Monday, February 18, 2013

The Three Stooges--Woman Haters

The Eye has been awfully dreary over the last few months, so I am going to lighten the mood the best way I know how--with The Three Stooges Collection.  It is a boxed DVD set of all 190 shorts the stooges did for Columbia Pictures from 1934 to 1958.  One cannot expect a brainy analysis of these shorts, but we are going to have a good time writing about them regardless.

Woman Haters is the first official Three Stooges short.  As such, it is a bit unusual.  For one, the stooges are known as Tom, Jim, and Jackie rather than Moe, Larry, and Curly respectively.  ( I am going to use their real names from now on for the sake of simplicity.) The short is the fifth in a series of musical comedy shorts, so there is a jazzy theme played throughout an all the dialogue is in an AA BB CC rhyme scheme.  These elements make Woman Haters an amusing novelty, but I am glad the Stooges got to do more of their own thing in subsequent shorts.

Moe, Larry, and Curly join up with the misogynistic Woman Haters Club, thereby swearing off women forever.  Later that night over drinks, Larry says he is going to quit the club because he has found a woman he wants to marry.  Moe and Curly convince him to call of the wedding.  Before he can let Mary down easy, her father tells him that he and his two sons beat up the guy who refused to marry his fat, unattractive daughter.  Larry is forced into nuptials with Mary in order to save himself.

When the newlyweds wind up on the same train with Moe and Curly, Larry tries to pretend he is not married.  Mary overhears him, and begins flirting with Moe and Curly to disroupt their friendship.  Finally, Mary demands to be with Larry in the train’s sleeping car.  Moe and Curly take a tumble out the window as a result.  The Stooges meet up again at the woman haters club in the far future to swear off women yet again. 

The first stooges fight begins when Moe mistakenly believes Curly has given him an eye poke.  Moe retaliates.  Larry jumps in to defend Curly and gets whacked for his trouble.   Later on, Larry and Curly get into a fight on their own without Moe, which is highly unusual.

Woman Haters features a young Walter Brennan as the train conductor.  He suffers an eye poke, as well.  It goes to show starring with the Stooges is a painful experience.  It can be worse, too.  Marjorie white, who plays Laqrry’s wife, died in a car accident a year after this short was filmed.

Woman Haters has some amusing bits, but the Stooges do not feel like themselves yet.  Larry takes center stage, something that will virtually never happen in the future.  Curly is as aggressive as Moe, something else which rarely happens in the future.  Take out the two fight scenes, and this could have starred any comedy troupe.  Woman Haters is not bad, but the Stooges are too subdued in it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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