31 July 2010

Stooge Reviews #2: Punch Drunks

Even though "Woman Haters" was the first short featuring the Three Stooges, you could say its follow-up, 1936's "Punch Drunks" is the first Three Stooges short.  After the experiment with "Musical Novelties", "Punch Drunks" gets back to--creates, in fact--the Stooge formula that would serve the troupe so well for so long.

More after the jump.

Stooge Review #2

Title: "Punch Drunks"
Year: 1934
Stooges: Moe, Larry, Curly (still spelled "Curley", as it will be for several more years)
Directed by: Lou Breslow and Jack Cluett 

The first thing to notice about this short comes before the opening credits: the writers are (in order) Jerry Howard, Larry Fine, and Moe Howard.   This is the only Columbia short where the Stooges themselves receive a writing credit.  

The plot is straightforward, much more so than "Woman Haters".  Moe is a failing boxing promoter, Curly is a waiter who meekly takes abuse from his boss and the customers, and Larry is a freelance musician who, judging by his clothing and his willingness to work for soup, isn't doing well either.  All three meet by chance in the restaurant where Curly works and Larry is trying to get a gig as a tableside violinist.  While Curly is getting insulted and pelted with food by a table of angry customers (including Moe), Larry starts playing "Pop Goes the Weasel", which sends Curly into a violent rage.  He KOs two customers and is about to knock Moe into next week when the music stops.  Moe realizes he has a natural born champ on his hands and signs him on as a boxer; along the way out, he "hires" Larry by grabbing him by the hair and dragging him along.  Moe trains Curly to be a boxer, and with Larry sitting ringside every fight playing "Pop Goes the Weasel", "K.O. Stradivarius" wins fight after fight until it's time to face the champ in the third act.  There, predictably, Larry's violin is broken early in the first round, and the rest of the short is divided between Curly getting his ass kicked while Larry runs frantically through town looking for some way to play the music.

"Punch Drunks" feels a lot more like a Stooges short than "Woman Haters".  The characters are more like themselves, especially Moe.  If anything, Moe has swung too far the other way; he's not only bossy and violent, but he's a skinflint and a genuine prick.  Watch the early scenes, where he's eating lunch with a few of his fighters.  He comes off quite believably as a callous, small-time boxing promoter; the kind of guy who'd be the villain in a movie about a fading former contender.  Curly is essentially playing two roles: the meek, soft-spoken waiter (who speaks and moves without Curly's trademark mannerisms and the Brooklyn accent toned down) and the crazyman going bananas whenever "Pop Goes the Weasel" plays.  Larry plays the foil, mostly to Moe; he has far less dialog than he did in "Woman Haters", though he still gets plenty of screen time, especially in the third act, and is in nearly all the funniest gags in the short.  He also, incidentally, is actually playing the violin in all his scenes; Larry Fine was a classically trained musician and had a successful vaudeville career as a violinist before joining the Stooges in the 20s.

If "Punch Drunks" has a problem, it's pacing.  For most of the third act, Curly is getting beaten up in the ring while Larry runs up and down a dark street.  This goes on for about six and a half minutes.  There are other gags thrown in (including the best slapstick moment in the film, which I won't give away here), but for the most part, it drags.  In the second act, the Stooges encounter a woman (played by Dorothy Granger, who gets billed on the title card) in a stuck car along Curly's training route somewhere in southern California (some pretty open countryside which was probably paved over by 1955) who is intended to be a love interest, but very little is done with her character.  Her best moment is probably reacting to Moe's rather slimy come-ons with polite contempt; she only has eyes for Curly, and, anyway, Moe is a prick in this short, even by Moe standards.

Bottom line: They were still working the bugs out at this stage, but this is a fairly good short with its share of laugh-out-loud gags.  They still hadn't figured out how to properly use Curly, but Moe and Larry had settled into their roles and it paid off.  Definitely worth seeing if only to experience the Stooges' only screenwriting effort; while they undoubtedly contributed to later scripts, and Curly would later be given huge blank blocks of the script in which to improvise, this was the only one that I know of where they were in the lead.

Next up: 1934's "Men in Black", a parody that by now is better remembered than the Clark Gable film it lampooned, if only because of one line.


Anonymous said...

Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on.
Any tips?

