In the Sweet Pie and Pie (1941, No. 58 in the series) starts with a plot right out of The Yeomen of the Guard, in which three chiseling women, in order to claim an inheritance, marry the Stooges, who are condemned to be hanged the next day. The execution scene is a rare bit of black humor, as the event is treated like a sports event with a Bill Stern-type announcer. They are pardoned and the wives saved from the consequences by insisting they become high class. This leads to a dancing lesson from an earlier film and a good deal of what the title promises. Phoney Express (1943, No. 75) is a minor effort. Mistaken only briefly for marshals out in the Old West, the boys bungle their one assignment of guarding the town bank and have to find the missing money, which they do all too easily. The only sign of something new is a fully armed Curly hiding inside a stove with the money, which gets set on fire by the villain's cigar. The result is a superweapon spouting shots all over. But nothing is made of it except a fade-out and "The End." Using Curly as a bloodhound shows off his comedic talents, but it is all a bit degrading. In Playing the Ponies (1937, No. 26) we have a real animal as the star. After mismanaging a restaurant in which "chicken soup" means boiled water poured over a chicken and Larry tallies up a bill by seeing what still clings to the customer's clothing (a bit stolen from Charlie Chaplin), the boys swap it for a non-winning horse. The animal does react, however, to some pepperinos and it actually wins the race. For a change, the short ends happily with a wealthy trio sharing a victory dinner with the winner. --Frank Behrens
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