‘Three Pests In A Mess’ (1945) is the 83rd short comedy made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Thursday, June 22nd through Monday, June 26th 1944 and released on Friday, January 19 1945 (the 19th day on the Gregorian calendar). This is a top notch Curly entry directed (and written) by Del Lord and, though it was made close to the period when Curly’s illness begins to affect his performance, he shows no signs of diminishment in this short. Indeed Curly’s spot-on manic timing and the smartly organized script make this one of the fastest watches in the Stooge canon. The film breathlessly proceeds from a first section involving an office building-set sequence as the Stooges (mistaken for lottery winners) tangle with gangster-conmen, as well as the always fab Christine McIntyre. (The explanation by Moe as to how the flycatcher they’ve invented works is actually laugh-out-loud funny). The second part is set in a ‘haunted’ graveyard and, though many of the gags are predictable, they’re delivered with speed and aplomb–characteristics of Lord’s direction vs. Jules White’s less sleek hand (White’s version of this would most certainly have felt labored and indistinct). Once again, I find myself acting much more middle-aged when watching these now (as opposed to my slap-happy youthful viewing of the Stooges) and am constantly worried that the props are real, not made of rubber, and that the prongs that neatly grab Moe around the neck (12:36) were somehow rigged so as to not put him in any real danger when shooting the gag. But there’s no real proof that they were that safety-conscious. Indeed, part of the pride of slapstick comedians was their ability to withstand pratfalls that would send most of us to the hospital, slaps and punches that would devastate most people (certainly me) and live-action stunts (walking on window ledges etc.) that I would be hard-pressed to try even if offered sizable money. And the Stooges weren’t exactly making sizable money. They made a living, worked like hell and never expected that their fame would reach into the 21st century. Had they, they might have struck for better wages…


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One Response

  1. Well assessed in your writeup, I marvel at the props and sets that were so “real” as a kid, looking “cartoonic” to me now. SO WELL PACED,
    and Christine….

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