Cinematic Cocktails: Panther Pilsner Beer

>> Saturday, April 11, 2009

In Beer Barrel Polecats (1946) we receive instruction on the art of home brewing from brewmeisters Moe, Larry, and Curly. Following (more or less) the recipe set forth in the manual “How to Make Panther Pilsner Beer by J. Panther Pilsner,” the Stooges share much of the recipe with the audience:

MOE (reading): In order to make ten gallons of beer, pour one can of hopes…
LARRY: Hops.
MOE: Hops… and a can of malt into a large crook…
LARRY: Crock.
MOE: Crock! Then fill crock with hot water.
CURLY: Hot water! Hotsy totsy!

Moe opens the malt and Larry opens the hops. Unfortunately, they put Curly in charge of the hot water, which results in Moe receiving a burned back as he continues reading the recipe: “Mix ingredients. Refer to page 27--Yow-wow-wowwww!”

After the boys mix the ingredients, Moe continues: “Put in three cakes of yeast.” He orders Larry to add the yeast, but Larry is called away to the phone. Consequently, Moe adds the yeast himself. When Moe is also drawn away to the phone, Larry returns to the brew and adds the three cakes of yeast as previously instructed. Curly also adds the yeast when Larry leaves the kitchen to grab the beer bottles. However, Curly doesn’t bother to first remove the paper wrapper from the cakes, and he throws the shopping bag into the crock for good measure. One assumes that there were additional steps to the recipe, but we’ll never know, because the Stooges were too distracted contending with the overflowing, yeasty mixture to continue reading the instructions.

One final note--After bottling the beer, be sure to keep the bottles far away from heat or an open flame, because Panther Pilsner Beer is highly explosive.

3 Stooges Beer Adult T-Shirt

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Review: Beer Barrel Polecats (1946)

>> Sunday, April 5, 2009

USA/B&W-15m./Dir: Jules White/Wr: Gilbert W. Pratt/Cast: Moe Howard (Moe), Larry Fine (Larry), Curly Howard (Curly), Vernon Dent (Warden)

The Three Stooges often recycled plotlines, gags, and archive footage while producing their 190 short subjects. However, fans of the 6-man trio can often identify a specific short based upon a single bit of business or line of dialogue. For example, die hard Stoogeaphiles would have little trouble naming the shorts associated with the phrases “Maha? Ah ha!” “Hold hands, you lovebirds,” or “We all put the yeast in.” The last classic quote originates from one of Curly’s final films with the team, Beer Barrel Polecats. Unfortunately, beyond that memorable line, the short has little to recommend it.

As the short begins, the Stooges have visited sixteen saloons and have been unable to find a single bottle of beer. Naturally, they decide to mix up their own home brew, and mix it up they do when each of the boys unknowingly adds the yeast to the concoction (Curly doesn’t even bother to unwrap the cakes of yeast, and he throws in the shopping bag as well). After Curly sells a bottle of the extra yeasty brew to a plainclothes detective, the boys end up in prison, where they get in even more hot water when it’s discovered that beer-crazy Curly smuggled in a keg under his coat (with the unlikely excuse that the bulge was a goiter). Forty years later, the Stooges are released from prison, but Moe and Larry make the guards take Curly back when he reveals that the first thing he plans to do is get his hands on a bottle of beer.

Beer Barrel Polecats was produced around the time that Curly suffered a series of minor strokes, and his illness is evident in his appearance and performance. He looks haggard and noticeably thinner, his timing is slower, and he doesn’t quite sound like the character that we know and love (his tone of voice fluctuates between being too high or too low). Despite his poor health, Curly gives a passable performance, and Larry picks up much of the slack by taking more than his normal share of physical abuse. Consequently, the newly filmed scenes play better than one would expect.

What really hurts Beer Barrel Polecats is that the second half of the film is made up almost entirely of excerpts from the previous Stooge shorts, In the Sweet Pie and Pie (1941) and So Long Mr. Chumps (1941). Columbia’s shorts department had previously reused footage as a cost-cutting measure, so it made sense to employ the practice on Beer Barrel Polecats to give the ailing Curly a break from filming. However, the excerpted prison footage, filmed five years earlier with a heavier and healthier Curly, only helped to emphasize Curly’s illness in the new segments. What’s more, the old scenes were inserted so sloppily into the story that it ceased to make any sense. First the boys lament that they are about to be hung (In the Sweet Pie and Pie), which seems a very harsh sentence for smuggling a keg into jail. Then, with no explanation, their prison numbers change (So Long Mr. Chumps), and they are looking for Prisoner #41144 with plans to bust him out. Finally, in newly filmed footage, the boys are released from jail, with no mention of their prior death sentence.

Beer Barrel Polecats contains a few enjoyable moments during the beer-making scenes. However, Curly’s poor health and the slapdash use of archive footage spoil this brew.

P.S.--The other quotes mentioned in the review above come from Three Little Pirates (“Maha? Ah hah!”) and Brideless Groom (“Hold hands, you lovebirds.”), both much better shorts than Beer Barrel Polecats.

Drinks Consumed--Panther Pilsner Beer (consumed off-screen)

Intoxicating Effects--Jail time

Potent Quotables--CURLY: That’s it, the last one--one hundred and eighty-five bottles of beer!
MOE: We ain’t gonna run short of beer! Look at those bottles of beer! Hundreds of bottles of beer! Beer to swim in, beer to bathe in… We can wash our clothes in beer!
LARRY: We got beer galore!

Video Availability-- On DVD as part of The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 5 (1946 - 1948).

Similarly Sauced Cinema--The Stooges try bootlegging imitation scotch in their first booze-centric short, Pardon My Scotch (1935).

The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 5 (1946 - 1948)

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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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