Review: Love at First Bite (1950)

>> Monday, April 16, 2007

USA/B&W-16m./Dir: Jules White/Wr: Felix Adler /Cast: Moe Howard (Moe), Larry Fine (Larry), Shemp Howard (Shemp), Christine McIntyre (Katrina), Yvette Reynard (Fifi), Marie Monteil (Maria)

The Three Stooges used alcohol as a plot device in a handful of their 190 Columbia short subjects--delivering barrels of beer, tending bar, and even fermenting their own brew. However, there were only a few precious moments in which the boys appeared in a state of dizzy drunkenness. The 1950 two-reeler Love at First Bite (not to be confused with the George Hamilton Dracula spoof) is a notable example, presenting the Stooges at their most stewed.

As the short begins, Moe, Larry, and Shemp are merrily decorating their apartment in preparation for a visit from their brides to be. After a series of brief flashbacks in which each Stooge explains how he met his fiancĂ©e (it seems a girl can’t resist a man in uniform, even a Stooge), the boys decide to drink a toast to their upcoming nuptials. Unfortunately, Stooges do not hold their liquor well, and within seconds the boys are fully plotzed and itching for a fight. This sets in motion a seltzer duel between Moe and Shemp; and when Shemp passes out, Moe mistakenly believes he’s killed him. Rather than mourn the passing of their pal, Moe and Larry stick Shemp’s feet in a tub of cement with plans to sink his body in the river.

As you can likely tell from the plot description, this is not one of the best Stooge shorts. It suffers from an anemic script and an over-reliance on violence to elicit laughs--a criticism that is true of most of the later comedies directed by Jules White. The only reason Love at First Bite works at all is due to Moe, Larry, and Shemp’s well-timed ad-libs and physical comedy skills. That said, the Stooges’ drunken antics are hilarious, and that alone makes this short a must-see.

Drinks Consumed--Beer, Wine, Old Panther (likely whiskey-100 proof)

Intoxicating Effects
--Hiccups, slurred speech, staggering, stumbling, brawling, passing out, memory blackouts, and hangover

Potent Quotables--LARRY: Oh, my head! What’d we drink?
MOE: I don’t know, varnish…

Video Availability-- On DVD as part of The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 6: 1949-1951 (Sony)

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Shemp has to stay stewed in order to see Carrie, the imaginary canary with whom he is in love, in the worst Stooge short ever made, Cuckoo on a Choo Choo (1952). You’ll have to stay stewed in order to watch it.

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Anonymous April 20, 2007 at 12:22 PM  

It amazed me how the Stooges (and Vernon Dent) were usually matched up with such beautiful women.

Your right though... a pretty weak Stooge short.

Anonymous December 4, 2007 at 2:43 AM  

A pretty good off beat short by the boys. It must be hard to play someone who is intoxicated - while sober. I agree they're adlibs and timing is great. Shemp was so good at times they used to just let the cameras roll he was that funny.

garv December 4, 2007 at 5:26 PM  

Moe had always been my favorite Stooge, but upon recent viewings of the shorts, Shemp has surpassed his brother. These days, when I watch the Stooges on TV, I'm disappointed when a Curly short airs rather than a Shemp short.

That said, I'd highly recommend the recent Sony DVD release, THE THREE STOOGES COLLECTION: 1934-1936. It's a lot of fun watching the shorts in the order they were released, and seeing how the act developed over time. I'm planning on picking up all of the chronological box sets as they come out.

Anonymous January 3, 2009 at 2:43 PM  

Christine McIntyre is the direct descendant of the veteran of the American Revolution.

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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