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Breakdown of a Gag, Episode 7: Making Old Gags New (Again)


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#1 rajmct01

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 12:36 AM

I was born in 1952. I remember seeing The Little Rascals and Our Gang. Buster Keaton also had a TV show. I started seeing I Love Lucy as reruns. I saw the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour when first shown. The Three Stooges were on. And Laurel and Hardy films were shown. The cartoons of the day also showed slapstick in their episodes. Captain Kangaroo showed funny bits with Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, and Mr. Greenjeans. And I saw at the movies Have Rocket Will Travel, Snow White and the Three Stooges, and The Three Stooges Meet Hercules. The comic routines were new to me. But I liked the characters and still enjoy these films and shows.

#2 pumatamer

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 02:34 PM

My mother raised me on so any comedy greats including the Three Stooges, Benny Hill, etc. I remember this scene in the rocket and this trio were so brilliant. Think about the timing, physically and verbally, that had to be correctly synced between all the actors. Such craftsman!

 



#3 TexasGoose

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 03:48 PM

I was born in 1951. Grew up with TV and going to the saturday matinee. To this day I can watch the old b&w stuff, with Laurel & Hardy, Abott & Costello, Our Gang, Little Rascals, The Lucy Show, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Jacki Gleason  and The Three Stooges, and laugh. Really laugh. Whether it was what they said, how they looked, or what they did (or was done to them) you laughed. Slapstick was a necessity to their comedy.

The Long, Long Trailer was great. It was a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was great. And along with several other films this week seen at the theater. And with my family's money limitations at the Saturday matinee. You went with a dollar. Got admission, popcorn, a cold drink and a good time. And for all the great movies the comedies are the ones I watch over and over through the decades.


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#4 Knuckleheads Return

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:14 AM

I was so glad to see The Three Stooges being mentioned in the course. I also understand Vince Cellini's  concerns about being a pure Stooge fan against being... well an all others on the team Stooge fan. I am sure the mention of Emil Sitka would not please Vince nor the mention of the "Fourth Stooge". :lol:

Yes, the Stooges were thirty years after their prime when they made "Have Rocket --Will Travel" but their appearance fit into Dr. Edwards remarks about re-purposed gags reacting to advances in technology, changes in cultural tastes and consumer enjoyment. In the Three Stooges we see them bringing in space exploration as perhaps the new technology to react to and we see them being seen by and enjoyed by a new generation. As Moe Howard stated in his book:"Moe Howard and The Three Stooges": "Almost overnight, the Three Stooges became one of the hottest children's TV properties. A whole generation -- millions of kids who had never seen the Three Stooges -- were suddenly exposed to something brand new in TV fare." (157). This same draw applied to their feature films in the theater. :blink:

Perhaps Blake Edwards reuse of gags did pay homage to Hal Roach but a part of me hopes that this huge pie fight gag paid homage to those pie throwing "Knuckleheads"... The Three Stooges". :D


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#5 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 05:49 AM

Television.... the medium that may have felt like a cheapened version of the movie-going experience, slowly becomes hugely popular, and in its wake, the slapstick comedians rise above and have renewed life!  It almost makes you wonder if the 3 Stooges would have been as wildly popular and well-known today if it weren't for the technology of television and its influence on society.  This was a fantastic transition to bring those old gags and slapstick routines to people and an era that may have quickly forgotten the silent and earlier ages of slapstick... and I am forever grateful!  


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#6 MrDougLong

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 10:10 PM

One of the most interesting things about Module 4 is how the emergence of television resulted in a renewed appreciation for slapstick, via variety shows, sitcoms, and re-showing of earlier slapstick films. Like the Chicago series of Three Stooges and Little Rascals (Our Gang) Richard Edwards mentions, I knew those acts through repeated showings on TV in the 1960s and '70s. Getting to know them in our living rooms, they and their old slapstick routines became familiar and beloved. That Columbia would bring back the Three Stooges a quarter century later for Have Rocket - Will Travel is no surprise, nor was the fact that they would resurrect violent slapstick shticks like the hammer routine - that's how we knew and liked them (for those of us who liked them). 

 

When pie fights are revived in films, there's always a sense of nostalgia for the silent days, not only in The Great Race (1965), but also in Hollywood Cavalcade (1939), a tribute to early slapstick days I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned in the class, and multiple TV shows, including Laugh-In, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched & Three's Company.


