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Topics - metaldams

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General Discussion / Bobby "The Brain" Heenan 1944 - 2017
« on: September 18, 2017, 09:19:19 AM »
To anybody who grew up a wrestling fan in the 70's - 90's, Bobby Heenan was one of the greats.  Hilarious announcer and manager, he even wrestled too.  Probably within the top 10 of people who have entertained me in my life, the man has gone through a ton of health issues and I hope he's at peace.  So many great Heenan moments, but my favorites would be his today un P.C. Commentary on Tito Santana and his announcing during the 1992 Royal Rumble.  When with Gorilla Monsoon in a Prime Time Wrestling skit or in the announcing booth, they were as good as any comedy team. Couldn't let his passing go by without saying anything.  R.I.P. Weasel

This may sound like a bizarre request, but I'm looking online and not having too much luck.  Does anybody know if original scores for any Three Stooges/Columbia related music exists?  Hal Roach music, Marx Brothers songs - I'd also be interested in these things as well.  I run across the occasional piano arrangement, or the chord changes for "Swingin' the Alphabet," but actual scores from the vaults would be awesome.  Does this stuff exist?  Any help would be appreciated.

As you guys know, I do bass covers on YouTube, and I'd love to pay homage to my favorite comedians.  It's a shame Richard Finegan doesn't still post here.  He was a valuable member and quite the music expert.

General Discussion / Favorite non comedy films of the golden age
« on: August 26, 2017, 06:05:42 PM »
      We've had plenty of comedy discussion, but since it's been years since there's a thread like this and there was a different crew then, I'd be curious what favorite movies you guys enjoy from the silent era and the golden era of Hollywood that aren't slapstick/burlesque like comedies (meaning light screwball Cary Grant like comedies are allowed).  Let's stop at 1960, shortly after The Stooges made shorts.  So yeah, favorite non comedies from the era The Stooges were making shorts and before, I'd be fascinated to know.  It's my favorite era of film making in general.  I'll throw in my favorites, but I'd like to hear some of yours first.

General Discussion / R.I.P. Jerry Lewis
« on: August 20, 2017, 04:04:05 PM »

      Jerry Lewis has just passed away at age 91.  He was the last living major comedian I can think of that started in that pre television film comedy era that The Three Stooges belonged to, though chronologically Lewis was on the tail end of it and certainly had a successful career far beyond.  I think a thread is called for and I know there are fans on this board.  My favorite film of Jerry's based on what I've seen is THE BELLBOY.  I always thought physical comedy was his strong point, and as a silent character in this film, he got to do plenty of it.


General Discussion / A recent pic of me (Stooge related)
« on: April 07, 2017, 06:29:09 PM »
With my nephew, and in desperate need of a haircut.  Taken last weekend, first time I went.

General Discussion / 2017 MLB Thread
« on: March 23, 2017, 10:23:46 PM »
Let's start this bad boy.  I'll be away all weekend in some town called Cooperstown. Yippy skippy!

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Outlaws IS Coming! (1965)
« on: January 27, 2017, 12:46:21 AM »

      .....and we have come to the end.  THE OUTLAWS IS COMING! will go down as the last film ever made by The Three Stooges at Columbia, and the last one I'll review.  A thirty one year run at a studio with a few small interruptions, quite an amazing and fascinating body of work, even the bad stuff, in its own weird way.  After this, there'd be a cartoon series and KOOK'S TOUR, the latter being a bunch of footage edited together haphazardly and after Larry's stroke - really an incomplete project.  THE OUTLAWS IS COMING!, to my mind, is the last Stooge film proper.

      So, how is their Columbia swan song?  Pretty mediocre overall, sad to say, but mediocre Stooges is better than no Stooges to this Stooge fan.  I will say, there was never a point in the film where I was bored it never really blown away either, though entertained.  The opening Stooge scene where they put too much powder on top to take the picture is one entertaining scene, kind of a play on they all put the yeast in from BEER BARREL POLECATS.  Kind of got a kick that the skunk is named Elvis.  Throw in the two Beatles references, namely the Japanese Beatle and the fact girls swoon over Johnny RINGO, and this is as deep in the rock 'n roll era the Stooges would get.  I wonder what they would have thought of G.G. Allin?  [pie]. The scene where Moe gets glued to the chair had great potential, I just thought it was a shame they cut, right in the middle of it, to a scene involving Annie saving Ken Cabot.  It really destroyed the rhythm, to me.  Speaking of Ken Cabot, he's played by Adam "Batman" West.  Without this history, West would seem bland.  Knowing this guy would be Batman a year later, West's trademark stilted delivery seems appropriately camp.

      One big draw of this film back in the day was the fact so many of the people who introduced Stooge films to kids on local channels showed up as outlaws who bizarrely reformed into "law and order" lovers.  It may have come across as cute at the time, and while I respect the history, being born almost 15 years after this was released, these people don't have the same appeal to me as baby boomers.  I mean that as no disrespect, just an observation this film was very clearly made for a certain audience of a certain age at a certain time.  Lots of Stooge films, even classics, have references of their time, so this would be fine if the roles of the local TV hosts were actually funny, but the whole gun fight comes across as very cartoonish to me, and the whole reform angle is extremely unbelievable and hokey. 

