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TomJH

Anyone like Laurence Olivier AND the Three Stooges?

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Olivier AND the Stooges? OF COURSE! All are refined classical performers!

 

"I coulda said 'veranda' but I didn't wanna!!"

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>Sorry, I don't mean to take this thread into a whole different direction.

 

Heh, I kind of think message boards are like parties...the conversation can flow and break off into smaller factions. Let's wander to the corner...

 

>Please tell me I'm wrong, but is there not something even rather poignant about Wood's portrayal of transvestitism in Glen or Glenda?

 

I think the key to appreciating his films is bearing in mind his deep sentimentality. Maybe I'm influenced by the Burton film, but I think Wood was a sweet & fun guy who truly loved movies.

(he shows us "loving" them and "making" them are two different things!)

I think in GOG? he was trying to unapologetically explain his point of view. I think he truly felt he was helping others understand & possibly accept this "demon" behaviour.

Way before his time, really.

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A shorter but similar discussion took place about a month ago regarding people who appreciate both Jean Gabin days and a month's look at Singing Cowboys. That broad overview is the type of thing I love about TCM.

 

A bit off topic: I've been tickled to see Antenna TV showing The Three Stooges shorts the last several months, in as uncut versions as we're likely to get on television at the moment. Nothing disappointed me more than IFC's Stooges blocs where the shorts were interrupted not once but two, sometimes three times for commercials -- and when the shorts were onscreen the intrusive IFC logo and promotional scrawls for other IFC shows never disappeared.

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*Sir Lawrence Olivier, Moe Howard and Charlie Chaplin* were using their individual cinema talents to alert the world about the menace of *Hitler*.

 

Olivier used high powered dramatic delivery, Moe Howard did it with slapstick satire, and Chaplin resorted to both approaches in *The Great Dictator (1940).* (Chaplin was in self financed la-la land, and could say anything he wanted in his movies)

 

 

In 1941, Olivier appeared in an *Alexander Korda* production titled "*That Hamilton Woman",* a project that had the full support and back scene involvement of no less that *Sir Winston Churchill.* The film was set in Napoleonic times, but was fully intended to reflect Britain's current life and death struggle against Hitler. Both dictators took control of the european continent. Both were threatening Britain with an invasion. Both dreamed of global domination. Seeing the parallels was a no brainer even to the uneducated in 1941.

 

*Churchill himself wrote the highly charged speech in the first minute of this clip, using Olivier (playing Admiral Nelson) as his screen mouthpiece: (and what a mouthpiece! The delivery and passion gives me the goosebumps!):*

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orr4_gbN_4E&feature=player_embedded

 

"*...our own land...*

*Napoleon can never be master of the world until he has smashed us up and believe me gentlemen, he means to be master of the world!!*

*You CAN NOT make peace with dictators, you have to destroy them, wipe them out!!*

*Gentlemen I implore you, speak to the Prime Minister before it is too late!!*

 

(more softly and contritely):

 

*I feared it my duty to tell you these things...*

*I'm not a statesman of course, I'm no diplomat...*

*I leave it in your hands..."*

 

Olivier, Howard and Chaplin were using their unique screen talents against a common enemy, and he was an enemy. Had you talked to Moe Howard the man and not the on screen Stooge, you likely would have heard some deeply held and forcefully expressed views about Hitler. Moe and his guys went after Hitler with their trademark buffoonery and gags, as in "*I'll Never Heil Again"* (see film link on previous page.) and in other shorts, such as "*You Nutzy Nazi".* They did it with gusto! They also helped build homefront morale, helping us to laugh, at a sad period when it was time to fight.

 

(Check out the *Alexander Korda* article, illustrated with the above film clip, embedded, along with some other of his films)

 

http://www.pestiside.hu/20100827/lift-up-your-hearts-a-tribute-to-hungarian-filmmaking-great-alexander-korda/

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If it was 1930s or 1940s derisive slang, it had a very short life span,

which some slang words have. If one walked into a bar today and called

somebody a maha, he or she would likely give you a puzzled look. If

one used certain other words, the reaction indeed might be very different.

Whether it had all these secondary meanings, I really didn't find the routine

all that funny in the first place. I found the line about just make with the gifts

funnier.

 

I don't doubt that the Stooges used topical humor, I'm just undecided about

this example. And no offense to The Three Stooges, but I've never considered

their films great works of art. I still find them funny, but not nearly so as when I

was ten years old.

