11/25/07

RVOD003 Swing Parade

(1946, Comedy/Musical, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson

The scene is dragging. Hit Curly again!

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

A songwriter and a singer open a nightclub while they fall in love.

Summary:

Mike lords his quick wit and basic motor skills over the Stooges.Pretty much every scene falls into of three categories:

1) Plot: Half the film relates the story, as follows. Newly graduated from the conservatory of music, Carol Laurence searches for a job as a singer, but finds none. Eventually evicted from her apartment for failure to pay rent, she gives up and seeks employment as a secretary with Mr. Daniel Warren Sr. Her first task is to deliver eviction papers to his wayward son. Said son is Danny Warren Jr., a songwriter in the process of opening a nightclub, two occupations of which Mr. Warren Sr. does not approve.

The provocatively named Moose guards the nightclub door, stationed there specifically to prevent deliverers of eviction notices. The logic of this appears to be: “Even though we know about the eviction, they can’t force us out if we don’t let them deliver the notice.” (This wouldn’t fly nowadays. Would it have worked in 1946? Who knows?) Carol sneaks through the back door with the help of kitchen boys Larry, Curly, and Moe. Danny Warren Jr. sees her and is instantly smitten. He gives her an audition and offers her a job as a singer. She tears up the notice in secret and accepts.

Hmmm, there's something significantly undercutting the romantic tension in this scene.  I wonder what it is?Lots of unrelated stuff happens here, but eventually another of Mr. Warren Sr.’s minions makes it through and serves the notice, referencing the last girl sent to do it. Danny Jr. thinks Carol let the man in, and hurts her feelings. Fortunately, by this time a friend of the family has bullied Mr. Warren Sr. into reconciling with his son; he withdraws the eviction. Curly admits he’s the one who let the server in, and Danny professes his undying love for Carol in song.

2) Antics: The Three Stooges have been hired as kitchen boys in the new nightclub, under the watchful eye of the thick and vengeful Moose. They spend roughly a quarter of the film comically injuring themselves and each other as dishwashers, plumbers, and waiters.

3) Song and Dance: Another quarter or so of the film consists of the nightclub’s various acts, which include: a Jazz musician who urges us not to worry about our mules and later poses the musical question, “Why is your big head so hard?”; a lady singer in regalia so large as to render her completely immobile while she sings the slowest, most depressing songs of the set; and various dance pieces involving thin men in tuxedos twirling around underdressed women.

Thoughts:

The people of 1946 used a vastly different definition of the word 'swing'.Larry, Moe, and Curly make up the best part of this movie. Their expertly timed and choreographed routines add life to what would otherwise be a painfully dull and stupid film. The piano bed bit works well, and I liked the scene when they tried to fish a watch out of a drain, but my favorite routine comes near then end, when Moe tries to force roast beef on a customer who would rather eat turkey. The weakest element, by far, is the plot, which is contrived and poorly acted. The revue sections are competent enough, but not all that interesting to me. Cut both these sections out, and you’d be left with a hilarious Stooges short.

In my review of The Three Stooges in Color, I speculated that actual riffing wouldn’t mesh well with a Three Stooges film. I stand by that statement, as far as it goes, but Mike does riff the film proper in this one, and it does work reasonably well, mostly because the Stooges only appear briefly and at odd intervals. During the opening titles, Mike wonders, what exactly is a swing parade? “Is it when playground equipment manufacturers have conventions? Is it when wife-swappers drive a float down Main Street?” When the Stooges appear, peeking around a door with their faces in a row, Mike calls them, “A Mount Rushmore of stupid.” Later, when Moose views the damage they’ve caused and asks, “What are we going to do?” Mike responds, “Hire people who aren’t retarded maniacs.” The Stooges are a treat to watch, and Mike props up the rest of it as best he can. It’s worth a night’s entertainment.