‘Listen, Judge’ (1952) is the 138th short comedy made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Tuesday, November 6 through Thursday, November 8, 1951 and was released on Thursday, March 6th, 1952 (the 66th day in the Gregorian Calendar). The film is a mash-up of three Curly entries, all superior to this one which features Shemp. The first section, which involves a chicken-stealing scenario in a courtroom and the subsequent vengeance pursued by the judge, is from the opening of ‘A Plumbing We Will Go’ (1940), a film that is one of my picks for top five greatest Stooges shorts ever. The second section, in which the Stooges pretend to be handymen and tear up a house while attempting to fix a broken doorbell, is lifted from ‘They Stooge To Conga’ (1943), which I posted a couple of weeks ago and which makes my top ten Stooge list. Finally, act three is a lift from ‘An Ache In Every Stake’ (1942), one of the finest of all Curly shorts. All this makes me wonder if there was an actual ‘writers room’ for the Stooge shorts, a loose sort of gathering in which Jules White, Moe Howard, Ed Bernds, Felix Adler and Elwood Ullman reflected on past shorts and old routines in an effort to churn out new material in a timely fashion. How many original plots, after all, can one come up with for the Stooges? (You’ll note that I don’t include Larry or Shemp in this notional writers room–Larry is at the racetrack and Shemp is at the fights). Perhaps the Columbia film vaults occasionally received a call from the Short Subjects Department ordering up a print of an old Stooge short–Elwood Ullman is credited for the script on two of the three above-mentioned shorts so presumably he’d have recalled the titles of the films. I like the idea of this group of men re-watching their movies from the past in order to mine them for current material and perhaps even getting a little wistful upon seeing the late Curly Howard. For certainly they all knew that while Shemp was a trouper, recreating Curly’s routines was an exercise in comic futility.


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