3D Week continues to plumb the depths of the third dimension, bringing you fully-rounded characterisations from the Stooges Three. Who thought it was a good idea to thrust these appalling figures into the public’s laps? Jules White, it turns out, is the answer — one of the “brains” behind the DOGVILLE SHORTS series. Man, he had a brilliant kind of anti-talent.
I once described the Three Stooges style as comedy made by pornographers — something about the low-grade stag film production values, the money-shot leering closeups of fingers penetrating faces, and the crudely biological brutalism. I can watch their films, in awed fascination and repugnance, and even laugh in a despairing kind of way, but I not only don’t really respect the stooges, but I’d be suspicious of anybody who counted them as favourites. Nonetheless, I’ve accrued a certain amount of obscure knowledge of stoogery through the ages, which I will reluctantly pass on to you.
The “Three” Stooges is actually a misnomer, since there were in fact twenty-seven separate actors portraying Moe, Larry and Curly at various times in their “career.” It was necessary to maintain a backlog of replacement Stooges since the boys were continually being concussed, crippled and blinded by their carefree knockabout activities. Sometimes they were injured while acting, too. One Stooge movie, 1948’s OUCH! MY NECK! featured no less than sixteen stooges in one scene.
Plastic surgeon to the stars Burl Haggard was employed round the clock to transform struggling bit players into standby stooges. After a promising start to his career, refashioning various extruded polymers to create the Gabor sisters, Haggard had developed an alcoholic tremor that limited his range, so that he could only do stooges. Fortunately, the demand never let up.
Some of these cloned clowns actually broke away from the main body of stoogedom and attempted independant careers, but with little success. One trio actually drifted into “smokers,” one-reel pornographic movies, with titles like SCREWED STOOGE and POKE ME, CURLY (future productions simply recycled existing Stooge titles, since those already sounded filthy enough: FIDDLER’S THREE, PARDON MY CLUTCH, TRICKY DICKS and ALL GUMMED UP).