‘Loco Boy Makes Good’ (1942) was the 60th short film made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Tuesday, July 29 through Friday, August 1, 1941 and released on Thursday, January 8, 1942, making it the first Three Stooges short to be released after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. It’s an excellent outing from the prime Curly period (which I think of as 1937-43). The weird thing is: I’ve been watching Three Stooges shorts since I was six years old and i have virtually no memory of this one. How could this be? By now I’ve seen all of them many times over. And yet, watching this the other day, not a thing about it seemed familiar. Having done a little research I think I may have a theory as to why. Here goes:
The script was co-written by longtime Stooge contributing writers Felix Adler and Clyde Bruckman. Bruckman was a veteran comedy scribe whose work went back to the silent era and who worked with Harold Lloyd, notably directing one of Lloyd’s few talkies ‘Movie Crazy’ (1932). That movie contains a lengthy comedy routine wherein Lloyd accidentally switches coats with a magician whose stuffed the pockets with various animals–birds, mice etc. Not knowing of their presence, Lloyd precedes to enter a club and is surprised to find that he’s inhabited by wildlife. This routine is borrowed in full in ‘Loco Boy Makes Good’, with Curly in the Lloyd role. I imagine Bruckman, under a deadline, figured that if it worked once it would work again and besides, who the hell remembered ‘Movie Crazy’ ten years later? The answer was: Harold Lloyd. Incensed that his material was appropriated by his former collaborator, Lloyd brought a $500,000 suit ($8,292,261 today) against Columbia Pictures for violation of copyright. The court found the script for ‘Loco Boy Makes Good’ virtually identical with the script for ‘Movie Crazy’. Columbia lost the suit. Is it possible that the film was taken out of circulation as a result, when the Columbia short films library was leased to Screen Gems for television airing? I can’t for the life of me figure out how I could have missed this one so I’ll assume the Bruckman suit was the reason and not a case of me having CRS (can’t remember shit). By the way, the hapless Bruckman appeared not to learn his lesson after this disaster. Indeed it seemed to embolden him. Bruckman was hired by Universal Pictures to write comedy scenes for the studio’s ‘B musical features. He continued recycling gags but on a larger scale, now lifting entire sequences from older films. He inserted the tuxedo routine into Universal’s ‘B’ musical-comedy feature ‘Her Lucky Night’. Bruckman adapted material from Lloyd’s ‘Welcome Danger’ into Universal’s Joan Davis-Leon Errol comedy ‘She Gets Her Man’, and again plundered ‘Movie Crazy’ for Universal’s ‘B’ comedy ‘So’s Your Uncle’. Lloyd, outraged by three “wholesale infringements” within months, filed suit for $1,700,000; the court ruled for Lloyd. Bruckman was fired, and never worked on a feature film again. Demoralized, he returned to Columbia, where his work was now so slipshod that he would simply hand in an old script, without any attempt at updating or revising it. With nowhere else to turn, the desolate Bruckman borrowed a .45-caliber pistol from Buster Keaton, claiming to need it for a hunting trip. On the afternoon of January 4, 1955, Bruckman parked his car outside a Santa Monica restaurant, entered a restroom, and shot himself in the head. He left a typed note requesting that his wife be notified and his body be donated for medical or experimental purposes, stating that “I have no money to pay for a funeral.” And on that happy note enjoy ‘Loco Boy Makes Good’!