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I would go with paregoric too. Won't have to share it with the Ruskies,

and maybe Hermann deserves one last chance after his Dunkirk and

Battle of Britain screw ups.

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If we're making a choice, The Stooges would win, with me. I've been (and continue to be) far more entertained by The Three Stooges, than I ever have by Laurence Olivier. Of course, that would be true for most people in that comparison.

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*If we're making a choice, The Stooges would win, with me. I've been (and continue to be) far more entertained by The Three Stooges, than I ever have by Laurence Olivier. Of course, that would be true for most people in that comparison.*


Based on the comments that have appeared on this thread, one would be inclined to think that the boys have more fans today than Sir Laurence. Perhaps a thread like this helps them to come out of the woodwork.

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Great art has to withstand the test of time, in the form of public and critical approval. Viewed that way, I see a bright future for the brothers Howard. God willing, if there is still a technological future before us that will preserve their work, I can easily see people 500 years from now enjoying their antics!

 

The subtleties of some of their verbal references and humor, (such as " taking paragoric", "Maha-Aha") were the result of a TEAM effort that involved *Columbia* scriptwriters. These were often lured away from the east coast; cynical, worldly wise and sometimes world weary New Yorkers. The most talented among them often disliked Hollywood, dismissing it as a provincial "company town"; a place whose "glamour" was purely superficial. They especially dismissed the studio bosses as uneducated, uncultured men , unfit and unqualified to judge their work. Many of them did it solely for the big bucks (often receiving the modern equivalent of $30,000 a week on a multi-year contract). Despite that, some hated every minute of their west coast experience; the money alone not being enough to keep some of them there and to prevent their reverse exodus. (I seriously wonder if Columbia studio head *Harry Cohn* understood the "*paragoric*" joke; possibly thinking it was the name of a fictional country invented by his writers) The writers loved "slipping things in" and "putting one over" the head of a studio boss they considered nothing more than a whip cracking bumpkin and rube.

 

There was an amazing bungalow park in the heart of West Hollywood at 8152 Sunset Blvd, called the *Garden of Allah,* the name being a romantic pun on the name of it's foundress and owner *Alla Nazimova* (Valentino's wife). Pity it has been torn down; somebody ought to recreate it! I read a book about the place, written years ago by a writer who resided there. He found his fellow writers and bungalow dwellers to be THE story of his book! He recounted in detail how his peers looked down on the business and the bosses who fed them so very well. (Money doesn't buy respect!). They tried to outdo one another in who could "slip through" the most outrageous references and jokes past their bosses, as well as over the heads of the "*hicks in the sticks*"! Anytime one of them succeeded, it was always cause for heavy, all night celebratory partying and drinking among them! The *Columbia* writers were especially "naughty"; (Cohn was just about the most despised boss in Hollywood!) It was the only part of their well paid job that they truly enjoyed!

 

(Here is a website that illustrates and evokes the historic look and atmosphere of *Nazimova's* world famed "garden". The goings on over there fueled Hollywood's world wide reputation as a wild and debauched town. Do take a look, it was a big piece of Hollywood and it's mystique:)

 

http://gardenofallah.com/GOA_original.asp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Pig Latin* comes up so often in stooge films, as well as in a lot of other films of the period. It was a national craze back then, especially among women, as it allowed a certain freedom of expression that otherwise wouldn't have been considered ladylike. It was an early form of "girl talk". I myself am not versed beyond a few words, like "umpchay", "ixnay" etc., but many women had a real fluent proficiency in it, able to talk at length and to be understood by their girlfriends. It was a good social skill for a man to acquire, if for no other reason than to understand what women were saying about him!

 

Here is a good weblink for those of you who would like to learn more about this form of speaking:

 

http://www.idioma-software.com/pig/pig_latin.html

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 27, 2011 2:50 PM

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Regarding Pig Latin, Thelma Todd states,

". . . I myself am not versed beyond a few words, like "umpchay", "ixnay" etc., . . ."

 

 

Don't forget . . ."*O-MAY, ARRY-LAY and . . . CURLY-Q'* ....

(I always have to chuckle @ Curly's outburst ...)

 

 

That's an Awesome and Informative Piece you've written about the 'conflicts' between East and West Coast . . . regarding Hollywood. Especially the piece regarding the 'Garden of Allah' and the residents there.