      Derita actually comes across OK in this one when he's wearing more than a bra (I won't mention that scene again), mainly because he is not recycling old Curly gags this time, basically just being himself.  I will admit I've warmed up to Derita a little, even though as a comic, he's still not in the same league as his predecessors, Besser included.  Moe and Larry, well, they're just going through the motions at this point; but it's nice to see the give it one final run.  The story itself is nothing special, a typical western yarn.  I'll give props to Emil Sitka for playing three roles here!  The Stooges Columbia story itself basically ends with recycyed gags from the past (meat grinder machine gun, the Calvary never being late in motion picture history, and another unnecessary gratuitous pie throw at the bad guys), and with that, I'm signing off.

      I want to thank every one of you who have participated in these reviews for the past almost four years, especially you regulars.  It has been one Hell of a journey.  I admit some weeks I was more inspired than others, no doubt feeling most inspired when the Stooges were, during the late thirties and early forties run of classics.  You guys who have been doing this every week with me rock, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.



      THE THREE STOOGES GO AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE is another good, if not great, feature.  I've never really had a bulk watching of these Derita films until now, so it's been an interesting experience, but one conclusion I've come to this week is this - THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES is the best Derita film because it has the combination best story and gags that are unique, for the most part, to the Derita era.  THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT is fascinating in the sense the boys stretch out into more adult humor, lacking this in this week's film, but the story, with the miltaristic and nuclear themes, are a bit of a drag.  This week, we get a wonderful story, a play on AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, but some of the gags are remakes of Curly era routines.  I can't help but compare Derita, a serviceable comedian, to Curly Howard, a genius comedian, at this point.  The maharaja scene is done better in THREE LITTLE PIRATES and not only is Curly better than Derita, but Moe, who even more so carries the scene Curly or Derita, is noticeably more energetic in THREE LITTLE PIRATES as well. When doing original material, the aging and softening on the team is less apparent.

      The weasel scene is kind of similar, but there's one big exception here.  Derita, again, is good, but no Curly when going crazy to the weasel tune, however, Curtis Iaukea is a much better and intimidating opponent than say, Al Hill, and extra humor is added to the scene watching Derita tackle an opponent so much bigger than him.  Curly never really had that luxury, or the luxury of the budget and time either.  The actual fight itself is better here than in any Columbia short where this thing was attempted.  Humor wise, though, my biggest laugh came in the scene where the Stooges, and fowl (!) had utter milk sprayed all over them. 

      Story wise, this film is fine and moves along at a nice pace, but I will say it takes about fifteen minutes before the boys feel like more than supporting players.  Once those fifteen minutes pass, this feels like a Stooge film.  Overall an enjoyable film, just not all-time classic stuff.  However, for a fan who has seen the shorts 1,000 times over, I'm glad these features exist.  I may have watched this only two or three times before, and it's been years.


Weekly Episode Discussions / The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962)
« on: January 13, 2017, 08:17:29 PM »

      Another Derita era feature, and at the very least, another interesting film.  Not as good as Hercules, mind you, but good.  Comparing this to Hercules, it strikes me how in Hercules, I find every character enjoyable, even the romantic couple, who actually play an integral part of that film.  With THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT, the young couple is completely disposable, but at least they don't take up too much of the film.  The aliens are nowhere near as cool as Hercules.  Really, they were a one joke thing with the funny talk and subtitles, and it got old after a while.  The Stooges reading subtitles at the end was at least a nice twist, so I'll give this film points on that.

      The most interesting this about THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT is that this is the most risqué, relatively speaking, the boys ever got.  1962 was the waning days of the production code, so they got away with things you wouldn't see or hear in a 1940's film. Examples - Emil Sitka accidentally throwing out a "What the Hell" when describing his machine.  The boys, now older men, hesitantly watching an attractive young naked woman, covered in soap, taking a bubble bath.  The machine knocking down a wall, revealing young girls in a shower.  Larry's immortal line, "Look out, you'll knock him on his brass."  Finally, there is a bra landing from the sky on a general.  The general then commands one of his men to put the bra back where it belongs. 

     The boys themselves are fine if you go in with the expectation that they're older and Derita is the third Stooge.  Taken on their own terms, perfectly pleasant.  Perfectly pleasant Stooges is better than no Stooges at all.  Compared to old Stooges though, no dice.  Compare the gag where Derita is hammering a nail into the wall, the nail pointing the wrong way.  Done in the Curly era, Curly is a ball of energy when doing the task, and Moe is angry and quick to tell Curly what's wrong.  It's that sudden burst of energy by both brothers that make the gag so funny.  Here, the gag goes on longer and is patiently explained.  Again, fine on its own terms, as is most of the film, but pales compared to the old days.

      A few more notes in that yes, Emil Sitka gets a nice role and is in fine form in this one.  The nuclear weapon theme is perhaps a bit too unnerving a theme for a comedy, especially with the shit going on today, so perhaps I long for the innocence of a Hercules and time travel.  The pie gag, again, forced as Hell.  I think they thought of the pies at this point as a signature that had to be pigeonholed in.  So overall impressions, not as good as last week's film, but interesting for the somewhat risqué bits and just the pleasure of seeing the boys go out on top commercially.  They're pleasant to watch for an hour and a half, can't ask for much more.


Weekly Episode Discussions / The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962)
« on: January 06, 2017, 07:58:26 PM »

      Full disclosure - THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES is the only Derita era feature I saw as a child, so nostalgia may paint my opinion on this one.  It was on television and my parents taped it for me on a blank VHS tape.  If that doesn't scream child of the 80's, nothing does.  I believe my Dad also saw this on its initial release and the other Derita features I never saw until my twenties.  Ironically, with this film and the other features going forward, I never bought them on DVD, so yes, appropriately enough, I'm watching the commercially available VHS versions!  I think to this point, LOVE HAPPY would be the only other film I reviewed on VHS, everything else DVD.

