|Cerebus #269 (August 2001)|
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Notes On Latter Days, Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days, 2003)
...What is interesting is that the [Three Stooges] shorts, themselves are, indeed, not very good. I mean, as entertainment, if you're talking about the writing and acting - apart from the Stooges themselves who are beautifully crafted "shorthand" personalities - the shorts are terrible. The actresses especially all have that look about them: immaculate babes who are just not actresses. The Stooges shorts scream "casting couch", even for a time when all movie acting was pretty broad and pretty unrealistic. There's something "off" about each of the actresses: too tall, voice to nasal, nose tilted wrong, eyes uneven, bad posture. Amazing "casting couch" material but, I mean, Lucille Ball comes off like Katherine Hepburn in this crowd. They seem "foisted" onto the Stooges machine, as does the writing.
And machine it was. 97 shorts in thirteen year, until Curly had his stroke in the middle of filming Half-Wits Holiday in '47. And they finished the day's work without him and then brought Shemp back for Fright Night. Amazing work ethic.
I would maintain that the success of the Stooges' shorts - and unbeknownst to them, Columbia was using the shorts as leverage to get the movie houses to show Columbia's films they weren't really interested in showing, that's how wide and deep the Stooges' popularity was - was attributable to that timing, that razor sharpness and the personalities that they developed in interacting with each other. As Sterenko wrote about the 1940s Superman, he was invulnerable, even bad scripts couldn't hurt him. That was the Stooges. Most of their scripts are so badly cobbled together, so filled with non-sequiters that you would swear someone lost a page and they just kept filming anyway, taking it as a given that it really didn't matter who the girl was or why her father said that or why the chief of police waked in at that moment. It was all just so much driftwood on which to hang that immaculate ballet of Stooge timing. The script could have consisted of everyone else reading the phone book aloud and "Stooges do shtick here" and you still would have had a hit.