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  • As mentioned in Moe Howard's book MOE HOWARD & THE 3 STOOGES (Citadel Press, 1977), MEN IN BLACK (1934) an early Three Stooges short made at Columbia Pictures was a take off on MEN IN WHITE. "For duty and humanity" is a phrase used numerous times throughout this twenty minute comedy and is a central theme in the Clark Gable/Myrna Loy film which was released earlier that same year. MEN IN BLACK, which contains another reoccurring phrase (which many Three Stooges fans will remember immediately) "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard", was nominated for the Academy Award in 1934 for best short. An abbreviated version of this short was reenactment in the ABC-TV movie THE THREE STOOGES (1999) which was produced by Mel Gibson, a well known Stooges enthusiast.
  • The summary above is the battle cry that starts and ends this episode as the boys graduate from medical school are given diplomas only because they had been in school too long! (huh??)

    They begin their internship at Los Arms Hospital. At various times in this ultra- silly short we see the three "doctors" going down the hospital hallway in a bicycle, a horse and in Soap Box Derby-type cars.

    They meet a goofy nurse and several goofy patients and perform a memorable operation of the hospital boss. In all, it's good, but not great. However, it might be one of the most famous Stooges shorts ever, and one of the looniest. Who can forget the switchboard cry: "Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!"?
  • This belongs in their top tier, although there were others, such as Micro-Phonies and Punch Drunks, that were more deserving of Oscar nominations than this one. But if nothing else, the recurring loudspeaker announcement, "Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard," followed by Curly's "Woo woo woo woo," makes this a classic on two levels. First, it symbolizes all that the Stooges represent; my daughter loves to repeat the announcement when she is in the middle of doing something silly. Second, the absurdity of these three as physicians in a hospital; I imagine the terror I would feel if I were a real patient in a real hospital and heard this announcement over the loudspeaker. Throughout this short, you hear that announcement and you know that something horrible is about to happen, and the loudspeaker voice stays with you for months afterward.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Directed by Raymond McCarey, "Men in Black" is a Three Stooges comedy that is absolutely silly & nonsensical, and I'm not kidding! At the Los Arms Hospital, Drs. Howard, Fine, and Howard (Moe, Larry, and Curly) cause nothing but hijinks as they run around the hospital corridors and confuse the staff & patients with their screwball antics! But not to worry; it's all for the glorious cause of "duty and humanity."

    Highlights: The Stooges adopt wacky names for their various surgical instruments; especially funny is when they ask for cotton. The boys repeatedly smash the glass door when they slam it upon running out of the office of superintendent Dr. Graves (Del Henderson). Three times the Stooges rush into a storage room and exit back out 1.) on a bicycle built for three, 2.) on a large horse, and 3.) inside three miniature race cars. Larry sings in Moe's stethoscope, and the boys sing "O Lee O Lay" with a hiccupping nurse (Jeannie Roberts) providing the beat. And finally, how could anyone forget the comically monotonous call on the loudspeaker? ("Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!").

    "Men in Black" is the only Stooge short nominated for an Academy Award; it didn't win, but it was still quite prestigious considering that it was only the third Stooge short in a series of 190 for Columbia Pictures. Watch for familiar Stooge supporting players Bud Jamison as a doctor, Little Billy (in drag) as a patient, and especially Billy Gilbert as an insane patient.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Columbia Pictures Short Subject unit never had any delusions about producing any 'Art' Films. They wanted to give the film exhibitors just a little more for their money, when booking a Columbia Picture into their theatres. This would go double for The 3 Stooges films.

    MEN IN BLACK (1934) came about as close as any of their Comedy Shorts in that it received an Oscar nomination for Best Short Subject, Comedy. Though it did not win, it well could have. It was good enough and even those who do not number themselves among Stooge-files, still seem to be won over by the clarion cry of ".......calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!" This was the second entry in the long series of Comedy Shorts made by the Stooges for Producer Jules White, head of Columbia's Short Subjects Department. Only WOMAN HATERS, described in its credits as a 'Musical Novelty' preceded it at Harry Cohen's Poverty Row sweatshop.

    The film starts off in the office of Dr. Graves, the Head of the Hospital. He is receiving new interns and in addressing the group, he relates that three of them are passed along from Medical Conditionally as they had remained there so long. But, the good Doctor states that he will not reveal their identities as long as they pledge their all "......for Duty and Humanity!" The Stooges run up front pledging "...for Duty and Humanity!", and run out of office, breaking window glass in door. The game was on.