      As for the film itself, much better than the previous two features.  Rocket recycled a lot of old routines and was brought down a bit by the talking unicorn while Snow White was a film that didn't have an audience, trying to be too many things to too many people.  HERCULES feels like a fresh Stooge film that understands its audience, young males, and perhaps middle aged and older males who never grew up.  I plead guilty.

      While Snow White has the strange combination of musical numbers, fairy tales, sword fights, and slapstick; Hercules is time travel, slapstick, monsters, adventure, and action.  In other words, all things I find enjoyable.  In the early 60's, Steve Reeves and others were making Hercules films while THE TIME MACHINE from 1960 had the time travel element seen here and 1959's BEN-HUR had a chariot race/battle like one seen here.  Good sources were drawn from to make an enjoyable film.

      HERCULES is a good, if not classic comedy.  That said, HERCULES doesn't need to be a classic comedy because of all the other enjoyable elements listed above.  The Three Stooges at this point have a third Stooge in Derita who simply gets the job done, nothing more, nothing less.  The only part he is slightly annoying is when he woo woos like Curly when seeing the two headed cyclops, but Moe thankfully stops him.  Other than that, Derita is serviceable and a welcome presence.  I just for the life of me can't tell you anything unique he did here.  Then again, maybe I'm being unfair, because at this point, serviceable, and not unique, may have been what he was hired for.  After all, his name is "Curly" Joe, a blatant nod to the past.

      The scene where the boys are in the ladies powder room, shall we say, show them to be older and a bit ashamed.  A 1939 Curly would not be able to contain himself, but here they are older gentlemen.  Still a fun scene, though.  The already mentioned two headed cyclops is cheesy fun, and Hal Smith and Emil Sitka are both to be praised for their comic turns.  I also enjoy the messy opening scene and the galley stuff is fantastic.  Derita' calm down pills do make a fun motif throughout the film.  I will also add, the pies at the end of this film, just like in SNOW WHITE, seem completely forced here.

      Overall, a simple, fun film with a lot of elements I find to be enjoyable.  The Three Stooges being in it, even at this later stage, is icing on the cake.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Snow White and the Three Stooges (1961)
« on: December 30, 2016, 05:15:38 PM »

Watch SNOW WHITE AND THE THREE STOOGES in the link above

      The Three Stooges have some legal troubles with Columbia, go to Fox for one film, and SNOW WHITE AND THE THREE STOOGES is the result.  Filmed in technicolor, there are really two ways to review this film - as a Three Stooges film, and as a Snow White/Robin Hood film.  I will attempt to do both.

      As a Stooge film, in the traditional sense, a complete failure.  When it comes to Stooge comedy, we have an OK opening scene where their faces appear in book form, interrupting a serious prologue at opportune times.  We have the best comic scene, which is enjoyable but hardly classic, of the boys selling hair tonic.  Then we have a pie scene where the bad guy gets pies in the face to disorient him, really a lame excuse to have some pies in a Stooge comedy.  This takes about maybe 10 minutes of a 107 minute film.  The Stooges do appear a lot in the film, mainly as likable characters trying to help Snow White and Quattro.  They do fine in this role as actors and are perfectly acceptable in this capacity.  The problem is several people could have done their roles in this film, while only they are capable of being The Three Stooges, something they do very little of here.  Bear in mind Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello worked in the fairy tale genre as well in BABES IN TOYLAND and JACK IN THE BEANSTALK, respectively.  Each team's trademark humor is on display much better in their films than it is here for The Three Stooges.

      As a film itself, there are some good points.  The production values are great, I love the sets and scenery.  The outdoor forest type stuff where the queen's men are chasing the Stooges and Snow White is great as is the castle and dungeon sword fight stuff, which reminds me very much of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, a film I love.  The Snow White stuff?  Not really my wheelhouse, but I admit it's a timeless story.  Carol Heiss gets some skating scenes in, and she's obviously good, but again, not my wheelhouse.  The musical numbers...again, not my wheelhouse, but very well produced.  Herein lies this film's main problem, it tries to appeal to too many people yet in doing so, appeals to very few.  I like the action Robin Hood type stuff when it's there and like the idea of The Three Stooges being in this film, it's just that their comedy is diluted.  The Snow White, ice skating, and musical stuff appeals to another audience.  I get the feeling the producers were trying to appeal to both boy and girl children when this probably would have been a better film had they focused on making certain areas stronger and eliminating others.  You know, less music and Snow White, more Stooge comedy and Robin Hood, or vice versa.

      A fascinating movie, a great chance to see the boys with good production values and color, but a waste of good Stooge comedy.

