Hoi Polloi [1935]

"Hoi Polloi" (1935) is the 10th short made by the Three Stooges for Columbia and we still see the spelling "Curley" in the credits. It contains the hoary plot of two professors betting on whether training can improve upon heredity, one of them risking $3 million on making gentlemen of you-know-whom. Their training sessions might have been based on those in Pygmalion, while the chaos the Stooges cause at the high-class party is predictable. The ending, however, is most curious, with the high-society group taking up all the Curly mannerisms as a new fad. The slap count, according to Michael Flemming's The Three Stooges, an Illustrated History, is 48, Moe being particularly aggressive in this offering. "A Gem of a Jam" (1943, #76) concerns a wounded crook whose accomplices mistake the Stooges for doctors. The highlights of this entry are a plaster- covered Curly looking like the silent film monster Der Golem and the racially stereotyped but truly funny fright reactions of the black comedian Dudley Dickerson, who plays a night watchman. "Half-Shot Shooters" (1936, #14) manages some social commentary as the Stooges, recently discharged from the Army, cannot find food or a job. Having bidden a violent farewell to their commanding officer, they are tricked into re-enlisting and guess who their new C.O. turns out to be. Using a few vaudeville routines that would be repeated by Abbott & Costello in Buck Privates and several other World War II comedies, this film ends with the boys actually being killed. The Columbia transfers are as good as you can get. --Frank Behrens

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