In this satire of the Nazis the stooges are paperhangers in the country of Moronica. When evil cabinet ministers overthrow the king, they decide to make Moe the new ruler as he'll be stupid... See full summary »
In this satire of the Nazis the stooges are paperhangers in the country of Moronica. When evil cabinet ministers overthrow the king, they decide to make Moe the new ruler as he'll be stupid enough to follow their orders. Moe becomes Dictator, Curly is a Field Marshal and Larry becomes Minister of propaganda. After successfully preventing a female spy from committing mayhem, the boys are run out of office by a mob and eaten by lions. Written by
Mitch Shapiro <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A billiards 8-ball was used as a fortune telling device in the scene with the female spy, Mattie Herring. This predates by ten years the popular toy fortune telling device, "The Magic Eight Ball", first marketed by Alabe Crafts Company in 1950. See more »
What can be said about The Three Stooges besides the fact that they're one of the funniest and most innovative comedy groups in film history? While their schtick is undoubtedly tame and inoffensive by today's standards, the incredible amount of physical acting, slapstick, and quick-wit that plagued each one of the group's shorts still stands the test of time as some of the most original and lawless humor that there is out there.
It's fun to go back and revisit some of the more controversial shorts the trio did, one of them being "You Nazty Spy!," released in the early part of 1940 and attempting to satirize World War II, the Nazi Party, and the Third Reich. The short infuses satire into the slapstick (maybe we should bill it "slaptire") as it follows the land of Moronica, a country in dyer need of leadership as discussed by its three current cabinet members. They enlist in the help of three half-wits, Moe Hailstone, Curly Gallstone, and Larry Pebble (I suppose Kidneystone was on an international business trip). Immediately, Moe is instated as the leader, assuming the Adolf Hitler role, with Curly and Larry by his side, portraying the likes of Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels, respectively.
Scene after scene shows the leaders' incompetence but how empty promises and a blissfully ignorant public that is willing to blindly accept anything spitballed at them by the Moronica government keep them in power. A key scene depicting conformity and blind following comes early, where Moe, Curly, and Larry stand out on a balcony and dish out rules and ideas for the government. Alongside Moe, who is dishing out the madness, is Larry, holding up cue-cards for the public (structured by archive footage) that insist the audience applaud, cheer, or even hiss. The scene is a bold iteration for how conformity and blindness make up key traits of most of the public.
"You Nazty Spy!" is as satirical and thought-provoking as it is substantial and hilarious, featuring Moe Howard in an underrated performance that clearly channels on the likes of Adolf Hitler. Howard gives a thoroughly impressive performance; one that has unfortunately been shadowed, with Charlie Chaplin's performance in The Great Dictator (which came out later) getting most of the love. This is a bit upsetting, as Howard achieves rare comic ability of being uniquely funny but also potent with his satire of Hitler. Assisted as usual by the likes of his acting partners Larry Fine and Curly Howard, Howard's role in "You Nazty Spy!" turns out to be one of the essential reasons why the short is so successful.
World War II satire/propaganda wasn't uncommon; even Disney, the company you expect to remain squeaky-clean during this time, is guilty of churning out animated shorts criticizing or lampooning the Nazi Party and the communist lifestyle. Even with lofty ideas and criticisms, director Jules White and writers Felix Adler and Clyde Bruckman still keep the short at a nicely safe and controlled level, as well as the short being helped by the likes of its Stooge cast, who never cease to infuse their own trademark comedy into any kind of scenario. In the long line of World War II comedy skits, this one ranks considerably high and one of the smarter critiques, which comes as surprising given the comedy group's territory.
Starring: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard. Directed by: Jules White.
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