5/10 as a film
1/10 as a Stooge comedy

Weekly Episode Discussions / Have Rocket -- Will Travel (1959)
« on: December 23, 2016, 06:41:47 PM »

      .....and we have finally come to the feature film era with third Stooge Curly Joe Derita.  HAVE ROCKET -- WILL TRAVEL is certainly an interesting film, if not an all time classic.  The boys do feel regenerated, and with their new success on television, I think they figured out what made them successful.   No need to reinvent the wheel with a Besser, or even Shemp character.  Curly is their commercial fortune, and since the real Curly has passed away, they get a guy to impersonate him, in this case, Joe Derita.  Derita was a reliable comedian who can deliver a line, take a fall, do a double take, yet lacked any real character.  Since the boys at this point were no longer trying to reinvent the wheel, he was a seasoned pro who filled a void, nothing more, nothing less.  Any KISS fans here?  Same situation with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer being Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

      As a feature film, this is to be praised in the sense that the whole time, you are aware you are watching a Three Stooges film.  You can say the same for all five Columbia features.  I say this because a lot of Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, and to a lesser extent, Laurel and Hardy features have the romantic couple and musical numbers that take away from the comedians.  Yes, there is a romantic couple here, but their screen time is very minimal.  It also must be said the dialogue during the twenty five minute mark is so unbelievably bad it is comically entertaining.  Just watch it, I'm not one for quoting dialogue in reviews.  Pure cheese, and the male is creepishly forceful.

      The first half of the film is the boys rehashing old routines competently.  Again, no reinventing the wheel, just comfort food.  The scene where Moe thinks Larry is caught in the pipe under the sink from FALSE ALARMS is there.  The classic pipe scene from A PLUMBING WE WILL GO is done by Curly Joe.  Of course, not even a patch on the original.  If one never saw Curly Howard do this routine, you'd think Curly Joe was OK, but knowing what Curly can do, there's no comparison.  Still, OK on its own, I guess.  The best stuff is the boys in the Rocket ship, which is actually original material.  Their weight knocking the ship over and Larry's adventures with gravity are quite entertaining.  I'll also state Moe call Derita a "baby hippopotamus" got a laugh out of me, one of my favorite Moe insults.

      Once on Venus, we're at the weakest part of the film.  The spider is entertainingly hokey, but once we get to the unicorn and the song, it's pure kiddie fare.  Rehashing plumbing gags is understandable, but the talking horse stuff, though this time a unicorn, is not.  Then once away from the unicorn, it turns into some strange sci-fi thing where the boys are shrunken and have body doubles made of them by some really cheesy boxed robot with arms.  I do like the shrunken boys gesturing approving gestures when their larger doubled counterparts perform slapstick on each other, especially Moe's nod.  That got me a laugh.  Derita's gag with the mirror is funny and his best part of the film.

      Once back on Earth, ten minutes of recycled HOI POLLOI party stuff, including the immortal spring on the ass dancing gag done by Derita.  Again, competently done, but no reinventing the wheel here.  The guests even fight each other, just like the original. 

      Overall, an interesting film, and cool to see the boys in a feature length film with some sci-fi stuff.  Like I said years ago about WOMAN HATERS, this kind of film is not the reason why I'm a fan, but since I am a fan, I'm glad something like this exists.  Definitely interesting, and I do remember the other Columbia features being a little better, but let's see what a fresh viewing will bring.  With next week's film, I'm proud to say I spent less than $5.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Caught On the Bounce (1952) - Joe Besser
« on: December 21, 2016, 08:22:20 AM »

Watch CAUGHT ON THE BOUNCE in the link above, I think either footage is cut or it's sped up, hence the 12 plus minute running time.

      Definitely the worst solo Besser short so far.  Basically, Joe has a heavy wife in Maxine Gates and a son.  They go packing on a trip to visit his aunt to borrow money, land on a train where the aunt happens to be, and accidentally stumble upon stolen money that gets them a reward.

      Your enjoyment of this film depends on how much you like fat jokes, because there are a lot of them.  Joe and Maxine trying to hug, Maxine falling through a chair and needing to be plyed out, a porter trying to get Maxine on the upper berth of abunk and being flattened when she falls on him, a robber being bounced around pinball style between the bellies of Joe and get the point.  The occasional belly bounce is OK, but here, they milk the fat stuff ad nauseum. 

      There is also a scene where the son gets caught in a trunk and Joe and Maxine are trying to get him out.  More uncomfortable than comic, the kid is complaining of how hot he is and that he is suffocating.  Really destroys any potential comic vibe. 

      I will say Joe takes a few good items to the face, the tobacco/fudge scene is OK, and the pacing of the film works OK.  It's really just the comedy doesn't fall into my level of personal taste.  If the things I mention above don't bother you, up my score a few points.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Sappy Bull Fighters (1959)
« on: December 15, 2016, 07:12:59 PM »

Watch SAPPY BULL FIGHTERS in the link above

      We've come to end of the shorts with SAPPY BULL FIGHTERS, a remake of WHAT'S THE MATADOR.  Like most of these remakes, I have very little to say.  The bottom line is this is mostly the same film as MATADOR, but with a lesser third Stooge and lesser supporting cast.  Strange how Besser can pull off Curly routines just fine in FRAIDY CAT but here seems so forced.  The haunting a house routine, for example, it's almost as if he's trying to be funny, with that smirk on his face and all, while Curly delivers the line in like he's being serious.  Perhaps Jules White directed Besser that way, who knows?  Either way, the results are not effective. There's also a part in the beginning where the beginnings of a Stooge slapstick brouhaha is happening, and as soonas Moe is about to go postal on Besser, Besser simply tells Moe to stop and they focus on the briefcase.  This wussifying of Moe is the absolute worst thing about the Besser era, the old Moe would have let Besser have it.  Hey, at least Greta is pretty, but really, the original short is better and there's no reason to watch this outside of historical interest.  Absolutely nothing new, a sad way to end the 190.

