Hokus Pokus (1949 film)
|Directed by||Jules White|
|Produced by||Jules White|
|Written by||Felix Adler|
|Cinematography||Vincent J. Farrar|
|Edited by||Edwin H. Bryant|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Hokus Pokus is the 115th short film released by Columbia Pictures in 1949 starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). The comedians released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
The Stooges are three paperhangers who also look after invalid Mary (Mary Ainslee), who always uses a wheelchair. The seemingly helpless blonde, however, is trying to swindle her insurance company out of $25,000, as she is not handicapped in the least. While the Stooges are at work hanging posters, they are taken by one poster that advertises a great hypnotist, Svengarlic ("He'll steal your breath away!" the poster announces). The Stooges want the hypnotist to work his magic on Mary so that she can walk again, but Svengarlic is more interested in winning an audience by hypnotizing the Stooges. Under his spell, they walk out onto a flagpole high on a building and dance. But a distracted bicyclist knocks Svengarlic over and the Stooges are abruptly awakened. They immediately panic when they see where they are, then the flagpole breaks, sending them flying through an open window. The boys land directly in the insurance office where Mary is about to be handed her check. Startled, she jumps out of her wheelchair, exposing her scheme.
Hokus Pokus was reworked in 1956 as Flagpole Jitters, using ample stock footage. In particular, the two films have different endings: Mary is a fraud here, whereas in the later picture she is actually paraplegic. In the remake Svengarlic is the fraud.
The Stooges make a reference to Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in which Shemp believes he has hypnotized Moe into thinking he is locked up in the infamous prison. The character name 'Svengarlic' is a parody of 'Svengali,' the name of a fictional character in George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby.