‘All The World’s A Stooge’ is the 55th short subject made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Saturday, August 24th through Wednesday, August 28th 1940 and was released on Friday, May 16th 1941. The plot–such as it is–has to do with European child war refugees, a topical subject at the time and one that might mislead the viewer into believing they were going to see a thoughtfully crafted comedy about a current event. In fact the plot makes even less sense than most Stooge shorts, leaping pointlessly from a dentists office opening scene (featuring a very good Curly entrance) in which they are either window washers or dentists or both, inexplicably leading to them becoming war ‘orphans’ and wearing bizarre adult-sized children’s clothes that look like they’re out of a road company production of ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’. This free-association style of plotting is actually a bit unusual for the Stooges–generally a simple and clear structure exists for the gags to get hung on, one that doesn’t require too much thought. On the other hand it makes ‘All The World’s A Stooge’ all the more unusual an outing.
The dentist in the opening scene is played by an actor named Richard Fiske who turns up in several other Stooge shorts of the period, most memorably playing a neurotic drill instructor in 1940s ‘Boobs In Arms’. I always found Fiske unusually funny and peculiar and wondered why I didn’t see him in more movies after his Stooge appearances. (Actually he took a step up the casting rung in 1942 when he played Ginger Rogers fiancee in Billy Wilder’s debut film ‘The Major And The Minor’). So I looked him up this morning and found that he was killed in action on August 10, 1944 at Le Croix-Avranchin, while serving with the 9th Infantry. Though Fiske was never awarded an Oscar, he was awarded (posthumously) a Purple Heart as well as a Bronze Star Medal. We hearby dedicate this weekend’s viewing of ‘All The World’s A Stooge’ to the memory of Richard Fiske, a forgotten Stooge hero.