2/24/09

RO78 Swing Parade (Three-Riffer Version)

(1946, Comedy/Musical, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

I’m an inveterate mule-worrier.

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:


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

Summary:

Eye-gouging ensues.[Summary recycled from the first time I reviewed this.]

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'.The Stooges are pretty much the only part of this movie worth watching. (Something I know I’ve said before. If it feels like I keep feeling like I’m repeating myself too much, it’s probably because lately I’ve had to review so many things twice.) Sadly the masters of physical comedy aren’t allowed enough screen time to keep my interest in the face of all that tepid romance and those boring musical acts. The only other element that even approaches them for entertainment value is the jazz band, whose songs are both animated and ludicrously strange. Give their pop-eyed lead singer an accordion instead of a saxophone, and he’d be the Weird Al of 1946.

The commentary has been extensively rewritten, mostly for the better. A sampling: When the Three Stooges peer around a wall, Bill says, “The last thing you see before you’re killed by a flying anvil.” Mike comments on a lady’s large, furry headgear; on her exit he says, “I have to take my hat in to be spayed.” As a dragging scene livens up with the introduction of the stooges, Kevin notes, “There's no circumstance that can't be made better by slapping Curly in the face.” Though not much can be done to save the romance scenes, the addition of the riffers makes a huge difference during the musical acts, which go from dreary to hilarious with comments about the strangely attired dancers, the soul-crushing despair of the immobile lady, and the extremely odd jazz. While Swing Parade isn’t among the best Rifftrax ever recorded, it’s certainly the best Stooge/Riffer combination.