This is the first Joe remake of a Curly short, and it doesn't vary a whole lot from the original. In contrast to what others will probably say, though, I consider this to be one of the better Joe remakes. In fact, while Stooge fans commonly assume "Curly great, Joe bad," I'd go so far as to say PIES AND GUYS actually improves on HALF WITS HOLIDAY in some respects – though not so much because of Joe, and not in the way one would think HOLIDAY could most easily be improved on.
There are two main areas where I see improvement. The first is in how Moe and Larry play their parts here in comparison to their original performances. I see it the most with Moe: his new line "they must be crooks," how he pantomimes eating a noodle, his "cultured" speech at the party ("...if I may be so pedantic").
The other area is in the overall pacing of the short. The table scene, especially, seems to flow much more smoothly here than in HOLIDAY.
Where HOLIDAY could really have been improved on, though, was in the ending, where it had no participation from the third Stooge. But here Joe is not included in the big pie fight like he could have been (barring the inevitable budgetary considerations); instead, he just gets pastry in the face in a couple of quick shots added in the middle of old footage. (If I recall correctly, he doesn't get hit with pies in any other Stooges short.)
One area where PIES clearly does not improve on HOLIDAY is its co-stars. Still, while Ted Lorch is great in the original and Milton Frome is inferior in the remake, I wouldn't say that the performances of Vernon Dent and Barbara Slater in the original are outstandingly good, or that those of Gene Roth and Greta Thyssen in the remake are outstandingly bad.
To judge poor Curly's performance in the original isn't really fair, of course; but, while he had his moments, for the most part he was (understandably) rather lifeless. And since this was not one of Curly's great Stooges roles, Joe seems to be able to step into it without too much difficulty, even adding a little energy to it in the process. He does some new things and also handles some re-done things well:
- "I never ate one of those."
- Jumps when lipstick pops up.
- Puts professor's torn-out hair on his own head. (This makes more sense, and IMO is funnier, with bald Joe than with shaven-headed Curly.)
- "If that means what I think it means..."
- Sneaks fingerful from pie that Moe has just taken from him.
In this short Joe gets a quick 1-2-3 in the belly, head and back (along with Larry); a karate chop in the neck; and bitten on his nose. He also gets ashes in his mouth, lipstick on his tongue, a kick in the rear (which doesn't really count because only the bottle gets hit), and pie (first part, then a whole) in the face.