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#7 gtunison

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 09:15 PM

When something is funny, it's funny the 100th time you see it as it was the first time. The Three Stooges are funny. I still laugh at them even though it is stupid, I feel like I was I could get away with some of the antics they get away with. We all know people that could use a hammer to the head on a regular basics.

 

A pie in the face is funny too. And what fun it would be to be in a pie fight with your friends. Don't laugh at someone that gets a pie in the face because as we see from this clip, you are next.


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#8 johnseury

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:35 PM

Like the verse from the book of Eccleastes, there is nothing new under the sun. Inventive comedians have always tried to give a fresh spin on their old material. The hammer bit from the Stooges was effective and funny, although I'm inclined to agree with Vince Cellini about Curly Joe. I hope to post something more in depth about the Stooges later this weekend. The pie fight scene was funny too, an obvious throwback to the past. At least there was an obvious backdrop for pie. And viewing that scene did make want some brandy.
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#9 CynthiaV

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:34 PM

I still love the Stooges. It amazes me that they are still as popular today. This is mostly because besides being enduringly funny they also made so many shorts for Columbia which were sold off to television stations wanting to cash in on the continued marketability of slapstick. How many classic Hollywood dramatic actors are as popular today with new fans? Not many but mention The Stooges or Buster Keaton, Lucille Ball or Laurel and Hardy and most people will smile and admit they're fans. The Stooge's violence never bothered me because everything is so exaggerated, especially the sound effects that even as a kid I knew not to take a hammer to my brother's skull.

Honestly, "The Great Race" is one of my least favorite comedy films. It just doesn't make me laugh, not even the over the top pie fight, and I love watching pie fights (no I've never been hit in the face with one). I can watch the Stooges in, "The Sweet Pie and Pie" and Laurel and Hardy's classic pie fight in, "The Battle of the Century" over and over but for some reason Blake's just leaves me, "meh." I've tried watching the movie a few times with friends who love it but as they roll on the floor with laughter I get up to make popcorn. It's just too overdone to me. The gags feel forced and Wood's comedic ability falls flat. So, just as some of us love the Stooges and others don't I guess comedy as everything else is a deeply personal thing.
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#10 MrDave

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 07:46 PM

Old gags new again, I think it was so great using old gags and bringing them back to life in new incarnations. Whether they were recreated by newer talent or by the originals, i.e. The Three Stooges, Ed Wynn, etc.  These are funny gags and what may be old to our grandparents are new fresh gags to us. Keaton was prime example of re-using his gags in Red Skelton vehicles or Marx Bros. films. It shows how tried and true the material is and how great the artists were who performed them.


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#11 goingtopluto

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 05:30 PM

I don't think anyone could do physical slapstick on the same level as the Stooges.  When The Three Stooges aired in 2000, I first learned about their original--and violently literal--stage act.  Later, when the trio enter movies, they discover how their gags can include sound effects.  Michael Chiklis, who portrayed a very believable Curly, turned to brother Moe (very well played by Paul Ben-Victor) and said something along the lines of "now my ears won't ring for hours when you hit me."  I believe Curly died first, and of a stroke.
 
I know The Great Race has gone down in history as one of the biggest in history, but there begs a question: How many pie-fights exist?  Has anyone ever given a number? 
 
Has anyone in class ever been hit in the face with a pie?
 
(raises hand)


I also saw the movie “The Three Stooges” in 2000 and I have to say it gave me a greater appreciation of their films. I had no idea how seriously they took their funny little movies and how hard they worked to make them appealing to their audience.

I agree in the “Breakdown of a Gag” that their method of retooling the hammer gag was simply to put it in a rocket ship. However, I think the trio gave the scene much more thought than that. By the time “Have Rocket Will Travel” came out Columbia had already released their shorts to TV. As stated by many people on this board, their acts were very familiar. The trio, I believe, knew that gags like the hammer act were what people wanted and expected. From my own personal experience, I used to watch The Three Stooges in California with my roommate, her brother, and several neighbors. The guys knew the acts so well they could repeat the verbal portions and sound effects of the physical slapstick. It was always fun to watch because these grown men in their 20’s and 30’s. Which brings me back to my point, even though the gags were old people always enjoyed seeing them because no one did them better than The Three Stooges
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#12 MrZerep

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 04:55 PM

Many of us in this course have seen the Three Stooges thanks to television, whether it was on the weekends or after school.  The trio used many of their gags over and over in different situations, so it was a natural to bring those gags into their 1st feature film.  The sound effects add to the pain.  Many do not like the antics because they are violent and look painful, but we got to know that if we attempted those gags we'd get hurt and could not go "into the next scene" unscathed.

