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|Index||15 reviews in total|
If you are a Stooges fan, like me, you should appreciate anything that they have done, even if it's something as corny as this feature. It could've been planned a lot better and give the boys better material to work with. I would've rather seen them in a comedy/mystery instead of a comedy/western/musical. Why the music ? At least though, they did get top billing- sort of, but why not use Moe's real name. The theater going audience knew who he was. But they used Larry and Curly's real names. Whatever. But just a few correction to the Reviewer before me, this was NOT the only feature with Curly and the short with the similar name is Rockin "THRU" the Rockies as opposed to "IN" the Rockies. The other features with Curly are pretty good and are: TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM, where they are not the stars, but do get a lot of screen time. Swing Parade of 1946, The Captain Hates the Sea, Turn Back the Clock, Fugitive Lovers, Myrt & Marge, Start Cheering, My Sister Eileen (cameo). They may not have gotten top billing, but they were in them. There might be others, but I think I've proven my point. But like all Stooges fans, even the worst of Stooge films are the most sought after because of their rarity and not much late-night TV play. We can only hope to see them via the "collectors underground". So if you get a chance to see ROCKIN' IN THE ROCKIES, appreciate it - if not for the content but for the Stooges commitment & contribution to the movie industry !
I saw this film on TCM with a slightly different attitude. I recently viewed a DVD set called "SHOWTIME USA;" this was a compendium of circa 1950 low budget musicals from Lippert Productions. ROCKIES, though a Columbia film, share some of the same musical cast seen in the later Lippert movies (including a subliminal Snub Pollard appearance) and it's the musical element, so snidely dismissed here, that I find the most worthwhile! My God, you have Spade Cooley, the Hoosier Hotshots, the charming Mary Beth Hughes, etc. So even if it's musically not to your taste, it's still a valuable thing to have on film. For Stooge-centrics there's obviously way better Stooge stuff elsewhere, but this film definitely has its own merits.
It was said of the Three Stooges that they stuck to shorts because they
couldn't carry a feature length film. Now with a 70+ minute length,
Rockin' in the Rockies barely qualifies as a feature film. Still it
might have been interesting if they had left the Stooges on their own
out in the wild west.
Moe plays a character named Shorty Williams who lives, maybe a better word is mooches, off cousin Jay Kirby at his ranch. He's got a cash flow problem, needing some capital to go prospecting which is his first love. In come Larry and Curly who he manages to bilk out of their funds and makes them partners.
Before long a couple of stranded show girls, Mary Beth Hughes and Gladys Blake, and a quartet of cowboys who'd rather be on Broadway all get in on the scheme. Add to that a traveling Broadway talent agent played by Tim Ryan who's come west to get away from auditions and you've pretty much got Rockin' in the Rockies.
The Stooges do have their moments, especially pretending to be exterminators to try and get Tim Ryan to stay at the ranch, but I think Harry Cohn made a mistake in not letting them have more of the story. This might have led to feature films for them.
Still the film is to treasured by Three Stooges fans everywhere of every age. Watch the film and get in touch with your inner Stooge.
Moe Howard actually plays a non-stooge: "Shorty" Williams, a ranch
foreman, but one who really wants to be a prospector.
He does a good job, too.
This movie is a must for Stooges fans, if only because it is not typical, but it is so unusual it's a must for any movie fan.
Besides, Mary Beth Hughes is in it. Someone with whom I was not familiar, Gladys Blake, but whose lovely legs make her very watchable, played her performing partner, Betty. She didn't act long, but had many gigs.
Most of the plot is to give excuses for musical numbers, and some of the numbers are pretty good, especially "Wahoo." Though Ken Trietsch was a guest on a TV show I directed, I hadn't realized the Hoosier Hotshots had been so active in movies. They actually had a lot of talent, as both musicians and actors. This film was a revelation.
Some of the alleged comedy was done poorly, and can't be called good slapstick. Probably the director should be blamed.
Still, this is a lot of fun, is a must for Stooges fans, a must for movie historians, a must for fans of Western Swing and for -- a term I think I coined -- Midwestern Swing, and a good time for anyone just looking for pleasant fun.
I gave this a four purely out of its historical context. It was
considered lost for many years until it popped up out of the blue on
Showtime in the early nineties.
Moe is the straight man and Larry and Curly act as a duo. Spade Cooley has a couple of numbers. I guess it had something to do with working on a ranch. I'm not quite sure because the plot was so minimal nothing really sticks in my memory. I vaguely remember it being a western musical comedy. Even the Stooge's seem to be going through the motions. Overall there's nothing much really to recommend here.
If you're not a Stooge fan then don't bother. If you are a Stooge fan, then stick with the shorts.
