The comedy world lost one of the funniest men to ever grace the screen. He didn’t have to say a single word…once he walked into the shot, you felt like laughing, even if he didn’t do anything.
He was also one of the first “sploitation” actors–if you’ve heard the term “Fake Shemp,” this is what they mean. There were four films created with the Fake Shemp (Joe Palma), and since Jules White could direct and produce a film in a matter of HOURS with footage of Shemp from an old short, throw in some new footage of Moe and Larry, and voila! You’ve got a new film to fool theatre managers made for the fraction of the price of a new one! It’s win-win…until Moe and Larry (and even Harry Cohn) realized they couldn’t run the Shempsploitation Express forever…so along came EVERYONE’S favorite Stooge replacement, Joe Besser!
(I actually liked Besser–he was such a totally different comedian that you just went “WHAT?!” when you saw him with the rough and tumble Moe and Larry. No, I’m not giving up my Stooge card–I’ve had it since 1975!)
You knew it was coming–there was no way I could talk about Flesh Feast, Hitler, and anti-aging maggots without bringing up #Nazisploitation!
I’d love to think that Flesh Feast (1967, released in 1970) was the first film to explore Nazisploitation, but that would make me forget this…
They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1962)
The Great Dictator
The Nazty Nuisance
And of course, You Nazty Spy!
Of course, it goes without saying…Stooges did it first! But seriously, Nazisploitation was going on even before the world knew of most of the atrocities Hitler (and the allies, but we’re focusing on Hitler/Nazisploitation now) were committing. The “Throw him in a concentrative camp!” joke Moe makes is odd–people were using black humor as the war was going on to stay sane? Granted, that joke was better than the Stooges’ other war efforts, in particular 1944’s No Dough, Boys and The Yoke’s On Me. (That one is particularly ugggggggggggg….)
So, IS there a “true” beginning of Nazisploitation, or is it a case of many people having the same idea at roughly the same time? I’m thinking a little of both, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a Poverty Poverty Poverty Row studio out there that somehow managed to beat Columbia to the punch and released a short in 1938!
For some strange reason, I had an urge to watch You Nazty Spy! last night. Who knows what could’ve drawn me to that particular short (in which an incompetent boob is chosen to run a country) last night of all nights. Call it intuition, if you will.
That’s all I have to say. Oh, there’s this wonderful quote:
(Moe) Hailstone: “What does a dictator do?”
Ixnay: “A dictator? Why, he makes love to beautiful women, drinks champagne, enjoys life and never works. He makes speeches to the people, promising them plenty, gives them nothing, then takes everything! That‘s a dictator!”
(Curly) Pebble: “Hmmm! A parasite! That’s for me!”
Some guy I’ve never heard of (you probably haven’t, either) was born (kinda) on this day in 1902.*
(He was actually born on September 5, 1902, but for some reason, he–and his siblings–thought that his birthday was in October. He didn’t even find out until he had to use a birth certificate to obtain a passport!)
Anyway, here’s the guy you’ve never seen, but should TOTALLY run for president…even if he’s been dead for 41 years!
Instead of drowning my unemployment anniversary sorrows with Diet Coke (or Diet Mountain Dew), I’ve decided to laugh in the face of continued in-between-engagement-ism (that’s a perfectly cromulent word!) and get started on my annual Hallowe’en B-movie thon a day early.
The first short on the list Three Pests in a Mess (1945), isn’t technically a “scare” short, but there’s a bit where the fellows run around the Ever-Rest Pet Cemetary with a “body” (actually a dummy that Curly “shot”). It’s funny and fast paced and interestingly, is one of the final shorts Curly would film before his stroke later in 1945. It’s amazing to see how much he aged in a matter of months. Funnily enough, the “old age” of 42 seemed ancient for the Stooges, but 42 now? A mere baby! Maybe people just lived harder back then.
The rest of the list includes the usual “spook” themed shorts, as well as the last short filmed–Flying Saucer Daffy (1957). It’s a Besser-era short, which is “Niagara Falls!” for some Stooge fans, but you have to admit, Joe Besser was a talented comic, and he could hold his own with Moe and Larry…even though he didn’t really fit. Sometimes that worked (like this short), sometimes it didn’t (the reincarnation shorts). Then again, after 20+ years, I’m not sure what would’ve worked after the deaths of Curly and Shemp.
Anyhoo, that’s the first half of the Halloween-a-Rama, the second begins tomorrow night!