SATURDAY STOOGEFEST

‘Dizzy Pilots’ (1943) is the seventy-fourth two-reel comedy made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Tuesday, April 6th through Friday, April 9th 1943 and released on Friday, September 24th of that year. The central gag of the film–one of their strangest and most inventive–involves Moe getting dipped into a bath of rubber which causes him to go airborne in the airplane hanger where they’re working. It’s the closest to surrealism the Stooges ever came and I’m at a loss to imagine who came up with such a concept and how they executed it. The film is one of the last great Curly shorts–by the end of the year and beginning of the following year he was showing signs of slowness and lethargy which were the result (we now know) of traumatic brain injuries sustained during the making of these films. ‘Dizzy Pilots’ is consistently inventive up until its final five minutes, when the decision was made to lift a chunk out of another Stooge comedy (‘Boobs In Arms’) and tack it on to the end of this one. It’s the first sign of director Jules White’s increasing fondness for recycling footage from other films into new ones, thus saving time and money (to say nothing of effort). This unfortunate cancer would spread over the next decade and would climax in the ‘Fake Shemp’ shorts of the mid-fifties, in which a dead Shemp Howard managed to keep performing in at least four more Stooge comedies thanks to a willing stand-in and White’s constant raiding of material from other shorts. But forget all that. Just enjoy this superbly devised and executed example of the Stooges at the peak of the Curly years.

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