      Man, I'm kind of bummed, I'm going to miss this.  We do have six Derita features and some Besser solos left, and whatever Paul Pain does, I hope you guys stick around (I will), as I know he'll do something good. Still, these 190 shorts are the meat of why we're Stooge fans, and it's been a crazy ride.  The Derita features should be better to review than most of these remakes lately.  I noticed when doing The Marx Brothers and PARDON US from Laurel and Hardy, features have more to review and are easier to talk about for the most part.  Should be a fun six weeks, but still, can't believe we're done with the 190.  Can't fucking believe it.  Man!


Weekly Episode Discussions / Triple Crossed (1959)
« on: December 09, 2016, 03:32:43 PM »

Watch TRIPLE CROSSED in the link above

      When watching TRIPLE CROSSED, one question comes to mind - Why?  What is the point of this film?  OK, at the time, to move product on a cheap budget, we all know this and this has been discussed elsewhere ad nauseum.  But as fans today, this hasn't much to offer.  A straight remake of HE COOKED HIS GOOSE, this is an ideal money saver for the Columbia shorts department since the Stooges had so many separate scenes, it was very easy to replace Shemp with Joe and mostly leave Larry and Moe's old scenes in tact.  In the latter's case, in this 15:50 short, new footage of Moe does not appear until roughly the 12:50 mark!  Connie Cezan does a Joe Palma for Mary Ainslee as well, though Ms. Ainslee was still very much with us in 1957 when this was filmed.

      The original HE COOKED HIS GOOSE is an interesting experimental film I'm glad they made once but really don't need to see made again, except here, it's made again.  Minor new scenes are Joe and the turkey, Joe and the frog sandwich, and Joe winking about being a playboy in the end.  OK stuff, but nothing major, and not enough to justify why I would watch this again.  Sorry guys, don't have more to add this week about this product, and product is 100% the correct word, no art whatsoever.

      Next week, our 190 short journey ends.  I still can't believe it.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Aim, Fire, Scoot (1952) - Joe Besser
« on: December 06, 2016, 06:34:56 PM »

      Basically, again, another army comedy.  Again, Besser is teamed with Hawthorne, and unlike the last film, Besser doesn't get quite as much interaction with his partner.  I think this is due to the fact that being an army comedy, Besser gets more time dealing with a seargent as his straight man versus Hawthorne.  It's the basic patsy getting the seargent upset stuff we've seen a million times, including the "present arms" gag that involves throwing the rifle at the seargent that's done in BOOBS IN ARMS.  I have to say, Besser's "not so hard" bit works better with the sarge than Moe, I think Moe, for whatever reason, was so mellowed out by the Besser era while the sarge had fire.  We also get a bit of a play on the cannon gag from HALF-SHOT SHOOTERS where I won't give it away.  I'll just say it's the final gag of the short and lame because you'd think all parties would be better able to defend themselves.  Again, no spoiler, but if you see it, you'll know what I mean.

      The best stuff is at the beginning.  The caught ina draft gag is surreal and bizarre, so that gets a big thumbs up.  Again, won't give it away, but it's at the beginning.  Joe and Hawthorne doing push ups near a skunk is a great gag, as are Joe push ups, which involve him putting his neck up and down.  These gags, plus Joe's energy, really carry this short.  Angela Stevens is really pretty and a bit underused, and overall, this is a good, but mostly basic, army film.  At least they didn't put Joe in jealous husband dramas!


Weekly Episode Discussions / Oil's Well That Ends Well (1958)
« on: December 02, 2016, 05:43:13 PM »

Watch OIL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL in the link above

      Easily the best Joe Besser Stooge short and the only one that feels like a Three Stooges short in most ways.  Yeah, I enjoy the space ones, but those feel like a different genre.  OIL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL is a short film that contains Three Stooges doing comic routines.  Moe is their leader, (saith Homer Simpson); boulders explode, rocks fall on heads, bunk beds are a hassle, and a couple of comic scenes actually get extended and focused, so welcome in an era that usually lacks good comic writing.  The budget even feels relatively higher with a few different changes of scenery, including outdoors! My theory is since they saved money on lack of supporting players, they took time on script and art direction.  Considering most of the supporting players trotted out during the Besser era, this is a welcome change.

      The cow scene is quite funny, I love Larry's steak line.  They milk this gag for all it's worth, and I swear, no pun intended.  Even the cow gets a close up double take reacting to their stupidity.  One brief shot of an animal acting naturally got more laughs than two films of talking horses!  The out door scene near the rocks is excellent, Joe breaking the fourth wall mouthing to the audience perhaps being one of the few liked Besser moments by people.  Rocks explode and it feels messy in that Stoogian slapstick way.  Beautiful.  Of course, the highlight of the entire Besser era is the bunk bed scene.  It is the only scene where the three of them do extended slapstick and truly gel together.  Joe's leg getting caught in Moe's pants and Besser proclaiming he's being followed, Larry being flipped around like a dummy...because it is a dummy, Joe standing on top of poor Moe as Moe tries to push up Joe to the top bunk in vain, all funny stuff.  I actually laughed out loud a few times watching this.  I also enjoy Besser proclaiming he's scared of his wishing abilities at the beginning too.  Just very random and out of nowhere, yet so funny.  Gives Besser a child like quality.

