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  • Lance Mannion
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Bill Altreuter

I've always liked the story that had it that a Stooges script set the scene, then had the direction, "The Stooges ENTER and do their stuff." Probably apocryphal, but I can still choose to believe it if I want to.

It is worth noting that The Marx Brothers stage hits were written by some pretty big names. George S. Kaufman wrote The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers (and the screenplay for A Night at the Opera) although all of these had elements and gags from their vaudeville act. Irving Thalberg, a famous control freak produced A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races-- probably their two best pictures. The Stooges, g-d bless them, never had the benefit of collaborators of that quality. It's true that the Marx Brothers' brand of comedy was more scripted, but I'm not so sure that it is accurate to say that the Bros. movies were more character driven than the Stooges-- or even that much more cerebral. The Stooges made bad puns too, you know.

I'd be inclined to ascribe the difference between the two acts as being more or less the difference between vaudeville and burlesque. But what do I know-- I'm a W.C. Fields man.


A remake of "True Grit"? Are you fucking kidding me? The arrogance! Who're they gonna get to play Rooster Cogburn, John Goodman? Why not do a remake of "The Searchers" and "Lonesome Dove" while they're at it?

Dave Sikula

I'd have let Michael Chiklis play Curly again. He nailed it in that TV movie. But for the rest, you're dead on. The Stooges relied on material they'd honed in vaudeville and nightclubs; they knew what they were doing because they'd been doing it forever, and it was organic to them. Anyone else doing that material just as material is going to suffer.

I saw the Stooges in person when I was seven. They did a personal appearance (along with "The Three Stooges in Orbit") at the brand new movie theatre in town. I had a seat right down front and had the time of my life; they were exactly what a seven-year-old wants in sophisticated humor.

"Why you ...!"


"Not to get all meta-critical, but Harpo's silence is a commentary on the fact that character is a product of language. Harpo's frightening because he is wordless and he forces other people into speechlessness, wordlessness, and in the process deconstructs their characters---he robs people of their individuality."

Lance, you did...but you are dead on, as usual. Keep up the good work!


It is worth noting that The Marx Brothers stage hits were written by some pretty big names. George S. Kaufman wrote The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers (and the screenplay for A Night at the Opera) although all of these had elements and gags from their vaudeville act.
You're right, Bill, and please don't forget the great S. J. Perleman. I think "Groucho" was Perleman's alter ego.
Why didn't the producers hire Seth Rogan as Curly? He's already-um-portly. And isn't Jim Carrey six foot two or three? Penn won't be able to reach Carrey's noggin much less bash it in.
Count me as a former little girl who loved the original Three. I've never understood where the idea that girls don't laugh at the Stooges came from.
The saddder part of me thinks it's because a patriarchal society doesn't like to see girls or women laugh period.

minstrel hussain boy

your analysis of the stooges not being up to the length of a feature film is spot on lance. in burlesque or vaudeville they were what is called "transition acts." have you ever been to one of those megasize reviews in vegas where right after a big ass production number a magician, or a guy who plays accordian while riding a unicycle on a card table comes out for a few minutes? those folks aren't there to carry the show, or do anything but hold your attention while the stage crew changes the set and the girls change pasties.

10 to fifteen minutes of stooges is funny, stupid, violent, fast paced funny. thing is, after ten minutes you are ready for more t&a.


A Coen Bros. version of "Duck Soup"?
Javier Bardem as Harpo. 'Nuf Said.

Ken Houghton

"True Grit's the only movie that I've understood in years" -- was likely false for the song at the time, and certainly won't be true of the Coen Brothers, whose adaptation of either The Odyssey (they claimed) or Howard Waldrop's A Dozen Tough Jobs (much more likely) had the virtue of a soundtrack.


Funny you should post this now. Yesterday I almost bought Steve a birthday card with a recording of the three stooges yucking it up. I said almost...
Today (the 29th) is his B'day, by the way!

Kevin Wolf

Paraphrasing what I said in comments over at Shakesville, when everybody started piling on the Stooges for not being the Marx Bros: That the Marx Brothers made movies of real genius is not a stick to beat the Stooges with, besides which Moe has that covered.

I've always enjoyed the Stooges and still do. I put them on and sort of half-watch and can do so for hours, stopping on occasion to closely watch a particular bit. I'm sure much of the draw is nostalgia, but I've even grown to like some of the later shorts, so I think there's something intrinsic to the whole thing that is just plain likable. (Speaking of later shorts, you could get all "meta" again looking at Joe Besser's character, the "sissy," and its relation to prior incarnations of the same type, as personified by, say, Eric Blore. Pauline Kael has a few things to say about that "type.")

Anyway, I can't help liking the Stooges. They are what they are -- no more, no less. They are not ironic. They're self-referential only in that they repeated shtick for decades. The Stooges movie under discussion -- that anyone would even consider it -- shows how far we've come from the Stooges' film heyday and, even moreso, from the vaudeville that spawned them. And not necessarily in a good way.


The scary bit of the Coens doing the Marx Brothers is the sad thought that somehow, they'll sneak Nic Cage into it.

Maybe as Zeppo...I can live with that.

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