My assessment is somewhat different from Metaldams'...
The original, CORNY CASANOVAS, was a good old-fashioned Stooges short with lots of violent slapstick. So this milder version is inevitably going to suffer some in comparison. Still, as Besser remakes go, it's not bad. In my opinion, RUSTY may be the best Besser short that's a direct remake (i.e., as opposed to just incorporating some old footage in a new plot).
So it's kind of ironic that Joe himself is not as good here as he could be. Sure, he has some good moments – polishing his head; distractedly putting ketchup on his pancakes (and eating them anyway) while staring into space; and "I can't, it's too slippery!" He even adds some energy to parts that Shemp originally did rather blandly – "bicycle-focals" (although the way Shemp said it was worded better), fighting with Larry over the gun, and "income tacks."
But here, more than in any other short so far (except for HOOFS), he comes off as the "sheltered Stooge." I rarely think "come on, Moe, hit him!" when watching Besser shorts, but with this one I think that more than once. Sure, he gets a smack on the head, a fist to the forehead (in a quick one-two with Larry), and a flower pot on his noggin. But the first smack should have been a hit with a hammer, doggone it! And Moe letting him fend that off with a "no!" is really lame.
Joe also falls short here in an area that's usually a strength for him: looking funny. He doesn't look funny with the "bicycle-focals" on, getting the flower pot on the head, or in that picture he gives the girl.
Ah, yes, that picture. Shemp's picture in the original was both funny and believable. Joe's is neither; it's so bad that one wouldn't expect even a Stooge to be dumb enough to frame it and give it to someone.
- In this short Joe heavily uses the "belly bump" as his main way of expressing anger, and it suits him fairly well. The limp-wristed Joe slap isn't seen at all.
- I've never been sure whether Joe's "cough sideways" is funny or not, but having him say it twice (with a cut in between) makes it less funny and comes off like an editing goof.
- Is it just me, or does a line like Larry's "jokes at a time like this" seem a little out of place in a Stooges short? I think it would have been better left out. The third Stooge is supposed to be making a comment like "income tacks" because he's dumb, not because he's joking.
Overall, RUSTY incorporates the old footage smoothly – with, of course, the glaring (and unintentionally hilarious) exception of having Shemp's picture clearly visible for a long two seconds! Really, how hard would it have been to edit that part better?
The new footage at the beginning, while lacking the heavy slapstick of the original, still gives us some amusing stuff. The oddly shaped pancakes are a nice touch, as is the idea of the girl having given each of the boys a different name for herself.
Atypically for this era, this short even has a title that wouldn't have been out of place in better Stooges times.
The ending, with Joe's revenge on the "three-timing Jezebel," isn't quite as funny as the ending of CORNY, but it does make for a good variation on the overall plot. Bringing the tack gun back in at the end – thus tying together the two halves of the short – actually shows a bit of thought.