      A part of me wishes I could give this a ten, but I'll nitpick and only give this a nine.  There are a couple of great scenes of Moe and Larry doing some old school interactions, and I wish the writers could have found a way to integrate Joe.  Hey, he worked fine in the bed bunk scene, why not?  Secondly, bad character writing in the beginning.  Would it have been too much to ask to paint the boys better than being excited about riches when their Dad may be terminal?  Something that could have easily been changed, but overall, this is easily the best Joe Besser short, and unless if I have a major change of heart the next two weeks, that last good short they ever released.  Also, funny to think this was filmed a few days after SWEET AND HOT!


Weekly Episode Discussions / 'Fraidy Cat (1951) - Joe Besser
« on: November 29, 2016, 07:16:46 PM »

      'FRAIDY CAT is a remake of DIZZY DETECTIVES, and I'm going commit Stooge blasphemy here and say I like the Besser version better.  Two main reasons for this.  The first is that the Besser version is a bit tighter.  DIZZY DETECTIVES is one of the longer Stooge films, and part of this is because of unnecessary stock footage from PARDON MY SCOTCH.  'FRAIDY CAT does not have this and as a result, is two minutes shorter.  Secondly in the hands of The Three Stooges, this is simply a good short out of dozens of good shorts, with several of these good  shorts being much better than DIZZY DETECTIVES.  In the hands of the much smaller Joe Besser canon, this film is a revelation.

      Two revelations in fact.  The first revelation is Hawthorne, the straight man Besser is teamed with.  I'll get laughs out of Hawthorne more than most of you because he looks freakishly like one of my best friends.  Tall and the exact same face with glasses.  Just Picture Hawthorne a bit heavier with a balder head and you have my friend, it's uncanny.  Personal stuff aside, Hawthorne is a great straight man and has wonderful chemistry with Besser.  Their temperaments compliment one another and their lines flow together perfectly.  The second revelation is that Besser can handle Curly material just fine.  The guillotine scene, the mask on the foot scene he thinks is a head stalking him, and the rocking chair scene with the cat's tail, all done by Besser comparatively well.  There's only one Curly, but Besser was a good comedian in his own right more than capable of handling this material.  Absolute proof in my eyes if Besser was in another era with good scripts, he would have held his own as a Stooge.  I think in 1956 and 1957, nobody cared about the Stooge shorts anymore, and it showed in the writing.  I don't think even Curly could have saved that era were he alive and healthy.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Flying Saucer Daffy (1958)
« on: November 24, 2016, 06:27:58 AM »

Watch FLYING SAUCER DAFFY in the link above

      We have come to the last Three Stooges film ever shot, but since we're reviewing these in release order, three more shorts to go, not to mention the Derita features after.  However, to me, this isn't really a Three Stooges film.  Very rarely in the sixteen shorts did Moe and Larry find team chemistry with Joe, and here, the writers didn't even try.  What we basically have is a Joe Besser solo short with Moe and Larry in strong supporting roles.  Viewed through that lens, I think FLYING SAUCER DAFFY is a good film.  If you hate Joe Besser, this film is not for you.  However, if you like Joe as I do and just never found him to be a good Stooge, this short is fine.  If you also happen to like cheesy 50's sci-fi, this also works.

      As mentioned below, Joe is basically a Cinderella type character who gets abused by his alcoholic aunt and his two cousins, played by Moe and Larry.  In this aunt's eyes, Moe and Larry can do no wrong, and I don't know about you guys, but I actually enjoy seeing Besser get his slapstick commupence against Moe and Larry.  This short also proves, without a shadow of a doubt, Joe takes hits.  Plenty of pokes, bonks, and pastry for Joe in this one.

      I'm also a sucker for this 50's sci-if stuff.  I love the outdoor settings, the fake flying saucer stuff, and yes, the space alien babes.  How can I not love the space alien babes?  They're cute, helpful, and full of celluloid cheese.  In other words, fun.  FLYING SAUCER DAFFY may not be a great example of the art of The Three Stooges, and I understand it's not for everyone.  However, as an interesting, of its time, distraction starring Joe Besser, I think FLYING SAUCER DAFFY works fine as a piece of entertainment.  If you guys can't tell, the space trilogy some of you guys don't like is the best of the Besser era for me.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Dizzy Yardbird (1950) - Joe Besser
« on: November 22, 2016, 07:12:57 PM »

      Last week's short shocked me with how good it was, as it had interesting characters, a unique plot, great performances, and a perfect pace.  Does lightning strike twice?  Is the Joe Besser series up there with early 40's Stooge greatness?  Well, not exactly.  Forgetting for a moment that the latter shorts of this mere 10 short series are recycles of earlier shorts, DIZZY YARDBIRDS brings the series down back to Earth.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad short, it's perfectly acceptable entertainment.  The perfect adjective for this week's solo entry would be - stock.

      What he have here is basically an army comedy.  It's released in 1950, you know, after SHOULDER ARMS, DOUGHBOYS, BOOBS IN ARMS, BUCK PRIVATES, etc. etc. etc., yadda yadda yadda.  Soldier who is incompetent?  Check, that's Joe Besser.  Angry sgt.?  Check, that's Dick Wessel.  Incompetent soldier has to peel potatoes and annoys equally angry cook?  Check.  Also, not an army cliche, but two superior officers bet for and against Joe becoming a soldier who with proper grooming, can be promoted in a month.  Kind of Hoi Polloish, no?  Perfectly normal scenarios we've seen dozens of times, kind of like slapstick comedy comfort food.