 

 

And just wondering, would this also be about the same time when the *'Algonquin Round Table'*, headed by Alexander Woollcott, and of which Harpo Marx was a member, took place ?

 

 

If anyone would know, it would be you ...

 

 

Regards,

Ugaarte

 

 

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The *Algonquin Round Table* or group was a regular gathering of some of New York's most sparkling intellectual and artistic wits. They met regularly for lunch at the *Algonquin Hotel*, in New York, hence the name. This group was legendary in it's day, and it's fame continues into the present. Some of it's members, such as *Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx and Robert Benchley*, became involved with the film industry. These were just the type of people who loved putting one over the studio bosses and "unwashed" members of the public.

 

Hollywood regularly recruited successful playrights from the *Broadway* stage. They were all professional smart alecks, who wore the restraints of the film business with varying degrees of discomfort, despite the unworldly salaries. For them, getting a "paragoric" or "Maha-aha" joke past *Harry* *Cohn* was cause for an all nite bender of celebration at the "Garden"!

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 27, 2011 3:51 PM

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Also cause for heavy celebration among the ex-pat New York intellectuals was being dismissed by the likes of *Cohn*, regarding that as a badge of artistic integrity and honor! The dismissee often received with handshakes, congratulations and "hail fellow well met" bonhomie by his peers, with endless liquor fueling the good cheer! Their huge salaries, instead of making them fearful of losing their jobs, often made it easier to leave and move on to a comfortable, early retirement.

 

*Moe Howard*, in his autobiography, emphasises that their shorts were a collective creative effort. Despite the fact that a lot of the gags were improvised, the studio assigned the most edgy writers to work with them, foolishly hoping that that would be a "safe" place to put them, making juvenile slapstick shorts. The opposite happened. The "boys" in their nominally silly shorts, provided cover for a lot of humor that would have been more difficult to insert into a "serious" production and feature!

 

There was no "safe" place to put such people while you had them on the payroll! The *Stooge* shorts are laced with adult level references and humor as a result.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 27, 2011 4:27 PM

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I used to like the 3 Stooges a lot. My taste for slapstick has waned over the years.

 

But anyone who thinks Laurence Olivier and the Stooges are polar opposites have never seen his early movies. In *The Divorce of Lady X* he shows he can wrestle a bed with the best of them.

 

Check him out in *Too Many Crooks,* *The Temporary Widow,* or *Perfect Understanding.*

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Hello Capuchin,

 

I think the one credible way to connect Olivier and the Stooges in one sentence, was to highlight their contributions towards spotlighting the danger posed by Hitler.. (See my post below)

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> {quote:title=Capuchin wrote:}{quote}I used to like the 3 Stooges a lot. My taste for slapstick has waned over the years.

>

> But anyone who thinks Laurence Olivier and the Stooges are polar opposites have never seen his early movies. In *The Divorce of Lady X* he shows he can wrestle a bed with the best of them.

>

> Check him out in *Too Many Crooks,* *The Temporary Widow,* or *Perfect Understanding.*

I prefer him in these films to his more "substantial" roles.

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Dear Musicalnovelty!

 

Your post of Sep 25, 2011, 1:01 AM leaves me in considerable awe and admiration for your film researching skills! That was one nut I certainly would not have been able to crack! It answered a question that I've wondered about for years, but had no way of solving. Also impressive was your background on the musical intro to *Woman Haters (1934)*. I always know that around here, I am among a terrific peer goup, which encourages me to do my best!

 

The tune you identified "*Push Em' Up",* is best known to the public through a "washboard and spoon" version by the Three Stooges in *Disorder In the Court*, and a swing orchestra version used as background music in *Reefer Madness*. (I think the same character actor plays the judge in both films!) I have heard the tune in other films as well, and you have very ably listed them. It truly made the rounds! I have to wonder how a composition could have bounced around so much, from an independent to a few majors; one would think it was in the public domain.

 

I can only guess as to the meaning of the title, but I think it deriived from a dance gesture popular then, of pushing your arms into the air, palms up, on the accentuated, synchopated high note. A tune that encouraged dancers to do that was regarded as a "novelty number".

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who wish to hear a jamming orchestral swing version, go the *EXPLOITATION FILMS-FILMOGRAPHY* thread, then to the *Reefer Madness* post. It starts at *21:45* into the colorised version, after the kids change a record:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=161844&start=15&tstart=0

 

(the colorisation gets humorously surreal when everyone exhales a different color of smoke, yellow, pink, blue and red!)