    The Stooges took off and did not stop for the remainder of the 2 Reels. Every type of gag was in evidence. From broad Sennett-like sight gags, to puns, to dialect humor, to 'theatre of the absurd' and a surrealistic running gag involving a Public Address System, which seemingly takes on a life of its own and having the true culprit, a radio tube get shot to a "........he got me!" (It all plays out quite well, honest!) The sets used were very authentic looking and were no doubt borrowed from Columbia features being made around the same time. There are plenty of Wheel Chairs, Surgical Cotts, Stethascopes, Surcical Scalpels, etc., in evidence to maintain the illusion of a Hospital.

    A true strength of MEN IN BLACK is the high number of usually nameless players, whom we all recognize by face. Along with them, the film boasts of a great number of veteran comedy actors, who always turn in fine performances, often stealing the scene. The people with names like Billy Gilbert, Hank Mann and Bud Jamison shine in even small parts.

    And lastly we have the Maestro, the Conductor-Director Raymond McCarey, kid brother to Leo McCarey who showed off his abilities in getting this little film 'in the can'. He skillfully kept it all moving, acting as a Traffic Cop at times, what with all the actors, extras and behind the scenes crew moving and outside of each other's way. And that doesn't count the Giant 3 Man Tandem Bicycle, The Sway Backed Horse and Miniature Race Cars, not to mention the 'Giant, Green Canaries!'
  • maxcellus469 December 2005
    This is one particular Stooge short that actually uses satire in conjunction with slapstick, a rarity. As mentioned, the title and concept for this short was "borrowed" from a feature film from the same year with Clark Gable called "Men In White". It's basically about the trials and tribulations of interns and their sacred cause for "duty and humanity". I saw this recently and almost treated it like the Stooge version because it does take itself a little too seriously. In any case, "Men In Black" is so well written, directed and not to mention original, it didn't borrow a thing from Chaplin or any of the others, that the Motion Picture Academy nominated it for an award as the best short comedy of 1934. Some stinky short called "La Cucaracha" outdid it though and stole the award. Some producer's brother in law must have been on the Academy's voting board. "Men In Black" pokes fun at the whole concept of the medical profession much in the same way that the Marx Bros. always did at this time. May not be a fair comparison but I can see the Marx Bros. in this short. In fact in their feature "A Day At The Races", there is a scene where there's "medical things" going on and they cause anarchy as usual. My guess that this particular short was judged along those lines and hence why it was nominated in the first place. Try this in fact: watch this short first and then watch "Duck Soup" or "Day at the Races" with the Marxes and then see if there isn't the same great quality of comedy.
  • This Oscar-nominated Three Stooges short was possibly a spoof on the Clark Gable hospital drama MEN IN WHITE (1934). The insane comedy style of the film is pretty much influenced by The Marx Bros. – but actually anticipates their own assault on the medical profession in A DAY AT THE RACES (1937)! The Stooges go to their designated operating rooms via horses, racing-cars and the like; the operation on their own boss sees them using an electric drill and then stitching him up with all the various instruments of the profession still inside! As ever, the comic trio fall back too often on slapping each other around (not to mention fooling around with some girl, in this case a dumb nurse); actually, the best gag revolves around the glass on the boss’ office door (which is smashed every time our heroes leave his company, since they’re constantly being called to explain their unethical behavior – seeing them coming one more time, the janitor who’s forever replacing the glass anticipates them by breaking it himself!). Incidentally, both director McCarey and screenwriter Felix Adler worked contemporaneously on the (more sympathetic but no less havoc-ridden) films of Laurel & Hardy.
  • lee_eisenberg30 December 2016
    A criticism that I've heard of the Three Stooges is that - unlike Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers, all of whom treated the underdog with dignity - they make it look as if the underdog deserves to be the underdog. As long as we understand that, it's easy to laugh at the gags that abound in "Men in Black", as the trio become doctors and cause a series of mishaps in the hospital (namely with the superintendent's door). This short received an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Subject - Comedy (now Best Live Action Short Film) but lost to "La Cucaracha".

    Basically, it makes no pretense about what it is. A good time to be had.
  • The third Three Stooges Men in Black is notable, as it's the trio's only short to ever get an academy award nomination (and personally I think it should have won). It's also among their most referenced shorts in popular culture, as paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard has been referenced in multiple shows and movies. Does that make this short a masterpiece? In one wrong – YES!

