The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942)

US / 66 minutes / bw / Universal Dir: William Nigh Assoc Pr: Jack Bernhard Scr: Clarence Upson Young Story: Alex Gottlieb Cine: Woody Bredell Cast: Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Anne Gwynne, Samuel S. Hinds, Mona Barrie, Shemp Howard, Paul Cavanagh, Edmund MacDonald, Mantan Moreland, John Gallaudet, William Gould, Leyland Hodgson, Matty Fain, Mary Gordon, Jan Wiley, Ray Corrigan.

A mysterious serial killer, nicknamed Dr. Rx because of the notes he leaves with his victims, is strangling criminals whom silver-tongued defense attorney Dudley Crispin (Hinds) has succeeded in getting acquitted. Crispin hires PI Jerry Church (Knowles) to protect his current client, manifestly guilty mobster Tony Zarini (Fain). However, Fain dies in the courtroom within moments of his acquittal, surrounded by friends and lawyers yet seemingly strangled like all the others.

Patric Knowles as Jerry.

Detective Captain Bill Hurd (MacDonald) of the NYPD is baffled by the case and wants Jerry to collaborate with the police investigation. Jerry’s brand-new wife, mystery writer Kit Logan Church (Gwynne), is less keen for him to continue, having Continue reading

Tricky Dicks (1953)

US / 16 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir & Pr: Jules White Scr: Felix Adler Cine: William E. Whitley Cast: Shemp, Larry, Moe, Benny Rubin, Connie Cezan, Ferris Taylor, Phil Arnold, Murray Alper, Suzanne Ridgeway. It is a truth universally acknowledged that, given the option between watching a Three Stooges movie and nailing his own head to the wall, your humble correspondent would ordinarily choose the latter. On the other hand, this effort is a supposed parody of the kind of crime movies that Hollywood was churning out at the time, many of which had fringe noir/noirish interest, so it falls within our remit here. And thus does duty triumph over inclination. A wall is spared.

Tricky Dicks - 1 Moe, Shemp & Larry try to browbeat ChopperMoe, Shemp and Larry try to browbeat Chopper (Phil Arnold).

The original Three Stooges were Shemp Howard, Moe Howard and Larry Fine. Shemp left to pursue a solo career in 1932 and was replaced by Jerome “Curly” Howard. During the 1940s, Curly suffered a series of strokes probably related to his chronic alcoholism; the most severe occurred during the filming of Half-Wits Holiday (1947), and thereafter—aside from a guest cameo role in Hold That Lion! (1947)—his screen career was over. Shemp returned to take his place, and it’s the Shemp, Moe and Larry lineup that we see here.

Larry seems a rather different comedian from the two Howards: there’s seemingly the potential for danger in his persona, as if his real calling might have been satire, not knockabout slapstick. He was also an accomplished violinist; on occasions when the Stooges are seen playing violins, Larry is the only one actually doing so.

Tricky Dicks - 3 Larry takes one for the teamLarry takes one for the team.

In Tricky Dicks the three are police detectives; the movie’s set entirely within the squadroom of their precinct house. Shemp brings in a sultry blonde pickpocket named Slick Chick (Cezan, who’s very funny and has something of a Bette Davis look). She not only promptly picks his pocket but comes out with the best line in the movie:

Shemp: Where were you born?
Slick Chick: In bed. I wanted to be near my mother.

The trio’s boss, Chief of Detectives B.A. Copper (Taylor), instructs them to drop everything to seek the killer of Slug McGurk. They haul up Continue reading