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It's known that some Three Stooges shorts were filmed in a single day, and one can imagine that not much creative thought was put into finding new plots--or situations, rather--around which to build the usual routines. Here, for example, we have "Vagabond Loafers" (1949, number 118 in the Columbia series) in which Moe, Larry, and Shemp re-create 1940's "A Plumbing We Will Go." The funniest part features the reactions of the cook (Dudley Dickerson) who announces that dinner will be delayed "because of rain." Even the Niagara Falls bursting from the television is reused, but a sub-situation of a stolen painting is added. Here, at least, Shemp knows what a washer is.
"The Pest Man Wins" (1951, number 136) is a remake of the 1936 "Ants in the Pantry" in which the boys create work for their exterminating business by introducing moths, ants, and mice into a wealthy home. When hired to do their job unnoticed by the upper-crust guests, they do just the opposite until the usual pie-throwing routine is none too subtly brought into the film. (The notes on the tape box tell us that pies for these sequences were made from marshmallow, pumpkin, and molasses, because real custard does not stick!)
"Three Dark Horses" (1952, number 142) actually qualifies as satire--political in this case--as the Stooges are hired to vote as delegates for candidate Egger. But when they somehow find out that Egger is a crook, they switch their allegiance to his opponent and have to defend themselves against the outraged ward heelers. Unfortunately, they do not carry the political theme very far, and a good deal of the film is spent on the tired gag of a parrot inside of a turkey they plan to have for dinner. Still, there is good Shemping in all three selections. --Frank Behrens
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