      Joe is naive and incapable of seeing the mayhem he causes in this one, and even at the beginning, is shown to be a grown man living with his mother.  Not bad, but again, stock.  Compare to last week when Joe was basically a normal grown man (engaged with his own place), with one really weird habit of chasing fire truck.  I find that contrast funnier and more original.  I do like the table varnishing scene, even if it contains more character actors than Joe.  Great job by Emil Sitka in said scene.

      Overall, a good short, 15 minutes of fun, but nothing that stands out amongst a slew of other comedies.  Shorts of this description usually get a.....


Weekly Episode Discussions / Sweet and Hot (1958)
« on: November 19, 2016, 07:49:41 AM »

Watch SWEET AND HOT in the link above.

For shits and giggles, below is my review of SWEET AND HOT I wrote 15 years ago!  Where has time gone?  Who would've guessed back then I now suffer from half these symptoms?  [pie]

"DO NOT VIEW SWEET AND HOT IF YOU ARE.....pregnant; are on the medications prozac, welbutrin, zyloft, or viagra; have diabetes; high blood pressure; high cholestorol; are on chemotherapy; or like good television.SIDE EFFECTS OF SWEET AND HOT MAY INCLUDE....diarehea, leprosy, impotence, demonic posession, indigestion, vomiting, sterilization, scholiosis, spontaneous combustion, loss of hair, blindness, suicidal tendencies, clinical depression, profuse sweating, difficulty in breathing, seizures, heart attacks, strokes, dry mouth, chicken pox, and finally, death."

      OK, back to 2016 and the more mature (clears throat) version of Metaldams.  On a personal note, one of my best friends, who is 21 years older than me, was born the final day of shooting SWEET AND HOT, so I have a funny way of viewing him now. I will say this much, SWEET AND HOT is one of the more interesting Stooge films.  Good?  Not exactly, but interesting.  Ultimately, SWEET AND HOT is a vehicle for Muriel Landers.  The Three Stooges are supporting players and aren't even a team, as Moe plays....wait for it.....Dr. Hugo Gansamacher! 

      Since this is really a film that centers around Muriel Landers, I will discuss her first.  She can sing and dance, I'll give her that.  It's just not my style.  The problem is they are also trying to make a comedian out of her.  Excuse me for saying it, but Ms. Landers has a figure quite opposite of Etherelda Leopold...she was fat. I bring this up because a lot of the comedy sadly revolves around this fact.  A handshake hurts Joe, a hug to Larry hurts him while crushing his cigar in his pocket, her sitting on the couch causes the earth to quake....yeah folks, fat girl jokes.  Lame.  I also would like to add the flashback sequence is one of the most unfortunate Stooge scenes ever.  She dresses like a little girl (if you've ever seen Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in this get up, they actually look similar), and the father is played by Moe, chasing her with a whip!  Eye poking Curly is funny, child abuse is disturbing, and yeah, she's on a couch trying to overcome the trauma.  Some topics just don't make for good comedy.

      As for the Stooges, Joe gets one little tap dancing sequence but is pretty much a non entity other than that.  Larry does a funny little dance in the Ed Woodian farm animal montage sequence and gets to play some violin, so that's cool, at least.  As for Moe, I kind of like Dr. Hugo, I would just prefer this kind of characterization in a non Stooge film.  Throw this role in an Andy Clyde film, it'd be a nice little character role for Moe.  Here?  The problem with the Besser era is that since they rarely found chemistry as a team, and Moe as the boss suffered the most.  Here, they didn't even bother trying to make Moe part of the team.

      A very interesting short as far as curios go, just sadly, not a very good one.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Waiting in the Lurch (1949) - Joe Besser
« on: November 16, 2016, 02:33:55 PM »

      An absolute shame this one's not viewable on line, as this is way better than any Stooge short Besser appeared in.  I am really becoming convinced Joe Besser was a good comedian who joined The Three Stooges at their lowest point budget and writing wise and didn't have much chemistry with Moe and Larry.  Joe is a ball of energy in this one, and he is given a good script with a great supporting cast playing interesting and funny characters.  No Greta Thyssen, no Milton Frome, no Muriel Landers, no Harriet Tarler, no Gene "one hit wonder" Roth, no talking horses, but instead, memorable supporting actors with good roles.  Makes a world of a difference.  Would Joe have found chemistry with Moe and Larry in better times?  Who knows, but he was a fine comedian in his own right.

      The basic story is Joe is supposed to marry Christine McIntyre, who is as beautiful and full of life as ever, yet he can't make his own wedding because of some habit he can't kick.  What habit, you ask?  Drink?  Drugs?  Gambling?  Women?  No to all of the above.  The answer is chasing fires.  He's obsessed with being at the scene of fires, and his apartment is filled with fireman paraphernalia (complete with pole to glide downstairs), and had an entertaining butler who enables Joe's habit.  The other guy who wants to marry Christine is a funny Grady Sutton like wimp, the psychiatrist who tries to cure Joe is over the top with a cowboy obsession, and Vernon Dent is great as Christine's father.

      The budget looks decent for this one compared to a Besser era Stooge short, as there's loads of scenery changes, and even the chase at the wedding at the end is entertaining.  It really is amazing what good actors, interesting characters, and a creative script can accomplish.  My favorite bit would be at the beginning when a crazed Joe is holding Christine while he's wearing a fireman's hat, water dripping from the hat onto poor Christine.  Great reactions.  It can't be stressed enough, Christine is wonderful here, confused about her lovers, and really funny and charming at the end, which I won't give away.

      If you get a chance to see this one, please do.  A travesty Shemp solo never got an original script this good, Shemp would've also been great in Joe's role. 