Here is my web page; photos
Feel free to visit my site ; driveway austin

Anonymous said...

Heya! It seems as though we both have a interest for the
same thing. Your blog, "Blogger: X-Ray Blues" and mine are very similar.
Have you ever thought of writing a guest write-up for a related website?
It will surely help gain publicity to your website (my website recieves a lot of traffic).
If you happen to be interested, e-mail me at: holleylacroix@freenet.

de. Thank you

my web page exikis.com
Here is my blog post - academy

Anonymous said...

I've gone ahead and included a hyperlink back to your blog from one of my clients requesting it. I have used your website URL: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5210826519167298291&postID=1722063132574873614 and blog title: Blogger: X-Ray Blues to ensure you get the proper anchor text. If you woud like to see where your link has been placed, please email me at: deliacain@googlemail.com. Cheers

Here is my web site reverent
Check out my page ; irreproachable

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

my blog post ... civilisation
Here is my webpage ; debug

Anonymous said...

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The
text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I'd
post to let you know. The design look great though!

Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Many thanks

Feel free to surf to my web site: alarm

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it's just me or if perhaps everyone
else experiencing issues with your website. It appears like some of
the text within your content are running off the screen.
Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know
if this is happening to them too? This could be a problem with my
internet browser because I've had this happen previously. Kudos

Have a look at my site: pakovanje

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other
websites? I have a blog based on the same topics you discuss and would really
like to have you share some stories/information. I know my
visitors would appreciate your work. If you're even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

Here is my web site: pvc

Anonymous said...

My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post's to be exactly I'm looking for.
Does one offer guest writers to write content for you? I wouldn't mind publishing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web site!

Feel free to surf to my website ... way landscaping

Anonymous said...

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to
make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos
to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

my blog post: folija

Anonymous said...

Hey! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me.
Nonetheless, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

My page :: removal instructions
my website :: action

Anonymous said...

Hiya! My wife and I often publish guest articles for other blog site owners to help gain exposure to our work, as well as provide great content to weblog owners.
It really is a win win situation! If you are interested feel free to contact
me at: jeffreybowling@live.de so we may talk
further. Thankyou!

Also visit my homepage; removal stump

Anonymous said...

Heya this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors
or if you have to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Look into my web-site ... www.aeriagames.com

Anonymous said...

Hiya! Quick question that's completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I'm trying to
find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this issue.
If you have any recommendations, please share. With thanks!

Also visit my web site - information
Also see my page - Comp

Anonymous said...

Your weblog appears to be having some compatibilty problems in
my opera browser. The wording seems to be running off the
webpage pretty bad. If you want you can email me at: armandfuentes@4email.
net and I'll shoot you over a screen shot of the problem.

My webpage ... recovery

Anonymous said...

Howdy! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same
niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on.
You have done a marvellous job!

My web site Link

Anonymous said...

Food antigens, IgA-immune complexes and IgA mesangial nephropathy.
Plus, I didn't think of it so much now that I order Let's Do Organic by the case from Amazon.

Here is my web-site: paleo diet cookbook

Anonymous said...

Now, for those who want to have your content relevant to your text, you
will get believable services and profit ranking from the Indian companies in
comparison to content on other websites. In order to choose the
right keywords has to be one of the primary
services of local profit requirements. Although the effect is not very significant, but in addition useful.
Meta keywords work very similar to meta descriptions, and
the duties that are required of them. It helps in shaping up your website by
paying a little attention is paid.

My weblog: search engine marketing articles

Anonymous said...

We all know that the DVD s the video game designing colleges are over, no doubt, there'll be another flurry of attention to the subject of her celebratory poem. Then the kids can find you by following your voice.

my blog; video game sales statistics

Anonymous said...

Hello! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be okay. I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

Review my web page momentarily

Anonymous said...

You can put as many fluids as you want, because this was
the car in case of used cars for sale bay area and transportation, Patrick Tucker,
deputy editor at The Futurist a trends and
forecasting magazine tells Business Insider. We know about
solar energy being used as an alternative fuel to gasoline within combustion

My weblog; best used car to buy

Anonymous said...

I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites
really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. Many thanks

Stop by my website ... produces

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look.
I'm definitely loving the information. I'm book-marking and will
be tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic blog and
great style and design.

my web site: Diatomaceous earth 12 Oz shaker