10/23/07

THE STOOGE-A-POLITAN OPERA

womanhaterstitlecard

Below is part one of the first official "Three Stooges" Columbia short film, the one and only "Women Haters". It also remains my favorite for a variety of odd reasons (not the least of which being that it has it's own Wikipedia page. My God, do the other 189 Columbia Stooge shorts have them as well? I'm scared to look..)


First of all, the damn thing is a complete miniature musical--the dialogue is sung, not spoken, entirely in rhyme. The Stooges never made another one of these--the vogue for the "musical novelty" format died down, I guess, as quickly as it sprang up--and thus "Woman Haters" remains a singular feat in Stoogeonomy--their only musical (though the form is really more sung-through operetta).


Secondly, the movie is, for me, a time capsule of my own youth--circa 1972. You see, as a kid I got a tape recorder for my seventh or eighth birthday and quickly began tape-recording everything in sight--my parents conversations, music off the radio (KJOI was a light "pops" station featuring Andre Kostolanitz style arrangements that for some reason I became obsessed with taping--complete with announcer bumpers) and, naturally, music off of movies on tv. I created a large collection of the opening music themes from Warner Brothers cartoons--those marvelous little Carl Stalling (or Milt Franklin) novelty arrangements. But the only movie that I remember taping in its entirety is "Woman Haters." I loved performing it--I would lip-sync all the parts--for my friends, my parents friends, anyone who would give me the time. Jesus, I must have been strange...


Another thing that long fascinated me was the fact that there were apparently a half-dozen or so shorts with the same sung-through premise, though only one other has, to my knowlege, surfaced--think it's called "Um-Pa, Um-Pa, Um-Pa" (at least that was the driving lyrical motif throughout the film. I saw it at a Vitaphone Project screening a few years ago in New York at the Film Forum.) "Woman Haters" was directed and written by a father-son team, Archie Gottler (the father--he was a songwriter who dabbled in filmmaking) and Jerome Gottler (the son). I met Jerome quite by accident a few times in Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills when he was in his eighties--about fifteen years ago. He was astounded that I knew who he was and told me this nugget of fascinating information about "Woman Haters"--the singing was all recorded live on the set, no lip-syncing. They used a piano track behind the boys voices and kept the volume of the piano down as low as possible. Then, when shooting was done, the orchestration was simply laid on top on the second track (presumbaly the sound effects were part of the orchestration) and the piano backing disappaered.


marjoriewhite Finally, the girl in the film is the delectable Marjorie White--I was awfully taken by her as a kid and as an adult I see I had excellent taste. She was pretty, sexy, a fine singer and a great commedienne. She was a true Hotsy-Totsy of the Bootleg Era, coming up on Broadway in the twenties and "going Hollywood" in the early thirties--she's turns up in a handful of early talkie/musicals, co-starring with the great and utterly forgotten Wheeler and Woolsey in "Diplomaniacs." (We'll have to get into W&W shortly. Bert Wheeler was a true comedy angel of his time.) Alas, Marjorie White died shortly after making this film in a car accident--her IMDB entry states that she was, in fact consididered the star of the film and got billing over the Stooges but her death caused the Studio to bump her down to supporting player status. Ah, Hollywood--how typically sensitive! Does this sound to you somewhat like Miramax quickly erasing the World Trade Center from it's logo after 9/11?


Tomorrow, part two...and more Stoogiana...



1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I once had a party for Marjorie White's birthday (what the hell... it's a good excuse for a party), where I served a drink called Marjorie White Russians and we watched "Woman Haters" & "Diplomaniacs". For a supposedly "lame" film, "Woman Haters" got a HUGE amount of laughs.

    I later wrote an article about White which was published in Nostalgia Digest.

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