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 28, 2011 1:01 AM

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> {quote:title=ThelmaTodd wrote:}{quote}Dear Musicalnovelty!

>

>

>

> Your post of Sep 25, 2011, 1:01 AM leaves me in considerable awe and admiration for your film researching skills! That was one nut I certainly would not have been able to crack! It answered a question that I've wondered about for years, but had no way of solving. Also impressive was your background on the musical intro to *Woman Haters (1934)*. I always know that around here, I am among a terrific peer goup, which encourages me to do my best! .....

 

Thanks for the nice words!

That kind of research can be difficult to do but is very rewarding especially when I see comments like yours!

 

Everyone knows (or can easily research) the hit songs in such popular classics as Fred Astaire or Busby Berkeley musicals, but I've always been interested to learn about such undocumented film music as the titles & composers of incidental music such as main titles to obscure comedy shorts, "Photoplay Music" in late silents, etc. And usually there's just no way to find such info in books or online and I have to do the digging myself.

 

I have done especially extensive research into Columbia shorts music, especially Three Stooges and the Musical Novelty series.

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There is SOMETHING to be said about the battle with the bowl of soup...Curly can match Fred Astaire with his ability to bring life to inanimate objects.

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Curly's inarguably the one most of us really watch, but actually Larry had a lot of funny lines too, even if he didn't have the broad mannerisms of Curly. When I saw a lot of these shorts most recently (I was on a Stooges kick some time back) I started listening to Larry more and found I laughed a lot at him.

 

After Curly left Shemp was fine, but then at some point the quality of the writing really went down and they seemed too old to be doing the same schtick.

 

Larry Olivier is okay too. ;)

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Hi Eugenia,

 

It's true, the "boys" got old doing their films; by the time Shemp came into the picture, they were recycling a lot of their old gags. Their film work in the 30's up to the WW2 period was often couched in poignant satire.

 

In one of their films (I forget which), they play pharmacy assistants, and work for a pharmacist who seems to have a most cordial relationship with a gangster who is due to stop by. The pharmacist tells them that he has to step out, and should the hoodlum show up, to take the best care of him. It all smacks of a relationship that goes beyond a simple shakedown for "protection". What was going on? Why roll out the red carpet for a guy like that?

 

When the hood does show up, he asks the stooges to mix him a "real drink" from stuff in the back room. The boys randomly mix chemicals and indavertantly create a rejuvenating potion! They serve it to the gangster, who drinks "too much"- the closing shot is of a chimpanzee in the man's suit!! Too much of the youth potion caused him to go back to Darwin's monkey. That end was a great satirical slam against a class of crooks that the public had had enough of in real life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al Capone had a healthy respect for pharmacists. They had one thing that Capone couldn't buy with all of his millions: a legal license to import liquor! Alcohol was commonly prescribed by doctors then for a variety of ailments, and so it was legally available through a pharmacist with a doctor's prescription. It was a big exception to the Prohibition law. (What about all of this sounds familiar today?)

 

(I have a souvenir historic postcard of a local pharmacy, taken in the 1920's, when Prohibition was in force. Undeneath the glass cases in the picture I see hundreds of different bottles of liquor on display, in effect allowing the customer/prescription holder to pick and choose his favored brand of "medicine"! The pharmacy was in effect a semi-legalised liquor store.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever Capone drove by a pharmacy, he would order a stop and go inside. Capone would routinely have all doorways to an establishment covered by his "torpedoes", two men on the outside, two on the inside of each doorway. Nobody allowed in, nobody allowed out without the permission of the Big Guy.

Capone would then sweetly ask the pharmacist if he "had anything for him"! What he wanted was cases of real scotch, brandy, gin and other liquor imported from europe- not the stuff made in a bathtub! Threatening the man wouldn't do, as killing him would kill the source of the golden eggs. This was the only class of businessman that Capone and his mob would treat with respect and deference.

 

Pharmacists found it fantastically lucrative to work with mobsters! Bottles of the real stuff, that could be imported from europe at 3-4 dollars a bottle, would be sold at $100-$300 dollars a bottle, sometimes even more! (About $4,500 in todays dough; people were willing to pay through the nose for the stuff!). Another hustle was having the pharmacist take back the empty bottles, refill and reseal them with cheap gangster provided hooch, which was then passed off as the real thing. (A common scam back then) Often a pharmacist would have 5 or 10 cases, sometimes more, of the best imported scotch on hand in response to such a request, and Big Al would be all smiles! It was truly "win-win"!

