Since late 1939, with the exception of two shorts, all the Stooge shorts have been directed by either Jules White or Del Lord. Del Lord has gone into a semi hiatus with shorts, going on to direct features and coming back for the occasional Columbia short before retiring in the early 50's. We'll see him one more time in 1948. Other than that one short, every short until 1952 will either be directed by Jules White or newcomer Edward Bernds. I'm a big fan of Bernds and feel overall, his Shemp shorts were superior to those of Jules White. He also made it a point to avoid the eye poke in his films, not wanting children to repeat it, so there's a trademark we'll see less of in the future.
Even though this is the third Stooge short Bernds actually directed, it is the first to be released, as Bernds asked for MICRO-PHONIES to be his first impression upon the public as opposed to A BIRD IN THE HEAD and THE THREE TROUBLEDOERS. As touched upon last week, we are now in the era where Curly is not physically well and it really effects his performance. MICRO-PHONIES is the rare film of this era where Curly's performance is close to his old self, and the short itself is a true classic, so it's understandable why Bernds wanted its release rushed.
Curly himself is wonderful, not really having to do too much running around and high pitched screaming, but instead gets to do pantomime in those wonderful lip synching bits. His facial expressions are absolutely hilarious, especially when he hits those high notes and gets a little crossed eyed. I also love it when Moe and Larry join in on the fun in "Sextette From Lucia." Unbelievably funny stuff. Physical humor like that is hard to write about, it's just funny because it is, know what I'm saying?
I also love Moe's "Gritto" radio announcement bit. Again, some really funny looks on his face as he's delivering his monologue. Moe is usually the grouchy hard ass, thank God, but occasionally he can do light hearted and be really funny, and this is a great example.
Of course, the supporting cast is top notch in this one. Christine McIntyre turns in one of her signature roles, showing off that wonderful singing voice of hers. Such a pleasure watching her in anything she's in. Then there's Symona Boniface, playing the perfect high society lady. Look, we get to watch the two greatest Stooge ladies doing what they do best and a later Curly turning in a great performance. The stars were aligned when this one was filmed.
Oh yes, then there's Gino Corrado, turning in what is probably his most remembered performance as the high tempered musician who gets his violin smashed and fruit shot in his mouth. This was obviously a talented man, who appeared in films such as CASABLANCA, CITIZEN KANE, INTOLERANCE, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, MARK OF ZORRO, and other all time classics, yet he's most remembered for MICRO-PHONIES. He did nothing of note in those classic films other than appear in them. One great thing about Stooge shorts is that it sometimes gives the underdog a chance to shine, and this is the best example of all.
One of the last great Curly shorts, and one I can't foresee getting too much criticism.
PS: Check out the poster pictured above. Who can spot the mistake?