Weekly Episode Discussions / Pies and Guys (1958)
« on: November 11, 2016, 12:09:23 PM »

Watch PIES AND GUYS in the link above

      Kudos to Desmond for actually finding subtle bits of business to talk about in this short.  To me, this falls under remake category, and as we all know, I have a Hell of a time finding anything to say with these.

      I am going to rank PIES AND GUYS a hair higher than HALF-WITS HOLIDAY for probably the most obvious reason, and that would be a healthy Joe versus a depressingly sick Curly.  Joe Besser is a fine comedian and does an OK job with some weaker material.  I don't care what version we're watching, I just never found the eating of invisible food with dubbed noises to be funny.  It simply makes no sense why they don't practice manners with real food, and frankly would have been funnier watching them actually make a mess of themselves.  Still, Besser does a fine job with what he's given, a shame it isn't much.  Ultimately, this story is definitive with HOI POLLOI, where you get a definitive Stooge line up in peak years playing with a great supporting cast with funny gags, smooth story flow, and endlessly funny situations.  Think Curly with the spring, or psychic Moe with Phyllis Crane on the couch, or Harry Holman's frustrated reactions...does anything here compare?  I say not.

      Back to the supporting cast in the Besser era, again, very workman like.  Passable actors, but nothing more.  I miss Vernon.  Emil is good revising an old role, at least.   I also miss Barbara Slater, who we at least get a couple of shots from stock footage.  You guys all know I agree she was the hubba-hubba kid, if you will.  One more interesting note.  I've always noticed how morose Moe was in the old pie fight footage, understandably so.  Notice how much more energetic he is in the newer footage which storyline wise, is only seconds later. 


Weekly Episode Discussions / Jitter Bughouse (1948) - Joe Derita
« on: November 09, 2016, 09:01:29 PM »

      Years ago, I called this one of the worst things related to the Stooges.  Upon a fresh viewing, I can't say this thing is flat out awful, but it's not the kind of thing I would go out of my to see either.  Basically, Joe Derita is the emcee for some three piece group (bass, guitar, accordion) called The Nov-Elites, and as billed, they are a true novelty act.  They're talented guys, but not exactly my cup of tea.  At one point, they are impersonating different musical personalities from what I can gather.  Not being well versed in 40's music, the only impersonation I recognized was Al Jolson during the "Mammy" bit.  A King Diamond impersonation would be is more in my wheelhouse.  At various other points, they scat sing, play fast 12 bar swing type stuff, and wear different costumes.  Kind of the like the thing you see on one of these talent shows on TV these days where you see an act with a bit of talent, but no long lasting substance. 

      As far as Derita, he does dance at one point quite uniquely and takes that great sideways fall I eluded to in a previous short...must've been in his burlesque act.  There is one great gag involving Derita in a piano stool.  Other than that?  Christine and Emil are a bit wasted in stock roles and there's a cute kitten.  I guess it's also worth noting for the first two minutes, they are almost trying to make the Nov-Elites act like The Three Stooges with Derita as their Healy, but they stop that quick, thank God.

      A unique short, but when I'm through, I must ponder, "What the Hell did I just watch?"  Out of everything I reviewed, I freely admit this is the short I have the least understanding of that question.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Fifi Blows Her Top (1958)
« on: November 04, 2016, 04:53:00 PM »

In film class, the above image is known as "mise en scene"

      Like a friend of mine would text me when I ask her if her day is well and it isn't, "Meh."  It's funny, overall the Besser era is not as bad as I remember.  There are a few good shorts, and I always had this impression of Besser being this whiny, clingy kind of guy.  He's not always like this, but he is most like this in HOOFS AND GOOFS and this week's short, FIFI BLOWS HER TOP.  Interestingly enough, back in the days when AMC aired only 130 shorts and six Bessers, those two were among the six, so my view was limited.  Here he basically cries about some girl he knew years ago, and I find it gets old after a while.

      A combination remake of LOVE AT FIRST BITE and Laurel and Hardy's UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE and BLOCK-HEADS, all three are far superior films.  The commonality of LOVE AT FIRST BITE is the boys all have solo scenes with girls they met in the service.  Ideal for penny pinching Columbia at this point, since with Moe and Larry, they could easily replay the scenes released in 1950.  LOVE AT FIRST BITE has some great slapstick and a literally explosive ending which I consider classic.  Here, whiny Joe takes a bonk, falls on the couch, Fifi caresses him, and Joe is happy she loves him.  I prefer my Stooge endings to have explosions and people being splashed by water than weak hits and happy love endings.  Lame.

      As for the girl in the trunk scene, done in the above mentioned Laurel and Hardy films, again, lame.  There's a hint of sexual tension, danger, and build up in the Laurel and Hardy version.  No doubt a pre code Thelma Todd acting all proper (Mr. Hah-day), yet wearing something nice and silky underneath contributes, as does Edgar Kennedy's jealous husband who likes to fool around act.  Wanda Dupree's Fifi is a high strung French caricature while Phil Van Zandt is more abusive than a comical cad like Edgar Kennedy.  Also, poor Larry, the lines he has to read to explain that they are taking about Fifi the dog versus wife are extremely unbelievable.  Were the writers even trying at this point?  Speaking of Phil Van Zandt, he of CITIZEN KANE and better past Stooge roles, this is his last appearance, sadly.  He'd kill himself almost exactly one year after this was filmed.


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