Hokus Pokus (1949)

Article 4699 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-3-2014
Directed by Jules White
Featuring Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard
Country: USA
What it is: Three Stooges short

The Three Stooges are caring for an invalid neighbor, unaware that she is actually putting on an act to scam an insurance company. A magician known as “The Great Svengarlic” then discovers that the Stooges make ideal hypnotic test subjects.

This is a pretty good Shemp-era Three Stooges short. My favorite sequence is towards the beginning, when we are treated to the Stooges’ morning ritual, which includes a bizarrely synchronized shaving sequence; after all, only a Stooge would be stupid enough to let another Stooge shave him. The rest of the short is fairly ordinary. I did find myself thinking about Shemp and his work with the Stooges with this one. Now I like Shemp; I think he’s a good comic actor, and I enjoy watching him in action. But, unlike Curly, I don’t get the sense that he had a sharply defined and consistent character in his work with the group. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a lot of fun; I love his face-off with the insurance investigator here. But I don’t find myself thinking of individual Shemp trademark bits as I do with Curly, and that may be one of the reasons Curly remains the definitive third Stooge.

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