‘No Census, No Feeling’ (1940) was the fiftieth short subject made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Saturday, May 25th through Wednesday, May 29th, 1940 and was released on Friday, November 4th of that year. The film begins with the inadvertent destruction of a shopkeepers sidewalk display (filmed on the Columbia Pictures backlot ‘New York Street’–they stand in front of the same brownstone stoop that Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur sit on during the famous make-out scene in ‘The More The Merrier’ shot two years later). It then moves onto a long set-piece dinner party/bridge game sequence (which looks to me like it was shot on the standing set originally built for the Hepburn/Grant/Cukor ‘Holiday’, filmed at Columbia two years earlier) and finally climaxes with a completely absurd and unforeseen football game romp. At the end, the boys are chased off the field and run through a side gate that leads from the Columbia Pictures backlot to Gower Street with no effort made whatsoever to disguise where they are. The film was photographed by Lucien Ballard who later shot the bulk of Sam Peckinpah’s greatest films (including ‘The Wild Bunch’) and who was married to the actress Merle Oberon in the 1940s. Oberon had suffered facial injuries in the car accident that was responsible for ending the production of ‘I Claudius’ (1937) and Ballard developed a special light that attached to the side of the camera that diffused the light on that side of her face. It was nicknamed ‘Obie’ and the Obie was in use for decades afterward. Ballard and Oberon divorced however. I wonder if Peckinpah, a true connoisseur of violence,  was a Stooge fan and if he and Ballard ever chewed the fat about the boys and their stuntwork? I’m quite certain Merle Oberon wasn’t and perhaps it was her discovery of her husbands unsavory beginnings as a Stooge D.P. that hastened the end of their union, ‘Obie’ or no ‘Obie’.


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