Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Three Stooges Love 'em or Hate 'em PART II

What happened that would make the Three Stooges one of the
hottest acts in show business after they had been fired from Columbia
Studios in 1958. All this came about because Columbia's television
subsidiary, Screen Gems released a package of Three Stooges two
reelers to the television market.
Columbia didn't think anything would come of the release of these
shorts, but within months the Stooges comedies were among the most
popular daytime syndicated television on the market.
"Thanks to TV and thousands of viewers, mostly children, the Three
Stooges were back on top.
By this time both Curly and Shemp had passed away so Moe need
another stooge to join him and Larry. This they found in Joe Besser.

A photo that was sent to me when I joined The Three Stooges Fan
Club in 1962.

I've jumped ahead of myself (on purpose) so now I will rewind to where Jules
White had just hired the Three Stooges for the two-reeler shorts. This all
started in 1934. Shemp had left the act when they were with Ted Healy and
Curly had taken his place. The second short filmed was "Punch Drunks"and
this was a beauty where Curly was a waiter and whenever he hears the tune
"Pop Goes The Weasel" he would go beserk. Moe was a fight manager and
he hired Curly as a fighter because he knew whenever he played "Pop Goes
The Weasel", Curly would go crazy and "flatten" his opponent.
Jules White, Del Lord, Charley Chase (he who was a well known comedy
actor in his own right) and Edward Bernds all directed the best of the
Three Stooges shorts. Titles to keep an eye out as these were perfect
examples of Stooges films were "Pardon my Scotch" where the Stooges were
carpenters. "Hoi Polloi", "Ants in the Pantry", "Dizzy Doctors", "Calling all
Curs" and "An Ache in Every Stake." In this the Stooges are icemen and
Curley had to deliver a huge block of ice up a long set of stairs and when he
gets to the top all is left is a small piece of ice. "We forgot to allow for
shrinkage" explained Moe, so he sent Curly up with two blocks of ice.
Same result. Next idea and so it went on. So, so funny, a classic.

From "An Ache In Every Stake"

Another was "A Plumbing We Will Go" and they were plumbers. They were
looking for a leak and Curly found it so to try and stop the leak he attached
a piece of pipe to the old pipe. The leak restarted so he added another piece
of pipe then another and another. The result you can see on this next photo.
This was also a classic.

From "A Plumbing We Will Go"

There were a lot of actors that played over and over in the Stooges shorts.
One of these was Vernon Dent. He appeared in 68 of the shorts and was in
more films than any other supporting player. Vernon worked with the
Stooges for 19 years from 1936 until 1955. He was a great foil to the
Stooges antics. Vernon retired from show business and later contracted
diabetes and as he was a Christian Scientist he died in the early 1960s
after refusing to take insulin. Whenever you saw him on screen as a cop or
a doctor or a mad scientist you knew that he was going to become a
bumbling fool and be outsmarted by the Three Stooges.

Vernon Dent, Curly, Moe and Larry

By the 1940s The Three Stooges were at the peak of their success, then
tragedy struck when Curly had a stroke in 1945. He was only 45, but
surprisingly enough he continued to work on the shorts not long after his
stroke. Curly struggled to continue in the act, but he simply couldn't
recapture his vitality that distinguished him as the star member of the
Three Stooges. Before the stroke the various Moe "assults" on Curly and
Larry had begun in most of the shorts. These included the Eye Pokes (in
which a violin or ukulele pluck made the sound), Hair Ripping especially
when Moe would rip out some of Larry's hair (the sound was caused by
tearing a piece of cloth); The Forehead Slap; The Triple Slap; The Nose
Tweak and The Hand-to-Hand Head Clunk.
One day Curly kept forgetting his lines so he threw himself on the floor
and kept spinning around like a top making that "woo-woo" sound of his.
That then became a part of Curly's routine as did the flapping of his hand
on top of his head while going "whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo" of which I must
admit I'm very good at doing this routine and sound.
Then in 1947 Curly had another stroke while filming "Half-Wits Holiday."
The assistant director called for Curly and he didn't answer. Moe went to
get him and found him with his head slumped on his chest. It was apparent
that Curly would not be able to return to rejoin the act, so another stooge
would be needed to complete the third stooge.


Peter said...

I can feel the tension building Wazza, don't let us down now will you.

Jim said...

Hi Warren -- You have done a lot of work on these 'episodes.' I wish I could remember all that.

The next step is to see what all the library here has in Three Stooges movies.

Hale McKay said...

It feels like I'm reliving watches those two-reelers on TV as a kid.

I loved the one with Ice delivery.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wazza, just came back to Brisbane from US and visited the steps from Ache in Every Stake.

Got the address and directions from