Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Three Stooges--Pop Goes the Easel

 Pop Goes the Easel helps establish a common theme among Stooge shorts.  The trio start out as unemployed or underemployed, get into trouble somehow, and wind up among the upper class, often because of mistaken identity, where they eventually show up the elites.  The theme resonated well during the Great Depression when their earliest shorts were filmed.

The Stooges begin as vagrants.  When they have no success at finding employment, Moe suggests they take brooms from a storefront and start sweeping.  Hopefully, they will be offered a job for their hard work.  They get chased into an art school by a relentless cop for their trouble, but they hide away for a while posing as art students.

The three manage to ruin various legitimate art projects while evading the cop.  The stooges appear in drag for the first time as a disguise.  The short ens with a massive modeling clay fight involving all parties in the art school, from the Stooges to the students to browsing patrons.  The fight is reminiscent of famous stooge pie fights to come.  The shorts ends as the third in a row in which the stooges are knocked unconscious.  Not much on originality, no?

In the initial scene in which the stooges are running from the cop, all four engage in the classic gag of stepping through wet cement in front of an exasperated worker.  They also run by two little girls playing hopscotch in which they play as they pass by them.  The two little girls are Moe’s daughter, Joan, an Larry’s daughter, Phyllis. 

Pop Goes the Easel is famous for its climactic clay fight, but little else.  But that is still enough to make it one of the better shorts out there.  It introduces gags like Moe holding out his hand an asking Larry or Curly to hit it, causing his hand to spin around and bonk them on the head.  That gag never gets old. 

Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments: