Men in Black (1934 film)

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Men in Black
Meninblack34.jpg
The Stooges were not professionally known as "The Three Stooges" when the film was released as they were billed by their individual names
Directed by Raymond McCarey
Produced by Jules White
Written by Felix Adler
Starring Moe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Dell Henderson
Billy Gilbert
Bud Jamison
Jeannie Roberts
'Little Billy' Rhodes
Ruth Hiatt
Cinematography Benjamin Kline
Edited by James Sweeney
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • September 28, 1934 (1934-09-28)
Running time
18' 02"
Country United States
Language English

Men in Black is the third short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.

Plot[edit]

The trio play medical school graduates whose only credentials are that they had the highest temperatures in their class. They are hired as doctors at the "Los Arms Hospital" only because they have been in their senior class for too many years. The new graduates at the hospital are warned by the superintendent that all three of them (the Stooges) are "not overly bright," but it is rumored that their identities will be concealed as long as they promise to devote their lives to "the glorious cause of duty and humanity", which prompts the three to step forward and thank him profusely for not being able to let their identities be known. The superintendent has told the Stooges to rush and answer the loudspeaker whenever their names are called. The short consists of a series of skits in which the Stooges go from one patient to the next, making mistakes ranging from drinking a patient's medicine to sewing their tools inside a man on the operating table.

Each time the Stooges rush and answer the loudspeaker, a different scenario takes place:

1st - They rush to answer using a three-person bike. When they arrive they respond by "calling all cars". Several people appear in the hallway. After taking a woman's temperature they dismiss her and clear the area.

2nd - The loudspeaker orders them to various rooms to check on patients.

3rd - They report to the superintendent with their results.

4th - They rush to answer riding a horse, where they end up greeting a telegram delivery man. The man reveals that the telgram is from Nellie (a love interest of all three men) who says she'll marry the man who does the greatest thing for "duty and humanity". They bet him "double or nothing" for his fee on a coin toss which they win by cheating. Afterwards they help observe a "comatose" patient.

5th - They report back to the supervisor who orders them to check on a dangerous patient. They rush to his room using mini-race cars. The patient is mentally unstable and makes outlandish claims such as rats appearing through a hole in his shirt. The trio prepares medicine but drink it themselves. The patient then claims he sees a "giant green canary". Moe scoffs at this but a green canary soon enters the room frightening everyone.

6th - After dealing with the dangerous patient, the superintendent tells them that 20 men have been injured in an accident at the oil well and they need the uranium out of the safe to save their lives. However, he accidentally swallowed the combination. The Stooges perform an operation on the reluctant superintendent and retrieve the combination. But they mistakenly leave their tools inside him.

7th - They are finally fed up with the loudspeaker and smash it to pieces. They finally pull out guns and destroy the continually still-working part of the loudspeaker. The short ends with the trio raises their gun and proudly proclaiming: "For duty and humanity!"

Every time the stooges leave the superintendent's office, Curly accidentally ends up breaking the glass door to his office. On their final entry a maintenance worker (having gotten tired of constantly replacing it) intentionally breaks the door for them.

Production and significance[edit]

Filming for Men in Black took place from August 28 to September 1, 1934.[1]

The film contains the first appearance of many gags used in later shorts. For instance, this is the first of several Stooge shorts in which one of the three Stooges charges into or out of an office with a door that has a large plate-glass window, slamming the door behind them and causing the plate glass in the door to shatter. It is also the first of many shorts where the Stooges make a liquid concoction of something (in this case, medicine) by randomly pouring together various liquids with gibberish names (a similar gag is sometimes used where the Stooges pass each other various tools with nonsensical names while operating). The Stooges have several off-the-wall dialogues with nurses, particularly the "hiccuping nurse" played by Jeanie Roberts, who affects a girlish Betty Boop-like voice. As well, this is the first short which shows the Stooges repeatedly engage in a huddle while planning something out.

Finally, this short contains the famous recurring dispatcher line "Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard." In this short, the three doctors get so sick and tired of the repeated calls that they decided to tear down the dispatcher's call board and, when a small transmitter appears on the floor, quivering and still repeating "Doctor Howard! Doctor Fine! Doctor Howard!", they all take out handguns and shoot it. The Stooges then lift a toast and repeat the film's catch-phrase: "For duty and humanity!"

Larry is about to "plug" Dr. Graves and "see if he's ripe!" in a colorized screen shot from Men in Black


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The film is a spoof on the Clark Gable and Myrna Loy 1934 movie Men in White, released earlier that year. The Stooges, in fact, wear mostly white outfits for this film. The short is also significant in that it was the only time that the trio would be nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Short Subject - Comedy".[2]

Men in Black also represents an early use of what has come to be described as hammerspace. The Stooges go to the storage closet to acquire modes of transportation to get them to their patients. They are seen riding a three-man bicycle, a horse, and then individual go-carts out of the closet. These items would not likely fit in the storage closet's space.

A colorized version of this film was released in 2004. It was part of the DVD collection. Goofs on the Loose.

This short was the basis for the "Hospital" option in the The Three Stooges video game.

The opening title music is a jazzy big band style melody that is unique to both Men in Black and the previous film, Punch Drunks.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pauley, Jim (2012). The Three Stooges Hollywood Filming Locations. Solana Beach, California: Santa Monica Press, LLC. p. 157. ISBN 9781595800701. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Glendale, California: Comedy III Productions, Inc. pp. 45–47. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4. 

External links[edit]