The birthday tribute.
Those of you out there whose weeks are already off to a rough start, I implore you to take this small break and celebrate what would have been the birthday of Moses Harry Horwitz. Moe, of Bensonhurst Brooklyn, was the hectoring leader of The Three Stooges and, in his youth, a chronic truant and an avid reader of Horatio Alger books. He would have been 104 today.
For further reading, I direct you to J. Hoberman’s stellar piece on the history of The Three Stooges and its newest celluloid reboot.
I couldn’t at age 10 but I now embrace my inner Stoogishness. The guys may not make me laugh but I do feel a connection. Angry Moe suggests a tyrannical, frustrated immigrant father; the spectacle of dysfunctional brothers squabbling their way through one failed enterprise after another is a nightmare of non-adaptation. Moreover, their shorts do shout out with gratuitous snatches of Yiddish. The best-known occurs in Mutts to You (1938) where Larry, supposedly speaking Chinese, tells a cop to bug off in fluent, idiomatic Yinglish: “Hak mir nisht ayn tshaynik [don’t rattle my tea-pot] and I don’t mean efsha [maybe]!” And, no efsha about it, the Stooges did make a prematurely anti-fascist movie, albeit one so lowbrow as to have escaped the scrutiny of the 1941 Senate hearings that investigated Hollywood for its supposedly war-mongering anti-German movie propaganda.
This notable achievement is You Nazty Spy! in which, wearing an oversized military great coat and combing his hair to one side of his forehead, Moe plays the dictator of Moronika with Curly and Larry his Field Marshal and Minister of Propaganda. The movie was released in January 1940, nine months in advance of Chaplin’s Great Dictator. Additionally striking are the ways in which the Stooges foreground themselves as Jews, shouting “Sholom Aleichem” in unison in their first scene, expressing an irrational love of blintzes and sour cream in another. The sequel I’ll Never Heil Again (1941) is borderline blasphemous including “Yom Kippers” as a country that Moronika plans to conquer.
Dumb, Dumber, Dumberest [Tablet]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.