False Alarms [1936]

This collection is one of the shorter in the Columbia sets, running at 48 minutes. "False Alarms" (1936 and the 17th short of the Three Stooges series) and "Flat Foot Stooges" (1938, #31) both have the boys as firemen. In the first, there is only a series of incidents rather than a plot, most of which center on the viewer's anticipation of the fire chief's beloved new car getting demolished in one way or another before the last frame. In poor taste today is the fat young woman who is so desperate for a boyfriend she asks Curly to be so inclined, which he definitely is not. Similarly, in "Flat Foot Stooges" the very realistic crosscutting to two characters unconscious in a burning room tends to take away some of the comedy as an entire town tries to get the ancient fire engine to a fire that happens to be back in the firehouse. The fact that the fire was caused by a duck laying an explosive egg after pecking at gunpowder does help to lighten the situation. "Three Pests in a Mess" (1945, #83) is one of those two-reel films in which the second sequence is only loosely connected to the first. When some crooks think the Stooges are lottery winners, events lead to Curly's shooting a mannequin, which the Stooges attempt to bury in a graveyard as three men in spooky costumes stalk them. A wonderful sight gag has a terrified Larry actually slide under a closed door. (The VHS box tells you how it was done.) --Frank Behrens

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