 

Other pharmacists sold narcotics to the hoods, which they could legally acquire and stockpile. Back then you didn't have the regulation and oversight that would force the pharmacist to account for where and to who all that stuff went. They could buy unlimited amounts of morphine from their suppliers for example; many would know just who to sell it to.

 

Another hot number for the pharmacist was to combine opiates with alcohol in a mixture known as "*laudanum*". This too, the hoods eagerly bought, as many addicts preferred such a delivery system. Patent medicines, to which many women got addicted for their "ailments", were none other than a form a laudanum. Laudanum also had uses by shady people as a "knock out" substance concealed as a "drink"- hence the infamous "*mickey finn*" that is jokingly referred to in Stooge films. Humphrey Bogart, as Sam Spade, was likely served such a mixture by the fat man in the *Maltese Falcon (1941),* which knocks him out. In the book version of *The Big Sleep (1946),* Carmen Sternwood is doped up on this mixture by blackmailer Geiger

 

 

 

Gangsters and pharmacists were truly a marriage made in heaven, with plenty of smiles, hugs and money to go around for all!

 

None of this was a secret to the public at the time. There was little federal law, and the state and local authorities were easily bought off by the racketeers. It was against this backdrop that the stooges made their brilliant satire.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 30, 2011 11:59 AM

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> {quote:title=EugeniaH wrote:}{quote}Curly's inarguably the one most of us really watch, but actually Larry had a lot of funny lines too, even if he didn't have the broad mannerisms of Curly. When I saw a lot of these shorts most recently (I was on a Stooges kick some time back) I started listening to Larry more and found I laughed a lot at him.

>

> After Curly left Shemp was fine, but then at some point the quality of the writing really went down and they seemed too old to be doing the same schtick.

>

>

>

>

>

> Larry Olivier is okay too. ;)

>

Ya know Eugenia, after reading this post of yours here, your last line had me thinkin' that if only I was even a little proficient at photoshoping pictures, it would be kinda funny to take some random still photo of the Three Stooges and replace Larry Fine's face in it with that of Larry Olivier's. That would pretty much encapsulate this whole thread, wouldn't it?! ;)

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*Ya know Eugenia, after reading this post of yours here, your last line had me thinkin' that if only I was even a little proficient at photoshoping pictures, it would be kinda funny to take some random still photo of the Three Stooges and replace Larry Fine's face in it with that of Larry Olivier's. That would pretty much encapsulate this whole thread, wouldn't it?!* ;)

 

Those are way beyond my computer skills, too! But my imagination is doing a good job of it. I'm picturing Larry Fine holding a skull and saying, "Alas, poor Yorick..." ;)

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Hi Eugenia!

 

The more one knows about the historical back drop of these satirical features, the more one can laugh at the various levels of humor that are embedded into them. Thus an adult and a small child can both laugh while watching, but often for different reasons!

 

I read about Capone pulling this "four men per doorway" stunt in Florida, in a copy of the *New Yorker* magazine dated from the late 20's. Besides having all exits covered, he would then waltz in with an "entourage" consisting of still more armed bodygaurds, not counting those outside protecting the vehicles. (Capone regularly travelled in 6-7 car caravans, carrying all this "muscle") All he wanted, for all this show of force, was to buy a pair of "waterwings", for which he duly paid something like $2!! The poor store owner almost died of fright! It was duly noted that Capone acted throughout the whole episode like a real friendly and courteous gentleman. No doubt to many of the New York sophisticates who read the magazine, such an incident was a real hoot- the real laugh being that somebody could get away with this in America.

 

When making his regular "pharmacy calls" in Chicago, this kind of display often terrified the "civilians" who might happen to be in the shop having a soda or making purchases. Capone, gentleman that he sometimes could be, would magnanimously announce that everyone's food, drink and purchases were "on me!". He was good at playing for public approval. Many people still preserve fond memories of him in Chicagoland.

 

 

PS: If anybody out there recalls the title of the stooge "pharmacy" film mentioned below, I would appreciate a heads up. It was one of their early shorts with Curly. There may have been a recylced "shemp" version of the story, but of that I'm not sure.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 30, 2011 1:56 PM

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