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!)
Hagsploitation: a term that I possibly just thought up or I stole it from someone else (but can’t remember who it was). Either way, it’s a term that usually brings to mind actresses “of a certain age,” like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Shelley Winters or even Debbie Reynolds (when she and Winters starred in What’s the Matter With Helen, she was all of 38 years old!)
However, hagsploitation wasn’t just for women—any time you saw an old vaudevillian like George Jessel in Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, it was hagsploitation. Sure, it was said to be a cameo, but come on, we know what it was, and it was hagsploitation, pure and simple.
Now this may sound like I’m knocking older actors for appearing in films long past their “prime.” Come on—I’m a Stooge fan that wanted to see Howard, Sitka and DeRita in Blazing Stewardesses—I can hardly be called anti-hag! Interestingly, it was director Al Adamson’s leitmotif—giving older actors a chance to get in front of new audiences. Whether or not the vehicles used for that chance were any good or not…well, work is work!
Enjoy these sites and their reviews of hagsploitation films!
What’s the Matter With Helen? (1971) from Dreams Are What Le Cinema Is For… it’s got repressed lesbianism, murderous sons, and religious fundamentalism.
Blazing Stewardesses (1975) from DVD Drive-In…
Last but not least, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), from The Aisle Seat…
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!
Well, how ’bout that?! Apparently, I skipped over day 10 in my “writings.” Meh, I’ll just kill two birds with one stone…but how? What two things can I cover in less than a thousand words that would cover my love of all things 1970s and the last films of famous folks?
Did someone ask for Doctor Death, Seeker of Souls? If you didn’t, too bad! There are no degrees of stoogeration here, because there’s an actual Stooge in it–one Moe Howard (credited as the man in the audience/volunteer). I’ve heard his cameo described as a dirty old man, but the man had been in vaudeville/burlesque! Who wouldn’t be a dirty old man (or woman) after that?! After you read about Doctor Death, check out all the other cool stuff at
The Last Drive In!
I know, I know…yet another day without the Flesh Feast review. But I have a good excuse! I’ve been bingeing on this new blog I found, and I think I’ve found another (yes, ANOTHER!) influence on how/where/what I want Six Degrees of Stoogeration to be. Ironically, the subject is Joan Crawford, who the Stooges (then known as Ted Healy and His Stooges) shared the screen with in Dancing Lady (1933). The subject is the camp classic Mommie Dearest (1981), which I vaguely remember being in the theatres. At least I remember all the jokes comedians made.
Years later, I saw the film on TV and I didn’t get what the deal was. I knew OF Joan Crawford, and what I knew, didn’t seem that much different than what was on the screen. Faye Dunaway’s performance didn’t seem to warrant the brickbats the Razzie folks were raining upon her. I mean, look at the damn woman in any film past 1950. You can’t NOT imagine that that’s a drag queen. Go ahead, I dare you! I’ve seen Dancing Lady multiple times, and I cannot reconcile the Joan Crawford I see there with the Joan Crawford of 1967’s Berserk! It’s not just age–in fact, age doesn’t even enter into it. Bette Davis aged in Stooge Years ™, yet didn’t quite seem to be the garish whirlwind of WTF?! that Crawford was. Everything seemed so EXAGGERATED. The eyebrows. The hair, oh sweet Jesus THE HAIR! If Elizabeth Taylor could keep her hair dark most of her life, why in the world did Joan, er, Miss Crawford, scald our eyeballs with such monstrosities as that “Old Lady Red” deal she had in Trog (1970)? WHO THOUGHT THAT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?!
Now, what was I talking about? Oh, Mommie Dearest and the fact that it seems more true than not…at least with Miss Crawford’s larger than life personality. Maybe it’s just me, but there was a lot in the film that rang true. Joan did seem like she would say “Don’t f*** with me fellas!”
Let me get back to the subject of this blog–it’s more than your snarky run down of Z movies…it’s that, but it’s more–it’s a personal insight on what makes movies tick for him, it’s essays that “spoil” the movie (which I love), and the comments! Oh, the comments! Such comments I’ve not seen since the olden days of the internet/sitting around with my piano teacher! Knowledgeable folks who’ve often rubbed shoulders with the subject/stars of the film, it’s hard not to get lost in reading the comments and fall down the YouTube/Google hole of finding out more.
I’ve rambled long enough (when I could’ve been writing about Veronica Lake and FloridaNazispoitation!)
Ken Anderson’s http://lecinemadreams.blogspot.com! You won’t regret it!
Yes, another food-centered, non-Six Degrees of Stoogeration entry. I’ll get to Flesh Feast (1970) one of these days, I promise!
This is another one of my inspirational sites. I know that I won’t be taking pictures of food (unless I unearth Moe and Larry’s recipes!) but it turns out that writing a movie review is hard work! Who knew?!