From the sublime (the Nicholas Brothers) to the not only ridiculous but downright grotesque--ladies and gentleman, I give you the Three Stooges. How mothers across America (mine included) allowed little kids to watch this crap unsupervised I'll never know. And why aren't there more forty-something year olds wandering around missing an eye, or with half their noses cut off? So obsessed was I with the Stooges that at age nine I began writing a book about them--carefully taking photos of their movies off our black and white Zenith TV, on which I watched--every afternoon at five PM--a full hour of their debased, ultra-violent 'humor', offered up by the strange independent station from Corona, Channel 52. (The book was never completed. Could it be that this weblog is an attempt to pick up from where I left off, thirty some years ago?)
In spite of my better judgement, however, I still love the Three Stooges--even though, in recent years, repeated attempts to watch the shorts when they turned up on AMC or Spike yielded reactions from the merely bored to the actively disgusted (ever see Moe climbing the telephone pole with a spike shoe that gets sent into Curley's ear among other orifices? REALLY HORRIBLE.) Indeed, except for a handful of mid-thirties shorts which, in my estimation, still stood up (most of them directed by either Del Lord or the great Charley Chase) I was rarely able to make it through a complete two-reeler. (And forget the Shemp's--I can't even make it through the credits, so boring is the post-war, blanded-out arrangement of the "Three Blind Mice" theme music). Below, however, is one of my favorite Stooges routines--"swinging the alphabet"--from a 1937 short called "Violent Is The Word For Curley" (the title was a play on a popular movie of the day called "Valient Is The Word For Carrie"). I've duly taught my three year old son this song and he loves it. Later in this film is a very funny football game--but nobody has seen fit to post the whole thing on youtube yet.
Why is it in color? I wasn't aware of a Stooge colorization movement but apparently there's been just such a thing. I prefer the black and white but I'll take "B-A-BAY, B-E-BEE, B-I-BICKY-BI" any way I can get it.
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 4:17 PM