‘Movie Maniacs’ (1936) is the 13th short subject made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed in August, 1935 (no exact dates are available) and released on Thursday, February 20th 1936. I thought it would be an appropriate choice for this weekend, which will likely be remembered for being the last on which a network telecast the Academy Awards. (Assuming the awards survive at all my guess is that they’ll become a one-off subscription event available on a streaming service–something like the old pay-per-view model). As for the film itself, we are still not quite in high-Curly gear yet–the pacing is noticeably improved from the first batch of shorts though the amount of gag invention is somewhat limited. It’s nice to see a little of the Columbia backlot doubling for ‘Carnation Studios’ and the final shot shows us one of the side streets bordering the studio, with a view of some sickly palm trees in the distance. I guess the real interest here is in the ‘meta’ of the whole thing; the Stooges were filming this short about a studio lot while on that lot ‘Mr. Deeds Goes To Town’ was being shot. Did Frank Capra enjoy sharing the lot with Howard, Fine and Howard? Were friendly hello’s exchanged? Capra began his career as a Mack Sennett gagman so its very possible he found the Stooges entertaining. Perhaps Capra stood off-camera during the filming of some of these scenes–seeing the making of a two-reel comedy could have been a source of nostalgia for Capra, then at the height of his fame and suffering under the weight of expectations for commercial and artistic success on a level that the Stooges didn’t have to worry about. Was the set that’s used for the movie-set in this film a standing drawing-room set and had another Columbia feature just wrapped on it? And those lions at the end…were they MGM’s?


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