Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Grab Bag - CLASSIC SHORTS FROM THE DREAM FACTORY VOl. 3 and OH SAILOR BEHAVE ""

Monday, October 27, 2014


Beginnings are often quite interesting. In the case of this collection, the beginnings I'm speaking of are that of the Three Stooges. These shorts feature the Stooges before they were the stooges. Moe, Larry and Curly are all here and doing some of the schtick that would make them some of the most iconic comic actors of the twentieth century. It's interesting though because you can see the personas are relatively well formed (especially Moe's) but there are some subtle differences. For instance, Curly isn't quite as dumb as his characters would often be in the Stooges films. Don't get me wrong, he still plays a dimwit, but there are indications in the way he speaks that he is a little more intelligent. It's always surreal to see an actor play a slightly removed version of a comic persona that they've come to be known for.
The Shorts included in this collection are as follows:
PLANE NUTS (1933) (20 mins) is a stage bound bit of nonsense with Ted Healy continually trying to belt out a lame song whilst continually being interrupted by Larry, Moe and Curly (and occasionally by some very elaborate Busby Berkeley style (he was an uncredited choreographer) musical numbers).

ROAST BEEF AND MOVIES (1934) (16 mins) In this Two-Color Technicolor short, three buffoons pitch their new film to some studio heads. Contains another Berkeley-esque dance sequences.

THE BIG IDEA (1934) (19 mins) Ted Healy runs "The Big Idea Scenario Company" which provides "Ideas While You Wait". Short consists of Healy, sitting in an office at a typewriter trying to write whilst all kinds of random annoying and silly characters wander in and out. Slightly reminiscent of the "Stateroom Scene" in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA during certain moments. Also reminded me of the John Candy movie DELIRIOUS (man types and we see story play out). This too has a Berkeley-esque dance number.

BEER AND PRETZELS (1933) (20 mins) Ted Healy and the Stooges get the tossed out (literally) of their jobs working as actors for a small theatre and get jobs as waiters at an upscale club. The boys attempt to take perform their act amidst their  waitstaff duties to humorous results. Some fun Stooge/customer interactions in this one.

"We don't want the boiled beef! We want the pate de fois gras!"

NERTSERY RHYMES (1933) (20 Mins)

2-strip Technicolor short featuring the Stooges as boys in pjs all sharing a single bed. Their pop (Ted Healy) comes in late to tell them bedtime stories (of Paul Revere, Indian Chiefs and other nonsense). Lots of Healy smacking the Stooges in the face. There's also a scantily clad lady in her skivvies that sings a song. There's also another lavishly produced musical number (a couple of them in fact)!

HELLO POP (1933)(17 mins)

In this, one of the more sought after shorts in this set (it was thought lost until 2013), Ted Healy plays a stage director who is attempting to put on the opening night of his new musical review. Healy must contend with all manner of chaos and stupidity including his not-so-bright three sons (played by you-know-who). The Stooges are in annoying youngsters mode and they are great at it. They are costumed in full-on fancy lad attire (with ruffles) to boot which only makes this short funnier. This is definitely one of the better films included here.
Also 2-strip Technicolor.

You can purchase this set via Warner Archive here:

OH SAILOR BEHAVE (1930; Archie Mayo)
Of all the comedy teams of the 1930s (and thereabouts), Olsen & Johnson were maybe the most certifiably insane. Rarely have a seen performers where I felt while watching them that they could just as likely walk up to me in an asylum as do a song and dance number on the silver screen. There's just something about the way they interact with each other. Feels like they are operating on their own plane of reality. I mean this in a good way. They are still very funny, but my brain occasionally puzzles at what is going on in their heads. Early on in OH SAILOR BEHAVE, there's a scene wherein Ole is listening to Chic tell a story about a how a man died. Every time he asks Chic another question about the scenario, Chic says something that randomly applies to the chap dying in a different way than he was just explaining. It's perhaps hard to express what this scene is like, but it's quite humorous. There's something about the gag of it though, this guy who is telling nine different stories at once and can't keep any of they straight - it just feels like an interaction with a schizophrenic or something. This is perfect though as it really feels like its coming from a place of pure lunacy which is a succinct way of encapsulating the Olsen & Johnson comedy paradigm. I get a little bummed out sometimes when I think about O&J. They seemed to have nearly slipped out of the conversation when it comes to comedy teams of this era. Everyone knows the Marx Brothers, and Laurel & Hardy and it seems that Wheeler and Woolsey are getting a bit of a resurgence in popularity, but O&J don't get as much attention in general. I think it certainly has to do with the availability of their films. Two of their best movies - HELLZAPOPPIN' and it's unhinged sequel CRAZY HOUSE are pretty tricky to see (outside of sketchy youtube copies). They first came to my attention years ago when Quentin Tarantino was given a week to program the then fledgling TRIO Network with a bunch of movies he loved. QT picked some really interesting stuff (CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND, BUS RILEY's BACK IN TOWN, THE CAT BURGLAR) and one of his choices was CRAZY HOUSE. He did a really neat intro and outro to each film and I wish I could find them online, but they seem to be not available. One thing I remember for sure is him saying something like, "If you don't know who Olsen & Johnson're too f*?kin' young!". He really appeared to have a great deal of affection for them and clearly wanted to spread the love. Once you see CRAZY HOUSE and HELLZAPOPPIN' you will either be totally on board with them or you'll think they are nutjob idiots. Seeing OH SAILOR BEHAVE after having seen some of their other later films was a treat as it is really wonderful to see them doing their thing and kind of developing towards their later delirium. This movie is, not surprisingly, at its best when they are on screen and far less interesting when they are not.

You can purchase this DVD via Warner Archive here:

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