    Men in Black is one of The Stooges most memorable (up there with You Nazi Spy, Punch Drunks, Micro-Phones, A Plumbing We Will Go, Disorder In The Court and so on). The short is absolutely hilarious, I love it when The Three Stooges are introduced as three people who weren't very good doctors but were only hired because they had been held back in the class for so long. I also love the idea of Three Stooges as doctors, it works so well. I especially love it when The Three Stooges get on the tricycle, and then end up on a horse and then finally inside three little cars. Classic scene.

    Men in Black is one of The Stooges funniest shorts ever. They're very much unrestrained in this short, and the humor is great.
  • mobanion30 September 2000
    This is one of the Stooges best shorts. It was the only one of their shorts to be nominated for an oscar. In this short the Stooges play doctors, who cause some trouble as usual. This short has non-stop sight-gags, puns, and jokes. The part at the end, where the Stooges are breaking apart the machine. This is definitely a classic. I would highly recommend this Three Stooges short.
  • While mostly routine for the Stooges, "Men in Black" still has some good moments. This time, the boys have somehow managed to graduate from medical school, and they are working in a hospital, where their performances as doctors are about what you would expect them to be. The humor in this one mostly mostly relies on a set of recurring gags, with the best one being the Stooges' frantic entrances and exits to and from the office of the hospital's superintendent. It doesn't have the sustained laughs of their better comedies, but there are some funny parts that make it worth a look.
  • tedg12 February 2006
    Writing a comment about a Stooges short is a strange business. They are all pretty much the same in the stuff that matters. It's the Laurel and Hardy formula of the destruction of the environment adding in the destruction of each other.

    So when you comment on them, either you need to note some quality of the chaos (invasion of the body), some bit of trivia (what it is the parody of) or some note about the story itself. It's a frustrating business in a way, sort of like trying to say something interesting about a MacDonald's hamburger. Or the weather.

    In this case, it is the story itself we note. Here we are in the thirties, quite early in the life of Stooge shorts but late in the cycle where you could get away with physical humor itself. So we have comedy acts folding in other comedic devices, like parodies of other movies, word jokes, goofs on stereotypes. Audiences of the day would have recognized the movie "Men in White" that was the source of some of the jokes.

    And contemporary audiences would have understood the more pointed joke about the public address system (do they call it that any more?) that wouldn't die.

    Ted's Evaluation - 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
  • Though not a huge fan, I am a Three Stooges purist. I believe that their best work, by far, was with Curly as the third Stooge and their earliest films with Columbia are generally their best. That's because after a while, they began remaking their films and the gags started to get stale. Here, in 1934, they were still rather fresh (in more ways than one) and funny.

    Here they boys play very improbably roles--respected doctors in a hospital! The three run amok acting silly, hitting each other and scaring the pants off anyone who expects to get better. The non-stop energy and freshness make this one a must-see for fans.

    By the way, although I liked this film, I STRONGLY recommend you try to find a much lesser known short from tiny Educational Pictures. NIFTY NURSES is much like MEN IN BLACK but manages to be funnier and is about the best hospital comedy of the era--better even than Laurel & Hardy's COUNTY HOSPITAL.
  • The Three Stooges has always been some of the many actors that I have loved. I love just about every one of the shorts that they have made. I love all six of the Stooges (Curly, Shemp, Moe, Larry, Joe, and Curly Joe)! All of the shorts are hilarious and also star many other great actors and actresses which a lot of them was in many of the shorts! In My opinion The Three Stooges is some of the greatest actors ever and is the all time funniest comedy team!

    One of the most hilarious Three Stooges shorts is Men in Black. In this short are Bud Jamison, Jeanie Roberts, Phyllis Crane, Dell Henderson, 'Little Billy' Rhodes, Billy Gilbert, and Ruth Hiatt The acting by these actors are good especially by Jamison and Roberts. There are many funny scenes here that I think most Three Stooges fans will love! In My opinion this one of the most different Three Stooges shorts. I recommend this one to all!
  • Directed by the younger brother of great director Leo McCarey this is a pretty good short from the Three Stooges, nominated for an Academy Award. Here the stooges are doctors named doctor Howard, doctor Fine and doctor Howard. They are not the brightest doctors but they get the benefit of the doubt as long as they handle for duty and humanity.

