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Fuelin' Around

Entry updated 9 September 2022. Tagged: Film.

Short US film (1949). Columbia Pictures. Directed by Edward Bernds. Written by Elwood Ullman. Cast includes Vernon Dent, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, Christine McGuire, Jock Mahoney, Hans Schumm, Emil Sitka and Philip Van Zandt. 16 minutes. Black and white.

The Three Stooges (at the time Moe Howard, Fine, and Shemp Howard) are workers laying carpet in the house of Professor Sneed (Sitka), who is about to invent a miraculous new Rocket fuel, coveted by agents from the foreign country Anemia. Mistaking Larry for the professor and the other Stooges for his assistants, they kidnap the Stooges and take them to Anemia, where they are instructed to create the desired fuel. They somehow manage through haphazard steps to make a volatile fuel, but are confined to their quarters when the real Sneed and his daughter Hazel (McGuire) are discovered, taken to Anemia, and imprisoned. Fortunately, Hazel charms a guard (Mahoney) so they can surreptitiously obtain his Prison keys; and when Larry uses the fuel to burn a hole in the floor, they enter the cell from above and all of them escape. Wishing to use a jeep for their getaway, they find that its tank is empty, but the fuel is added and it works to propel the jeep away from their captors.

This film is of mild sf interest because of the miraculous qualities of the new rocket fuel, evidence that the new research into rocketry after World War Two had entered the public imagination as early as 1949, as well as widespread suspicion of foreigners with accents seeking to undermine America (though the accents here sound German). The film is weakened by its excessive violence, even by the standards of Three Stooges films, as adult viewers will realize that repeatedly hitting someone on the head with a hammer will have far more injurious effects than are depicted on the screen. This film was essentially remade with some new footage as Hot Stuff (1956), and the device of the Stooges accidentally concocting an effective rocket fuel was reused in their first feature film, Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959). [GW]

see also: Three Stooges Films.


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