Men in Black is the third short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.
The trio play medical school graduates whose only credentials are that they had the highest temperatures in their class. They are hired as doctors at the "Los Arms Hospital" only because they have been in their senior class for too many years. The new graduates at the hospital are warned by the superintendent that three of them (the Stooges) are "not overly bright," but that their identities will be concealed as long as they promise to devote their lives to "the glorious cause of duty and humanity", which prompts the three to step forward and thank him profusely for not letting their identities be known.
The short consists of a series of skits in which the Stooges go from one patient to the next, making mistakes ranging from drinking a patient's medicine to sewing their tools inside a man on the operating table.
Production and significanceEdit
The film contains the first appearance of many gags used in later shorts. For instance, this is the first of several Stooge shorts in which the Stooges charge into or out of an office with a door that has a large plate-glass window, slamming the door behind them and shattering the plate glass in the door. It is also the first of many shorts where the Stooges make a liquid concoction of something (in this case, medicine) by randomly pouring together various liquids with nonsensical names (a similar gag is sometimes used where the Stooges pass each other various tools with nonsensical names while operating). The Stooges have several off-the-wall dialogues with nurses, particularly the "hiccuping nurse" played by Jeanie Roberts, who affects a girlish Betty Boop-like voice. As well, this is the first short which shows the Stooges repeatedly engage in a huddle while planning something out.
Finally, this short contains the famous recurring dispatcher line "Calling Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard." In this short, the three doctors get so sick and tired of the repeated calls that they tear down the dispatcher's call board and, when a small transmitter appears on the floor, quivering and still repeating "Doctor Howard! Doctor Fine! Doctor Howard!", they all take out handguns and shoot it. It then breaks the fourth wall, moaning, "Oohh, they got me!". The Stooges then lift a toast and repeat the film's catch-phrase: "For duty and humanity!"
The film is a spoof on the Clark Gable and Myrna Loy 1934 movie Men in White, released earlier that year. The Stooges, in fact, wear mostly white outfits for this film. The short is also significant in that it was the only time that the trio would be nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Short Subject - Comedy".
Men in Black also represents an early use of what has come to be described as hammerspace. The Stooges go to the storage closet to acquire modes of transportation to get them to their patients. They are seen riding a three-man bicycle, a horse, and then individual go-carts out of the closet. These items would not likely fit in the storage closet's space.
- A colorized version of this film was released in 2004. It was part of the DVD collection Goofs on the Loose.
- This short was the basis for the "Hospital" option in the The Three Stooges video game.
- The opening title music is a jazzy big band style melody that is unique to both Men in Black and the previous film, Punch Drunks.
- The renowned comedian Billy Gilbert (the mental patient) makes his first appearance with the Stooges. He would appear in several other Stooges shorts.