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Space Ship Sappy

Entry updated 7 April 2020. Tagged: Film.

Short US film (1957). Columbia Pictures. Directed by Jules White. Written by Jack White. Cast included Doreen Woodbury, Benny Rubin, Marilyn Hanold, Lorinne Crawford, Harriet Tyler, Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Joe Besser. 16 minutes. Black and white.

The Three Stooges (at the time Howard, Fine and Besser), in need of work, are hired by Scientist A J Rimple (Rubin), though they are unaware he will be taking them on a Spaceship to Venus. There they are threatened by female cannibals but fortuitously escape due to the appearance of a Dinosaur, in footage borrowed from One Million B.C. (1940). When the scientist and his daughter (Woodbury) are accidentally rendered unconscious, the men ineptly try to launch the spaceship themselves and seem about to crash when it is revealed that the whole story is only a tall tale they related to a Liars' Club.

Because of the large numbers of Spacesuit Films that appeared in the 1950s, it was virtually inevitable that the Three Stooges would venture into space as well: here, in the short film Outer Space Jitters (1957), and in their first feature film, Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959). The fact that this short employs the familiar trope of a Venus inhabited entirely by women explains why they encounter very different versions of Venus in the other two films. The perceived need to present the story as a complete fiction (here and in Outer Space Jitters) conveys that the Three Stooges were moving into unfamiliar territory, though no such contrived conclusions are employed in their later feature-length science fiction films such as The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962). All comedic spacesuit films, including this one, implicitly make one point: outer space is a dangerous environment that requires highly trained astronauts, not bumbling amateurs, though dumb luck enables the incompetent protagonists of other films to survive; this film acknowledges that such stories are flatly unbelievable, perhaps the only message one can extract from it. [GW]


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