    I liked this short. It is not one of their best but some moments are hilarious though. One joke that is repeated more than once works every time. The part where they must operate the hospital's boss is terrific. To say more would spoil some of the jokes, so you must see it for yourself. Just another fine short from the Three Stooges.
  • I've just watched this, the third in the Three Stooges series of shorts for Columbia Pictures and the only one nominated for an Academy Award (it didn't win). In this one, Drs. Howard (Moe), Fine (Larry), and Howard (Curley as his name was spelled at the time) are running amok at the hospital as they dedicate themselves "for duty and humanity". God help us all if there's anyone like them in real life! Anyway, there's plenty of hilarious running gags and lines that the pace never stops for one minute and when it does, the whole thing is over just like that. Among highlights: a scatterbrained nurse (Jeanie Roberts) perplexing the Stooges-even Curley-who also provides some comic hiccups and a crazy patient (Billy Gilbert who I usually associate with Laurel & Hardy) who sees birds and rats. Add in regular stock player Bud Jamison and a "female" little person patient among others and you've got a good idea of what to expect from Men in Black. So on that note, I highly recommend this short.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Everyone's favorite trio of bumbling imbeciles run amok in a hospital in this incredibly raucous and often hysterically funny romp. These guys are without a doubt the single most incompetent bunch of doctors to ever fumble their way across the screen. Comic highlights include the Stooges constantly breaking a glass pane in a door, their encounter with a deranged patient who claims that rats used to come out of the buttonhole of his shirt, the Stooges riding through the hallways on a giant bicycle, a huge horse, and miniature race cars, and our sublimely stupid threesome accidentally leaving instruments inside a hapless patient's abdomen after they finish operating on the poor fellow. Director Ray McCarey relates the frantic comic shenanigans at an appropriately nonstop hectic pace and stages the broad slapstick gags with considerable gusto. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard are all in peak loopy form, with sterling support from Dell Henderson as long-suffering hospital supervisor Dr. Graves, squeaky-voiced Jeanie Roberts as a hiccuping nurse (the scene where the Stooges do an absurd impromptu group singalong with this gal is absolutely sidesplitting!), Ruth Hiatt as a whispering nurse, Billy Gilbert as the ranting crazy patient, and "Little Billy" Rhodes as a feisty tiny patient. The spirited lunacy never lets up for a minute, thereby making this beautifully berserk baby one of the Stooges' best-ever outings.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard (themselves), Jeannie Roberts (nurse with hic-cups), Dell Henderson (Dr Graves), Hank Mann (glazier), Billy Gilbert (overbearing patient), "Little Billy" Rhodes (patient), Bud Jamison (doctor with "Little Billy"), Phyllis Crane (Anna Conda), Ruth Hiatt (whispering nurse), Bob Callahan (western union), Kay Hughes, Betty André, Carmen André, Irene Coleman, Eve Kimberly, Eve Reynolds, Helen Splane, Billie Stockton, Lucile Watson (nurses), Arthur Rankin, Neal Burns, Joe Fine (attendants), Charles Dorety (doctor), Charles King (anaesthetist), Pat West, Joseph Mills (bits).

    Director: RAY McCAREY. Screenplay; Felix Adler. Photography: Benjamin Kline. Film editor: James Sweeney. Music: Howard Jackson. Producer: Jules White.

    Copyright 1 October 1934 by Columbia Pictures Corp. U.S. release: 28 September 1934. 2 reels. 19 minutes.

    NOTES: Filming commenced 29 August 1934 and wrapped 1 September 1934. Nominated for a prestigious Hollywood award for Best Short Subject, but lost out to La Cucaracha.

    COMMENT: In these days of medical mishaps and alleged professional incompetence, this Stooges' short cuts a little too close to the bone. True, it would be funny if it didn't have real-life parallels. The comics themselves are in top form and are here accorded fine production values, including a top support cast featuring such renowned character players as Lucile Watson, Billy Gilbert, Charles King and Kay Hughes (later to enjoy a brief moment of glory as the feminine lead of the Dick Tracy serial).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Men in Black" is a Stooges short film from over 80 years ago and among the earlier works of the almost 200 short films they did. As usual, this one runs for roughly 18 minutes and stars Curly, Larry and Howard. In this one they appear as doctors and they are called so often that it almost became annoying. Unfortunately, the comedy here is still far away from peak Stooges and I cannot really see the appeal with this short film. A bit surprising in my opinion that it was nominated for an Academy Award. Maybe the reason is that they were still fairly new and refreshing and comedy short films (apart from animation) weren't really anything too common in 1930s America. Nonetheless, this one here is only worth a watch for the biggest Stooges fans. I did not enjoy it too much. Thumbs down.
  • This is an early one from the boys, but some people may not be satisfied with this one like all the others. I found it to be different somehow than the your average Stooge slapstick. It was more funny for it's jokes rather than the poke in the eye or slap. Watch for a hilarious part when Larry grabs the stethoscope from Moe and sings into it. Moe gives him a good smack. That part made me crack up for a good ten minutes. Another hit for the Stooges.
  • It's probably a cultural thing---somehow, the natives of this country have been conditioned to find this stuff funny. I have experienced this phenomenon first-hand, during an open-air cinema event, where this film was shown before the feature. Most of the indigenous audience laughed, and no, this wasn't in a sanitarium or a clinic for retarded children, this was in a well-to-do area, and the audience consisted mostly of educated adults.

