Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Three Stooges--Punch Drunks

 Punch Drunks is the second Stooge short.   The dynamic still is not quite set as the Stooges do not star out as a trio, but come together through circumstance.  However, once the three join together, typical Stooge antics ensue.  Punch Drunks establishes two famous recurring themes.  One, larry is a skilled violinist.  Two, Curley goes crazy upon hearing “Pop Goes the Weasel.” 

The short begins with Moe as a struggling boxing manager having lunch with three of his less than stellar pugilist clients.   Curly is their meek, bumbling waiter.  He remains weak only until musician Larry begins plating “Pop Goes the Weasel” on his violin.  Curly knocks out the three boxers and the restaurant owner in an uncontrollable fit.  Recognizing a sure thing, Moe becomes Curly’s manager and recruits Larry to play “Pop Goes the Weasel” at every bout.

Curly, fighting under the name KO Stradivarius, becomes the number one contender for the world championship.  Unfortunately, when he meets the current champ, Killer Kilduff, in the ring, Larry breaks his violin.  Larry goes on a mad dash through the city to fin a radio and then a truck playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” before Curly is beaten to a pulp.

There is a short detour during a less than up to rocky Balboa standars training sequence in which the stooges meet up with Dorothy Granger.  They help her get her car unstuck from a ditch.  Curly runs off with her rather than stick around for more training.  The sequence is either an excuse to show Curly going crazy yet again or to watch granger bat her eyelashes.  Either way, good job.

Best exchange:

DOROTHY: I’m in a terrible dilemma!
MOE: I don’t care for these foreign cars, myself.

Punch Drunks is the only Stooge short in which they received writing credit.  It is also the only Stooge short to be preserved by the American film Institute for its artistic and cultural merit.  Yes, really.   It is, after all, one of the most famous Stooge shorts.

Punch Drunks is one of my favorites.  It utilizes the unique talents of each one of the Stooges for full comedic effect.   The production is one of the most ambitious.  For a low budget short, everything is maximized to full effect.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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