Today hasn’t left me a lot of time to watch or write anything, so it seems like a good time to bring out another classic Three Stooges short. 1949’s Malice in the Palace, directed and produced by Jules White, is another film from the Shemp era of the Three Stooges. In this short, the Stooges are restauranteurs “somewhere in the Orient”, in an unnamed quasi-Arabic nation. Their business is disrupted — and they in turn disrupt — by the arrival of a pair of ne’er-do-wells (Vernon Dent and George J. Lewis) who plan to rob the tomb of King Rooten-tooten and steal a diamond worth a hundred thousand dollars.
Seldom is it so easy to pinpoint the exact moment a plan falls apart.
With only fifteen minutes in the film, and a limited number of sets — they skip over the tomb in order to visit an Emir in his palace — it would be easy to say that the short is fairly thin on plot. And it’s true, the plot elements are introduced quickly and resolved just as abruptly. But one doesn’t watch a Three Stooges short film for the plot, one watches it for the humor, and Moe, Larry, and Shemp are in top form here. Larry in particular gets a sequence which — coupled with Moe and Shemp’s unknowing reactions — is absolutely side-splitting. And when the trio go to the palace of the Emir, there are some great slapstick gags played off of Johnny Kascier and Everett Brown, the latter of which does a truly great job interacting with the Stooges.
Malice in the Palace is one of the few Three Stooges shorts to have lapsed into the public domain. It’s absolutely worth looking up, as it is a laugh riot from start to end.