    So it must be possible, somehow, to find this amusing, but honest to goodness, I have no idea what it takes---maybe it's in the air or the water, prolonged exposure to which causes this condition. Something must cause it, obviously, the only thing I can say is that I am quite sure what doesn't cause it: the movie itself.

    There are no jokes in it. It's brain dead, stupid, nonsensical, unfunny, lame. It's, in short, a waste of time. Any Tom and Jerry is funnier, heck even funerals are funnier.

    Just in case you have been fortunate enough not ever to have seen any of the Stooges' performances: It's three guys behaving, running, even talking like retarded infants, causing all kinds of unfunny mayhem, with no plot, no real purpose, and no real conclusion. It's like ugly Teletubbies without the cute costumes.

    Sitting in a crowd watching this garbage in this country can be quite exasperating, because you feel like you are at a party with a bunch of potheads and you are the only one who hasn't smoked anything.

    So unless you are prepared to intoxicate yourself to make this bearable, or come equipped with whatever it is that makes people think watching three ugly old men behave like morons is funny, my advice on this is: Stay way. Far away.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Three Stooges have a large following of fans but for the most part the trio's appeal eludes me. A slapstick was a paddle-like device that made a resounding whack when one member of the Commedia del'Arte slapped another with it. It's old stuff and sometimes brutal when used indiscriminately. The Stooges rely on it.

    Here, Moe, Shemp, and Curly are three doctors who have been graduated from medical school only because they've been there too long. There are the predictable whangs and bonks with fingers, fists, and mallets. The three run around and wind up performing an operation wearing absurd costumes and leaving all the surgical instruments inside the patient, who then tinkles when he moves. That's the funniest gag of the lot.

    I guess I can't say I'm one of those devoted followers. The gags aren't particularly inventive. You don't have to know anything or be at all sophisticated to appreciate them. Few are verbal. For me, there are times when more wit appears in the titles of the shorts than in the shorts themselves -- eg., "Gorilla My Dreams," "Dutiful But Dumb."
  • ftgplus426 September 2006
    I found this one to be more chaotic than the average Stooges short (as strange as that may sound). There were several funny bits, especially the running gags ("Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!", the glass door breaking, the Stooges running into the supply room and coming back out with... well, you know), but also quite of bit of it was taken up with things that just didn't make any sense to me. I have to assume that these were generally take-offs of scenes from the film "Men In White", but since I don't know much about that movie I can't say for sure. Maybe if someone could explain these I'd appreciate this short more.
  • Michael_Elliott25 February 2008
    Men in Black (1934)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    The Three Stooges begin work as doctors even though they know nothing about medicine. This is one of the weaker Stooges shorts that I've seen, although there are a few mild chuckles. The two best scenes are when they go into visit with patients and meets some rather strange people including one guy who sees rats coming out of his button hole. The breaking glass gag doesn't work the first time and we see it over and over.

    Now available on Columbia's 2-disc set, which features over 20 shorts from 1934-36.
  • Of all the Three Stooges films this is the one that baffles me the most, and I'm sure many other fans will consider me a blasphemous knucklehead for not really caring for it. I've always liked the Stooges, but this one is the epitome of what I think many "Stooge Haters" can't stand about them. They play three zany doctors here who have no business being anywhere near a hospital as they completely turn the place upside down with nonstop slapstick. That's what bugs me about it; it's just silliness and stupidity gone wild, but only for its own sake, without much reason other than to just act nutty. Unbelievably, MEN IN BLACK was the one and only Stooges film to ever be nominated for an Oscar (fortunately, sanity must have prevailed since it didn't win). If I were going to nominate a Stooges comedy for an award it would be PUNCH DRUNKS, the short just before this one. Sorry, puddin' heads. ** out of ****
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