 

The amazing pie fight from The Great Race looks like a Three Stooges idea of heaven.  And to have it in color adds to the spectacularly epic caloric violence!  Everyone gets hit, except our hero, and even Miss DuBois gets it (so reminiscent of the aristocratic women in Stooges pie fights).  No one is immune but deep down inside it is probably a cathartic release for the bakers and the minions of the aristocracy that want a little payback.


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#13 ln040150

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 04:24 PM

The Three Stooges were hysterical.  Sometimes a little too violent for me with the hammer and slapping  a lot of the time.  I understand it's slapstick according to the five conditions.  They do exaggerate their actions, especially in the opening sequence when they jump out of bed and are getting their clothes on; they are physical as well as violent, and certainly Make believe in going up in a rocket in 1959.  My younger brother, when we were kids, LOVED the three stooges and used to wave his hand in front of my face with the "Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck".  It was annoying, so that's my problem with the Three Stooges.
 
The Great Race is great!  I loved it when I saw it the first time in the movie theater.  Jack Lemmon's two different roles only show him to be versatile as well as talented.  As Dr. Gehring said, Lemmon was outstanding in comedy, and won an Best Actor Oscar in a dramatic role for Save the Tiger.  Of course, he also won best supporting for Mr. Roberts.  The tooth sparkle on Tony Curtis, who was THE male icon back then is so cool.  I'm sure Tony didn't go up in the basket upside down and had a stunt double, but whoever it was was amazing. A throwback to Houdini?
 
Curtis and Lemmon were a good team in Some Like it Hot of 1959, so it makes sense that Blake Edwards would want to pair them in this film.

Curtis and Lemmon were absolutely perfect in an absolutely perfect film directed by a genius.
I was also a devoted fan of the Stooges, mimicking all they did (as best I could) with my friends...when I was in elementary school. But the repetition does grow old, even if repetition is one of the conditions of slapstick.
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#14 ScottZepher

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 03:57 PM

I don't think anyone could do physical slapstick on the same level as the Stooges.  When The Three Stooges aired in 2000, I first learned about their original--and violently literal--stage act.  Later, when the trio enter movies, they discover how their gags can include sound effects.  Michael Chiklis, who portrayed a very believable Curly, turned to brother Moe (very well played by Paul Ben-Victor) and said something along the lines of "now my ears won't ring for hours when you hit me."  I believe Curly died first, and of a stroke.

 

I know The Great Race has gone down in history as one of the biggest in history, but there begs a question: How many pie-fights exist?  Has anyone ever given a number? 

 

Has anyone in class ever been hit in the face with a pie?

 

(raises hand)
 


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#15 jkbrenna

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 03:31 PM

The Three Stooges were hysterical.  Sometimes a little too violent for me with the hammer and slapping  a lot of the time.  I understand it's slapstick according to the five conditions.  They do exaggerate their actions, especially in the opening sequence when they jump out of bed and are getting their clothes on; they are physical as well as violent, and certainly Make believe in going up in a rocket in 1959.  My younger brother, when we were kids, LOVED the three stooges and used to wave his hand in front of my face with the "Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck".  It was annoying, so that's my problem with the Three Stooges.

 

The Great Race is great!  I loved it when I saw it the first time in the movie theater.  Jack Lemmon's two different roles only show him to be versatile as well as talented.  As Dr. Gehring said, Lemmon was outstanding in comedy, and won an Best Actor Oscar in a dramatic role for Save the Tiger.  Of course, he also won best supporting for Mr. Roberts.  The tooth sparkle on Tony Curtis, who was THE male icon back then is so cool.  I'm sure Tony didn't go up in the basket upside down and had a stunt double, but whoever it was was amazing. A throwback to Houdini?

