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Bubble Trouble

Entry updated 6 December 2022. Tagged: Film.

Short US film (1953). Columbia Pictures. Directed by Jules White. Written by Felix Adler (story) and Jack White (screenplay). Cast includes Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, Florence Lake (uncredited), Christine McIntyre, Emil Sitka, and Victor Travis (uncredited). 17 minutes. Black and white.

This is a remake of All Gummed Up (1947), using much of the same footage but adding a new conclusion. Again, the Three Stooges (at the time, Fine, Moe Howard, and Shemp Howard) are working as pharmacists, but omitting the earlier film's introductory vignettes, this one begins with reused footage of landlord Amos Flint (Sitka) threatening to evict the Stooges from their store. He is accompanied by his elderly wife (Lake), who he is rejecting because she is aged and unattractive, but moved by her plight, the Stooges concoct a youth serum which transforms her into a beautiful young woman (McIntyre) (see Rejuvenation). After a retained sequence in which a cake prepared by McIntyre, mistakenly adorned by Shemp with bubble gum instead of marshmallows, causes them to blow bubbles when they eat some slices, Flint returns and, demanding the same treatment as his wife, becomes in this version not a child (as in the earlier film) but a gorilla (see Devolution). Enraged, he attacks the Stooges but is soon rendered unconscious by chloroform. Planning to exploit him by displaying a talking gorilla as an attraction, Moe and Larry, thinking it would be even more profitable to have a second talking gorilla, undertake to make Shemp take their concoction to be transformed in a similar fashion, and the film ends with Shemp apparently in the process of becoming a gorilla.

As in All Gummed Up and numerous other sf stories, a method of achieving rejuvenation, which initially seems effective, misfires by causing a man to regress, here into a gorilla (see Apes as Human), though the man retains human Intelligence and his ability to speak. Menacing gorillas are featured in many sf films of the era (see Horror in SF), including the Stooges' A Bird in the Head and Spooks!, and humans scientifically transformed into apes are also commonly observed. In this way as in many others, the Stooges are borrowing from the films of their era, reflecting not a genuine interest in sf but the constant quest for new ideas to animate their regularly produced shorts. It is also worth noting that the titles of both films reference the silly sequence involving bubble gum instead of the youth serum that brings the film into the realm of sf, indicating that the filmmakers regarded this aspect of the film as of secondary importance. [GW]

see also: Three Stooges Films.


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