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Grips, Grunts and Groans (1937)

Starring: Curly Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard
Written by: Herman Boxer (story), Searle Kramer (story), Clyde Bruckman
Directed by: Jack White

All the debate over what exactly was in the Undertaker's urn that allowed him to achieve superhuman power and withstand any punishment thrown at him may no longer be necessary: it very likely could have been "Wild Hyancith". You'll soon know what I mean.

In this highly prized Three Stooges short, Larry, Curly and Moe are nomads who find themselves stumbling into "The Hangover Gym" after being chased off a freight train that they were calling home. Luckily, the gym actually has use for the trio and offers them all jobs; unluckily, it's as sparring partners for a pro boxer. It quickly becomes clear that the Stooges are not exactly fighting savvy, but their antics do make them a friend: wrestling champ Ivan Bustoff (Harrison Greene).

Bustoff takes the failed workout partners out to lunch, where two crucial moments come to pass: Bustoff gets himself inebriated (with a big match coming up later that evening); and we learn that Curly goes wild when hit with the scent of a fragrance called "Wild Hyancith". This bit of information will become very important, as the Stooges soon realize that the now drunken Bustoff will be unable to compete in the match that evening (though being drunk didn't hurt him as much as the dumbbells with which the Stooges accidentally knocked him out). With the Stooges expecting payment in the form of winnings from a wager on Bustoff, it's time to get creative.

Owner of a handy resemblance to Bustoff, Curly puts on the wrestler's beard (not a beard like Bustoff's -- they actually shave off his beard and stick it on Curly's face) and poses as the champion grappler in the match that evening. To continue with the Undertaker analogy, Curly playing himself to be Ivan Bustoff goes over about as well as Brian Lee's turn as the Dead Man. Just as Curly is about to get his clock cleaned, Moe detects a certain aroma in the air ... you got it: Wild Hyancith. He takes it from a lady and ringside and slathers it on Curly, after which there's no stopping him. Curly knocks out his opponent, some spectators, even the other Stooges, before he's finally knocked cold himself by the airborne ring bell.

This classic short features every aspect of classically-timed slapstick you'd expect from the Stooges entering the world of wrestling. It's essentially a re-working of their boxing comedy Punch Drunks, a sort of thematic sequel done in the same fashion as Bunny Hugged.


Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and can be emailed at -- SLAM! Wrestling.