The Three Stooges in a feature length western comedy-musical? Perhaps
"Rockin' in the Rockies" was meant to combine the Stooges comedy short
with the western musical, in a matinée; if so, this was a pleasant way
to break up a Saturday afternoon. Jay Kirby (as Rusty) is a handsome
young hero; and, Mary Beth Hughes (as the blonde June) and Gladys Blake
(as the brunette Betty) are pretty women. The Hoosier Hotshots are a
harmonious group; their songs are quite tuneful; however, this is the
1940s, not the 1950s, so the film doesn't exactly "rock". There are a
few laughs; but the Stooges' brand of humor is more subdued than usual.
The talking horse is also underutilized.
**** Rockin' in the Rockies (4/17/45) Vernon Keays ~ Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Mary Beth Hughes
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By 1945 the Three Stooges had a successful formula: they unwittingly
saved the day, solved someone else's problem, or rescued damsels in
distress. Along the way they were usually beaten up by the bad guys,
abused by ugly women, and inadvertently caused all kinds of mayhem. Moe
was the stubborn, violent leader, Larry played the straight man, and
Curly was the clown. The formula didn't vary too much, and many of
their 1930s and 1940s short subjects were outrageously funny.
"Rockin in the Rockies" doesn't use the Stooges formula. Moe appears as a straight man, with Larry and Curly as a team. It just doesn't work very well. The scene is a western ranch somewhere, with lots of musical acts thrown in. There's very little Stooges-type humor in the film, and the boys just don't have their usual dynamic energy. Larry in particular looks way out of place in his role.
I suppose a big fan of the Stooges would enjoy this movie just for historical purposes, but others may be really disappointed. The film's not nearly as bad as "Snow White and the Three Stooges", but then almost no films are that bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In what essentially seems to be an extended version of a Three Stooges
short, the three nuts work at Moe's cousin Jay Kirby's ranch. Actually,
they disturb the peace more than they work, and when word gets out that
a Broadway producer (Tim Ryan) is in the area on vacation, practically
everybody who lives in the area is on his trail, determined to get an
audition. Among them are singers Mary Beth Hughes (the pretty one) and
Gladys Blake (the funny one) who end up in Kirby's ranch thanks to the
machinations of the Stooges (tossing out his stuff which they consider
junk!), creating even more chaos. Then, there's a visiting miner who is
accused of being a rustler, as well as an instrumental group (The
Hoosier Hotshots) who are just as wacky as the stooges.
Innocuous fun, this has moments of comedy that totally land, and then others that totally thud. The Three Stooges were much funnier when they were zanies on their own rather than involved in the romantic issues of others forced to deal with them. The songs are standard, and thus not memorable, and the specialties are all pretty silly. Veteran silent comic Snub Pollard has an amusing cameo as a barroom drunk.
Conventional wisdom has it that while The Three Stooges were tops in short subjects, they couldn't carry a feature film. "Rockin' in the Rockies" should not be entered into evidence one way or the other, because the truth is Atlas couldn't have carried this thing. It's an oleo of popular Western music acts, some comedic (occasionally intentionally) and Stooge burlesque routines, all linked together with cornball situations, designed to try and make people forget there was a war going on for an hour or so. Except for one scene in which they pretend to be termite exterminators, the Stooges don't even act as a trio here. Moe (with normal haircut) plays a character named Shorty, and serves as comic relief for the Western scenes, while Larry and Curly act as a team. Oddly, though, the don't act like the Larry and Curly we know from the shorts. Larry takes on Moe's traditional role while Curly is subdued (and clearly ailing), and almost plays it British! One can only assume that the script was not written with them in mind. (Their gag appearance in 1942's "My Sister Eileen" had been a last minute addition, so maybe the same thing happened here.) If only Columbia had allowed the people from their short subject unit to write and maybe even direct ("Rockin'"s director Vernon Keays can't even make his shots match) there might have been some energy to it. As it is, the film is pretty much a long hour and seven minutes of bad acting, so-so music, and unfunny comedy.
If you are looking for a comedy that has a substantial plot, this one
If you are looking for a movie that features the Three Stooges doing their usual performance and patter, this one isn't it.
Rockin' In the Rockies is a typical Columbia House movie that showcases Columbia Records musical talent and offers a little bit of a plot as an excuse. In what can be described as a glorified MTV video, Moe Howard plays a would-be prospector (more of a con artist) who partners with Larry and Curly, two vagrants who wander into town and need jobs before the Sheriff throws them into jail. Enter Mary Beth Hughes and Gladys Blake as two failed saloon singers determined to leave the west for New York. Moe falls for Mary Beth and invites the girls back to the ranch. The singing group, the Hoosier Hotshots, play ranch hands and the Cappy Barra Boys and Spade Cooley make appearances as well.
Although the Three Stooges were an odd choice for casting (apparently Cary Grant wasn't available), Moe does a surprisingly good job as a character actor in this movie. Mary Beth Hughes is his primary comic foil, adding a hint of "war between the sexes" element to what is pretty much one of Columbia Picture's signature "screwball comedies." The movie will disappoint Stooge fans who expect the familiar routines and writing of either Felix Adler or Jules White, and those who despise country-western music will faint, but overall the movie qualifies as a pleasant serving of chewing gum for the mind.
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