30 July 2010

Stooge Reviews #1: Woman Haters

So today we're debuting a new feature here on X-Ray Blues--reviews of the 190 Columbia Three Stooges shorts, in order, starting in 1934.  This has absolutely fuck-all to do with science fiction, writing, or publishing, but it's my blog, so poop on you if you don't like it.  Review begins below the jump.

Stooge Review #1

Title: Woman Haters
Year: 1934
Stooges: Moe, Larry, Curly (spelled "Curley" on the title card)
Directed by: Archie Gottler

"Woman Haters" was the first Columbia short subject featuring the Three Stooges, and the Stooges' first film without Ted Healy.  It's the first of 190 Stooges shorts, and the film that kicked off one of Hollywood's longest-running comic acts (the Stooges won't be officially disbanded until Moe Howard's death from lung cancer in 1975).

And it's pretty weird.

For starters, the whole thing is in verse.  The short was billed as a "Musical Novelty", and every line rhymes.  For the most part, it isn't actually a musical, but the lines are delivered in a kind of sing-song, spoken-word voice set to a swinging background tune.  

Second, the plot: the Stooges join the Woman-Haters Club (whose chairman, incidentally, is played by Bud Jamison, who would go on to be a longtime Stooges supporting player; his specialty was accents, especially Irish ones), a social club of fancy gentlemen who have sworn off courting and marriage.  Unfortunately, Larry meets a girl, played by Marjorie White, and gets engaged to be married.  He promises to break it off, but chickens out and gets married anyhow.  Worse, the Stooges are traveling salesmen, and Moe and Curly are booked on Larry's honeymoon train.

If you've ever seen the pilot of a television show, that's the feel this short has.  The Stooges' characters are undeveloped even compared to their later 1936 shorts.  The seeds are there: Moe is the bossy, abusive leader, Curly is a surreal man-child, and Larry is the straight man, but they're muted compared to the Stooges most people recognize.  Larry and Curly even actually slap Moe back.  Curly's physical comedy is notably restrained, as well.  Many of Curly's barks, woos, and random flailings were improvised in later shorts, often because Curly had forgotten his lines; in "Woman Haters", because of its spoken-verse structure, there's no room for improvisation.  Also, how many Stooge shorts had a Larry-centered plot?  

"Woman Haters" is a farce that depends more on situations than slapstick for laughs.  The slapstick bits, while funny, seem somewhat out-of-place.  The first reel exists mostly to set up the second, where Larry is trying to hide his marriage from his friends and his membership in the club from his wife, all on the same train (in fact, they appear to be berthed in the same train car).  Marjorie White plays a bigger role than most Stooge co-stars would in later films; at times, frankly, she steals the scene, especially as she winds up orchestrating the entire farce by the middle of the second reel.  She has a deft comic touch and would have been fun as a recurring supporting actress.  Sadly, this was to be her last role in any film; she was killed in a car wreck in 1935.  

 Ultimately, while "Woman Haters" is funny on its own merits and definitely a Stooges short (rather than a film where Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard happen to be playing roles--though strangely, Larry is called "Jim" and Curly is called "Jackie" in the film), it's more interesting as a historical oddity than as a film.  Columbia, so far as I know, never went back to this format.  There were some music-centered Stooges shorts later, but never one where the entire script was in verse.  The Stooges' characters would develop remarkably fast; in the very next short, in fact, we'll see Moe, Larry, and Curly acting a lot more like the Stooges we know best.


Anonymous said...

I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it
for you? Plz respond as I'm looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. appreciate it

my blog post: series

Anonymous said...

Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of
hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any solutions
to stop hackers?

Have a look at my blog: series

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues? A few of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any suggestions to help fix this issue?

Here is my homepage removal los

Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm sorry to trouble you but I ran across your weblog and noticed you're using the exact same template as me.

The only issue is on my site, I'm unable to get the page layout looking like yours. Would you mind contacting me at: floridacarmack@gmail.com so I can get this figured out. By the way I have bookmarked your site: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5210826519167298291&postID=4451712288458731101 and will be visiting often. Thanks!

Feel free to surf to my site trees stump

Anonymous said...

Would you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as
I provide credit and sources back to your weblog:
I'll aslo ensure to give you the proper anchor text hyperlink using your blog title: Blogger: X-Ray Blues. Please make sure to let me know if this is ok with you. Thank you

My blog post: dekorativno

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out.
Please let me know where you got your theme.
With thanks

My blog; http://theuaru.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your article
seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you know.
The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon.

Feel free to surf to my website ... weblog

Anonymous said...

Searching reddit.com I noticed your website book-marked as: Blogger: X-Ray Blues.
Now I am assuming you book-marked it yourself and wanted to ask if social book-marking gets you a good deal of visitors?
I've been contemplating doing some social bookmarking for a few of my websites but wasn't sure if it would
generate any positive results. Thanks.

Also visit my homepage tree removal

Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to
my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear."
She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is
completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

Also visit my web blog; Removal Chemical

Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found
a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said
"You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her
ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off
topic but I had to tell someone!

My web-site; odp.nit.net.cn

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
I'm planning to start my own blog soon but I'm a
little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with
a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option?
There are so many options out there that I'm totally confused .. Any ideas? Thank you!

Here is my weblog; srbija

Anonymous said...

Good day! I could have sworn I've been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it's new to me.
Nonetheless, I'm definitely delighted I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back often!

Also visit my website; advokati