Fuelin’ Around – starring the Three Stooges – Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard (1949)
Fuelin’ Around begins with spies (led by Captain Rourke, played by Philip Van Zandt) outside of the house of Professor Sneed (Emil Sitka), waiting for the right time to kidnap him for his new rocket fuel formula. The Professor is easily recognized by “his magnificent head of hair” — unfortunately, they spies have been watching Larry, who along with Moe and Curly are only there to install new carpeting in the Professor’s house.
The normal destructive slapstick occurs, with Larry nearly cutting off Moe’s toes, and the Professor’s daughter (Christine McIntyre) opening a door and bumping into Shemp, having him swallow carpet tacks. And the carpeting slapstick continues, with Larry and Shemp unintentionally assaulting Moe as he tries to flatten out a wrinkle under the carpet. And eventually, the mayhem comes to an end as the Three Stooges leave. Just in time for the spies to kidnap “the Professor and his two assistants” — and take them to the far-off country of Anemia.
In Anemia, the General (Vernon Dent) greets Captain Rourke, and congratulates him on a job well done. In the meantime, trying to prevent the real Professor from being kidnapped, the Three Stooges are busy in their prison laboratory, mixing chemicals wildly, pretending to create “rocket fuel”. Captain Rourke appears just in time for the pressurized formula to pop its’ cork straight into his eye, but he’s willing to forgive once the Stooges announce that the “formula” is complete.
One of my favorite moments in the film is their giving him “the formula” — only to have the wind taken out of Captain Rourke’s sails when the General enters, with the real Professor Sneed and his daughter in tow. Soon, the Professor and his daughter are taken to the dungeon, Captain Rourke is demoted to private, and the Stooges are pacing frantically (one of the funniest parts of the movie, in fact).
In the dungeon directly below the Stooges, in a very funny bit, Christine McIntyre flirts with the handsome young guard while the Professor steals his keys to the cell — another excellent comedy bit. Christine begins tapping on the ceiling in Morse code, signaling the Stooges — who decide to use the rocket fuel burn a hole in the floor and join them. Just as they’re making their way down, the General and his guard burst in with a comical, rubbery tug of war over Shemp with the Stooges eventually winning, and making their escape in a stolen jeep — powered by the Three Stooges’ rocket fuel, spitting sparks and leaving the soldiers in their underwear.
Fuelin’ Around is a very funny short film, and I recommend it — it’s on DVD as part of The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 6: 1949-1951
Editorial review of Fuelin’ Around starring The Three Stooges courtesy of Amazon.com
“Fuelin’ Around” (1949, number 116) starts with Larry’s resemblance to Albert Einstein — or at least a scientist (Emil Sitka) — which leads to him, Moe, and Shemp being kidnapped to a European castle, where they must produce rocket fuel or be shot. When the real scientist and his lovely daughter (Christine McIntyre) are brought in, an escape is planned, and some clever use is made of the “rubber dummy” as Shemp is being pulled up through an escape hole in the floor by the baddies and down by Moe and Larry from below. There is also some villainy from regulars Vernon Dent and Philip Van Zandt and good bumbling from Jacques O’Mahoney.
Funny movie quotes from Fuelin’ Around – the Three Stooges (1949)
[Moe extends a tape measure across the room, with Shemp holding the other end.]
Moe Howard: How many feet you got?
Shemp Howard: [counts both his feet] Two!
Larry Fine: What a joint! It reminds me of reform school.
[The General leaves the Anemia soldiers’ fortress.]
Moe Howard: This ain’t no reform school, it’s a theater!
Larry Fine: How do you know?
Moe Howard: [motions to the general] There goes the door man!
Larry Fine: Say, I beg your pardon, do you have any idea what we’re doin’?
Moe Howard: Now that you mention it, no.
Moe Howard: If they find out we’re only carpet layers, they’ll go back and grab the real Professor Sneed, and not only that, they’ll shoot us! So we gotta fool ’em, savvy?
Larry Fine: You’re right; it is our duty to posterior!
Moe Howard: Top of the morning to you, Captain!
Shemp Howard: And the rest of the day to myself!
Larry Fine: Say, did I give you carbolic acid? [aside] I’d love to!
[Professor Sneed’s daughter starts knocking on the dungeon ceiling/laboratory floor, getting the boys’ attention.]
Shemp Howard: [listening in] It’s a message!
Moe Howard: Yes?
Shemp Howard: In code!
Moe Howard: Yes yes? What does it say?
Shemp Howard: Knock-knock, knock-knock, knock-knock-‘
[Moe starts knocking Shemp’s head in that same succession.]
Moe Howard: You left one out. [bonk]
Moe Howard: (talking about Larry) You know, he’s the most intelligent imbecile I ever saw.
Shemp Howard: Hey, how about me?
Moe Howard: Oh, you’re much smarter. You’re just an imbecile
Trivia for Fuelin’ Around
- Fuelin’ Around was reworked in 1956 as Hot Stuff using stock footage.
- The title Fuelin’ Around is a pun on the expression “fooling around.”