The Three Stooges

film 2 of 26

Woman Haters

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

Their debut! Let’s take a closer look at the first bunch of Three Stooges productions. I will now declare that I quite like Wikipedia, and am happy to paste in this link that will lead you to the best and most careful collections of their films.


Woman Haters is a novelty film, part of a sequence of Columbia shorts in which all of the dialogue was spoken in verse. You remember those, don’t you? In some ways this production is a little bit like RKO’s Flying Down to Rio, which was released in 1933. It featured a fourth and a fifth billed player, a slender and balding Broadway hoofer, and an actress then best known for playing a gold digging vulgarian. They made something of an impression, and weren’t billed fourth and fifth the next time around.

Similarly, this is more the suggestion of things to come, than that thing itself. The verse is pretty well written, by the way, and pretty well executed. Larry’s wife is especially good at it. But it’s a stunt, a strain, or at least an indication of uncertainty. With regard to the boys—an appellation usually applied to the sublime Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, which I here apply to the Stooges with love and gratitude—you sense some uncertainty going on behind the scenes. What are we going to do with these guys?

The effect they have when they bust in on that meeting is a good suggestion of how challenging the question is. They’re practically forces of nature! The Id let loose, pure aggression, for its own sake. This situation might have been similar to when the Marx Brothers (diminutive, uncontainable Jews too) went to MGM. It wasn’t just a matter of what should we do, but what have we gotten ourselves into? How do we contain them?

Maybe this unmotivated misogyny seemed like a good idea at the time. I wonder. It seems offensive. It is offensive. But I’ve never minded how often these guys hit each other. Could this kind of conversation ever have been intended similarly? We should decry when appropriate, but sometimes there are other factors operating.

Curly does a very silly walk in the train corridor, and there’s also a really nice tracking shot there. That’s Larry in curlers, of course. I may say this a few times, coming up. Larry has the greatest hair in film, perhaps in world history. Giving those curlers to Curly is bordering on strokes of genius. At one point someone bites someone else’s toe, because it is there. This is a good cause to which these stalwarts are about do dedicate themselves, most faithfully. Excellent crashing close.