‘Hoi Polloi’ (1935) was the 10th short film made by the Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Thursday, May 2nd through Monday, May 6th 1935 and released on Thursday, August 29th of that year. I consider this to be the first truly great Stooge short and include it in my top five Curly’s (the others being ‘Calling All Curs’, ‘An Ache In Every Stake’, ‘A Plumbing We Will Go’ and ‘Violent Is The Word For Curly’). Every joke works, each scene is meticulously laid out with perfect set-up/delivery routines and the gradual build to the final party and its unusual role-switch finale (the Stooges become the gentleman while the party they’ve ruined descends into Stooge-inspired madness) brings the film to an enormously satisfying peak and ensuing conclusion. The film was unhappily remade in 1947 as ‘Half-Wits Holiday’ which turned out to be Curly’s last short. By that time his energy was severely depleted as a result of the strokes he’d suffered over the previous years and that film ends with a pie fight scene in which Curly disappears, the result of his having to be taken to the hospital from the set after suffering his most severe stroke. Scenes from ‘Hot Polloi’ were shamelessly lifted for ‘Half Wits Holiday’, including the hilarious routine with the dance instructor played by Geneva Mitchell (she was featured as the Queen in ‘Restless Knights’ which I posted last week). As for the title, ‘Hoi Polloi’ began its life by meaning ‘the many’, and can be found in the famous ‘Funeral Oration’ by Pericles. Later it morphed into a derogatory term for the masses–‘the plebs’, ‘the common people’, the ‘riff-raff’. The direction by Del Lord is top-notch and even the sets (which likely were leftover from a more prestigious Columbia production) give the film distinction. Finally, what could be better than a couch spring attached to a dancing Curly’s ass? I’ve been trying to figure out how they did his fall on floor–bounce back up stunt and think I see a small jump cut when he’s on the floor before he springs up. Or was it just the case of Curly being a manically good acrobat?


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One Response

  1. This has always been one of my favorites. Their timing and the flow of the whole short is fantastic. Curly on top of his game, the spring biz is such a great effect, and his gigantic dance partner, hilarious. Thanks for digging it up!

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