 

Curtis and Lemmon were a good team in Some Like it Hot of 1959, so it makes sense that Blake Edwards would want to pair them in this film.


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#16 felipe1912t

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 02:57 PM

The Three Stooges were a great comical influence to me because Brazilian television broadcasted them until the 1990s frequently. Laurel & Hardy were another major influence with its movies running frequently on Sunday afternoon TV, and it is really interesting to see how their kind of comedy was really close to whats was being done in 1930s. The clip explored on this episode makes it really clear.

 

The second clip is a little bit different because we see the movie director exploring what he can in terms of technical possibilities for slapstick. A lot of color, major editing job, big scenarios and so on. In the movies, slapstick was becoming bigger than ever. And that was happening to all kinds of Hollywood movies in generall, it is good to point it out.


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#17 Marianne

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:52 PM

I believe the time of the film was 1908. So that is around the time women were fighting for the right to vote, which they got in 1920. In the Great Race Maggie and Mrs. Goodbody were suffragettes, which is a movement of the silent era which also paralleled the sixties women's rights movement. So the film reflects the ideas when it was made while also echoing back to the times of the silent era.

 

It does not really predate the era of silent film, rather it is set at the beginning of that era. We saw the first silent film in our studies was 1896 and Keystone Studio was founded in 1912, and Chaplin started with them in 1914, but D.W. Griffith started making films in 1908.

 

To me the film seems a bit later, despite the time stated, because of the style of the cars. I cant imagine cars in 1908 as sophisticated as the Leslie Special. I could be wrong. But it would seem to be closer to mid to late teens in that sense. I wonder if they were trying to  put it BEFORE World War I, because you couldn't have a race across France during that time period, so you couldn't set it from 1914-1918 for that reason. :)

 

Lest we (including me) forget, it's a work of fiction. The director and the writers of The Great Race could have done almost anything they wanted in the name of fun and slapstick!


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#18 Pjdamon

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:12 PM

I remember watching the Three Stooges on television growing up and enjoyed the gags. Their timing and interaction worked well even when they brought in Shemp. It was good to see many of the gags in the movies. The hard thing I've always had getting past was the second Curly Joe. To me his timing and interaction with the others was a bit off. But the gags still worked.

Blake Edwards does go over the top with the pie fight. At the time I first saw the film it seemed just right. But now seeing it again less could have been more. But the addition of color did add to the scene. And as noted Tony Curtis was dressed in white. The 50s and 60s had the good guys in white. To me the film Those Magnicient Men and Their Flying Macines was much funnier and the slapstick gags done well.

For me bring back the comedies of the 20s and 30s plus films like Blake Edwards made me want to learn more. I also gained a deeper appreciation for the trailblazers.
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#19 Chris_Coombs

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:04 PM

I think the time period of The Great Race is during Teddy Roosevelt's presidential administration (1901 to 1909) because, if I recall correctly, Maggie DuBois tells Baron von Stuppe of Pottsdorf that he will have to answer to President Teddy Roosevelt after the baron imprisons her.

 

Someone mentioned that the period presented in The Great Race predates the classic era of silent film, and if my memory is accurate, that would be true.

 

I believe the time of the film was 1908. So that is around the time women were fighting for the right to vote, which they got in 1920. In the Great Race Maggie and Mrs. Goodbody were suffragettes, which is a movement of the silent era which also paralleled the sixties women's rights movement. So the film reflects the ideas when it was made while also echoing back to the times of the silent era.

 

It does not really predate the era of silent film, rather it is set at the beginning of that era. We saw the first silent film in our studies was 1896 and Keystone Studio was founded in 1912, and Chaplin started with them in 1914, but D.W. Griffith started making films in 1908.

 

To me the film seems a bit later, despite the time stated, because of the style of the cars. I cant imagine cars in 1908 as sophisticated as the Leslie Special. I could be wrong. But it would seem to be closer to mid to late teens in that sense. I wonder if they were trying to  put it BEFORE World War I, because you couldn't have a race across France during that time period, so you couldn't set it from 1914-1918 for that reason. :)


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#20 jay1458

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 12:56 PM

I liked the epic pie fight in "The great Race"  it really was very colorful. The hammer gag in" Have Rocket will Travel" also hilarious.






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