movie review of Hula-La-La (1951) starring the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard), Emil Sitka, Kenneth MacDonald, Jean Willes
Synopsis of Hula-La-La
In Hula-La-La studio boss Emil Sitka has bought the tropical island of Rarabonga, to film the native dances. But the natives don’t dance! So he sends studio employees Moe, Larry and Shemp to teach them. Unfortunately, while the natives can’t dance, they can shrink heads! And Stooges villain Kenneth MacDonald as the tribe’s witch doctor wants to add them to his personal collection!
Review of Hula-La-La
I recently saw Hula-La-La for the first time in many years, and I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed it. There were many funny parts to the movie, including dance master Shemp trying to show the movie studio’s showgirls the “correct” way to dance. The first half of the film has a hilarious send-up of the studio executives, with Emil Sitka playing the head of the studio who’s constantly surrounded by three sycophants. Including one whose job it is to keep a chair behind him at all times. And failing at a comedic moment. Nonetheless, he succeeds in sending Moe, Larry, and Shemp off to Rarabonga so that they can teach the natives there to dance.
On the island
Once there, the Three Stooges are swiftly captured by the natives, and introduced to the tribe’s witch doctor, played by Three Stooges regular Kenneth MacDonald, who delivers a nice performance as the smooth-talking headhunter. He plans to wine and dine the Stooges before taking their heads the following morning. And after a brief scene where two of the female natives admire Moe and Larry’s heads for their private collections … The king’s daughter Luana (Jean Willes) recruits their help to rescue her boyfriend from the witch doctor. And to keep her from being forced to marry the witch doctor as well. With her help, the Stooges manage to escape, and along the way find a box of grenades left over from World War IIâguarded by a four-armed idol.
Soon, Shemp is hiding under a couch in Luana’s hut, when the witch doctor comes in to talk with her. While a lizard wanders in and starts crawling on Shemp’s leg, causing him (and Luana) to bounce up and down. To add injury to insult, the lizard leaves and a small crocodile takes his place, and poor Shemp is soon exposed. Meanwhile, Moe is trying to take the box of grenades away from the four-armed idol, in a very funny slapstick scene with the idol doing the slapping. It’s a very funny scene, especially when Moe tries to get Larry to get the box. And Larry has no problem (at first, anyway).
The Three Stooges are soon recaptured, and Shemp (“the beautiful one”) is about to lose his head. Until Moe goads the witch doctor into proving his strength by cutting through his “puny” box … Filled with hand grenades! Soon the witch doctor has “gone to pieces”, and the short film ends with the Three Stooges giving the natives their first dance lesson.
I truly enjoyed Hula-La-La, and rate it 4 clowns out of 5. It’s available on DVD as part of The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 6: 1949-1951.
Funny movie quotes from Hula-La-La
Sign: B.O. Pictures Corp
Larry (Larry Fine): I was carried away!
Moe (Moe Howard): Pay attention, or you will be carried away!
Moe (Moe Howard): These girls have their ondules mixed up with their pirouettes, and they have their fortissimos tangled up with their allegrettos.
Shemp (Shemp Howard): But what’s wrong with their dancin’?
Shemp (Shemp Howard): I wanna keep my head! I’ve had it ever since I was a little child.
Witchdoctor (Kenneth MacDonald): I am Varanu, witch doctor of this tribe.
Larry (Larry Fine): What’s cookin’, Doc?
Moe (Moe Howard): Shaddup, Don’t give him any ideas.
Larry (Larry Fine): Where do you get these heads?
Witchdoctor (Kenneth MacDonald): My warriors find them in the jungle.
Moe (Moe Howard): Oh, sort of finders keepers.
Shemp (Shemp Howard): Yeah, tails you win, heads they lose!
Luana: The witch doctor is a bad man.
Shemp (Shemp Howard): You can say that again.
Luana: The witch doctor is a bad man.
Moe (Moe Howard): You know, for an imbecile, you’ve got some brains.
Larry (Larry Fine): [bows his head] Are they showing?
Moe (Moe Howard): [slaps his head] Now now!
Moe (Moe Howard): [surrounded by natives with spears] Do you see his point?
Larry (Larry Fine): No, but I feel it!
Witchdoctor (Kenneth MacDonald): Why, you impertinent swine!
Moe (Moe Howard): Flattery will get you nowhere.
Shemp (Shemp Howard): How do you say “beat it” in your native tongue?
Shemp (Shemp Howard): Ungow and make it snappy!
Luana: My father wants to know where did Varanu go?
Moe (Moe Howard): Well, you tell him something unexpected came up, so he went to pieces.
Trivia for Hula-La-La
- This was the only Stooge short directed by producer Hugh McCollum.
- The standard “Three Blind Mice” theme is replaced during the end titles with a hula composition entitled “Lu-Lu.”
Cast of characters
- Shemp Howard … Shemp
- Larry Fine … Larry
- Moe Howard … Moe
- Jean Willes (A Snitch in Time) … Luana
- Kenneth MacDonald (Three Dark Horses) … Varanu, Witch Doctor
- Emil Sitka (Three Hams on Rye) … Mr. Baines
- Joy Windsor … Kiwana
- Lei Aloha … Four-armed Idol
- Heinie Conklin (Spook Louder) … King
- Maxine Doviat (Pat and Mike) … Native Girl
- Ralph Volkie (4 for Texas) … Native Henchman