low-key performance is understandable-- try doing a Curly impression when you feel your worst. I imagine he felt 10 times worse than that! Knowing his health problems now, it's amazing what we got in Three Little Pirates (the verbal stuff and pratfalls) and Rhythm (all the dancing silliness and a reprise of "Woo-woo-woo!").

    The short suffers from some sloppy direction- Larry is already reacting to the professor's body before it fell. Looks more like an outtake or just a really bad editing decision to use that little bit.

    This short has the worst dialogue flub in Stooge history: "Let's tur-- light a cannle and sear--look unner da bed!" I cringe when I think what migraines can reduce me to, and how Curly must have felt having the mini-strokes, blood pressure problems, and all the business with the weight gain/loss. No wonder he couldn't get his words straight. And just when he starts to regain his composure.. Well, that's moving too far ahead.

    Curly's dubbing has been mentioned. Odd for a Stooge picture done indoors, but.
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    Offline BeatleShemp

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #18 on: January 09, 2016, 04:11:30 PM »
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  • I agree with many of the mentioned topics of Curly's failing health.  I did find many parts funny in this short, and a lot of them were lines Moe delivered, like this "I don't see why you have to get so spooky just because a guy got croaked in here."  I laugh so friggin hard at it every time.  And then "You got nothin' to worry about. If he stabs you in the head, he'll wreck his knife."  I just love it.  No, this short is definitely not one of the best, not even a classic.  Not one of my favorites.  But I do look for whatever silver linings in each short.  I'd rate it a 5.

    Offline stoogerascalfan62

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #19 on: April 11, 2016, 01:57:35 PM »
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  • I've always wondered if the "Sick Curly" version of "Three Blind Mice" is more or less the same arrangement as the 1938-42 version, but with a different ending.

    Offline Curly Van Dyke

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #20 on: November 18, 2016, 12:47:40 PM »
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  • I always like this short,despite Curly's obvious decline. I never tire of "Scare" comedies and this episode has been
    cracking me up since I was a kid.
    Yes,Larry is Great in this short-love his many nasal NNNaahhhs. When Uncle Bob O. Link's body appears,the cacaphony of
    Moe' Operatic Yell, Curly's Turkey Scream and Larry's Nasal Nnnahh makes for a Great Vocal Trio-also love Moe's Hair-Raising gag.
    Despite a weak performance by Curly, a very funny short.

    Offline Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80

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    Re: If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
    « Reply #21 on: November 16, 2017, 10:28:37 PM »
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  • A fairly underrated Stooge short I have fond memories of as a kid, sadly this short marks the beginning of Curly's stroke period which made it a little difficult to watch, fortunately Moe & Larry give great performances and this short had a few classic moments like Moe constantly being awaken by Larry & Curly, Moe calling the Butler "Dracula", Larry screaming at the skull, while it was hard to see Curly deteriorating but Moe & Larry did make this short a lot better than what really is.

    Overall I give this short a 7 out of 10.