Monday, February 25, 2013

The Three Stooges--Uncivil Warriors

Uncivil Warriors is the first of many shorts in which the Stooges play soldiers.   Quite a few are set during the Civil War.   The Stooges will wind up fighting for both sides when it is all said and done.  Unfortunately, they are spies for the Union in this one instead of representing the Glorious South.  

The Stooges are enlisted Union soldiers assigned to pose as captured Confederate officers in order to gather intelligence about Confederate forces.  Designated Capt. Dodge (Moe), Lt. Duck (Larry), an Maj. Hyde (Curly),  they go behind enermy lines and infiltrate the mansion of Col. Butts.  

The Stooges manage to hide their identities cleverly for once.  Curly snatches a message away from Butts informing him of spies in the ranks and holds it over a candle while “reading” it aloud to conceal its true contents.   Larry is forced to pose as Dodge’s uncle add Curly in drag as Dodge’s wife   The gags are more like something Bugs Bunny would pull off than the usually brainless Stooges. 

The most famous sequence from Uncivil Warriors is the scene in whih Curly accidentally bakes a torn potholder into a cake.  The Stooges force themselves to eat it as best they can, but the effort ends in a mass coughing up of feathers.  The joke will later be reused in a Shemp short.   Get used to reading that statement. 

Uncivil Warriors may be famous for the potholder cake scene, but it is infamous for a racial joke.  Moe has to run off to find a baby in order to maintain his cover.  Unfortunately, all he can find is a black infant.  With the stooges now exposed as spies, Moe hands the baby to butts and quips ‘He gets really sunburned” before the Stooges dash off.  The sunburn joke is usually edited out of the televised version, but it is left in the DVD version here.  It is one of the very few race related jokes in the Stooge shorts.

Uncivil Warriors stands out as of the best Stooge shorts.  The Stooges show a rare mix of both cleverness in dealing with the antagonists and their usual brand of dumb slapstick.  The shorts in which the Stooges are battling spies or are spies themselves always seem to be a cut above the rest.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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