Saturday, February 28, 2009

Loco Boy makes Good (1942)

This Three Stooges short is a pleasant entry and a personal favorite. There are two interesting side stories that make the film unique. First a bit about the story.

The boys' adventure start out when Stooge regular, Bud Jamison, throws them out of a hotel. A plan to slip on a bar of soap and collect damage money goes nowhere, but the boys run into a nice old lady trying to run a dilapidated hotel, Ye Olde Pilgrim Hotel. A nasty collection agent, Scroggins, played by a great sourpuss, Walter Soderling, gets his comeuppance by the boys.

The next few scenes give our heroes the usual "repair" gags: hammering, nailing and laying linoleum. The highlight of the short is when the hotel reopens as the Chisel Inn Hotel. The boys, now Nill, Null and Void, the performing waiters, are the star attractions in the Kokonuts Grove. The famous columnist Waldo Twitchell (John Tyrell) and his date, Dorothy Appleby (a Columbia favorite with the Stooges, Buster Keaton and other comics) attend the opening and thanks to a mix-up with a magician's coat, Curly and the boys become a hit with their antics.

Curly also gets to show off his dancing skill. In his early days, he frequented many New York ballrooms and does some great eccentric stepping with the cute Dorothy as his partner. Playing the part of customers and dancers are a great collection of Columbia stock actors. I spotted Bob Burns, Eddie Laughton (a great bit as a drunken diner), Victor Travers, ElinorVandivere (part of Twitchell's party), Al Thompson, Johnny Kascier, Lynton Brent and Heinie Conklin. All these actors were talented supporting players and comedy veterans. The Stooges' favorite dowager, Symona Boniface, has a great bit when a mouse from the magicians' coat goes down her back. Her reaction is a great series of contortions and tremors. Another Stooge stalwart, Vernon Dent, appears briefly as Balbo the Magician whose coat (full of surprises) gets mixed up with Curly's.

That brings us to the first side story. The film was co-written by Felix Adler and Clyde Bruckman, two old comedy pros. Bruckman, who wrote for Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, was at a low point in his career due to alcoholism. He had a habit of recycling gags from older movies he wrote or directed. The bit with the magician's coat came from the Harold Lloyd film, Movie Crazy (1932). Lloyd sued Adler, Bruckman and producer Jules White for$ 500,000 in damages. In 1946, he won his case. He also won a suit for a million from Universal Pictures for more Bruckman recycling. This brought Bruckman's career down further and after doing some TV work (including the Abbott and Costello show) he committed suicide in 1955. A sad ending for a man who brought so much laughter to the world.

The other side story involves the music used in the nightclub scenes. For years I enjoyed this hot swing music-we never see the band-but never knew its origins. The two selections are heard during Curly's great jitterbugging. One tune is an untitled instrumental; the other is Rockin' the Town (1938) by Ted Koehler and Johnny Green. This came from a Columbia feature, Start Cheering, which also featured the Stooges. In the film Gertrude Niesen sang it along with co-writer Johnny Green's band. Benny Goodman also performed the tune on a broadcast. The version in Loco Boy was lifted from a Blondie film from 1939, Blondie meets the Boss. These tunes were played by Skinny Ennis' band during a dance contest sequence. Columbia, always the spendthrift, simply used the Ennis music for the Stooges' nightclub scenes. The studio got more mileage out of Rockin' the Town. In a 1956 Columbia horror film, The Werewolf, we hear the song (the Ennis version) on a juke box at a local bar & grill. We have talked about Columbia's "chicanery" in the past and this is a perfect example.

Three verbal classics deserve a mention. When Moe instructs Curly to mingle with the guests, his threat is, "Mingle or I'll Mangle!" Waiter Larry is asked if he has Patty de Facquer. Larry retorts, "I'll see if the band can play it!". And during the nightclub scene, Moe gets to sing a bit of She was Bred in Old Kentucky-But She's just a Crumb Up Here.

Loco Boy Makes Good is available on DVD as part of Sony's Three Stooges collection(Vol.3). Looks like the entire series is on it's way.

Till our next adventure-Keep Stooging!.


Tor Hershman said...

Yes, the Stooges are great masters of Zen.

Malbuff said...

Zen?!? "I'll see your Zen and raise you Zventy!"