22 February 2003 | alvin81
Great scare comedy, marred by an ill Curly
Any Three Stooges fan will tell you that watching Curly Howard's last ten shorts is as painful as root canal. By 1945, Curly was in trouble. He was just getting involved with a young lady named Marion Buchsbaum, whom he married on October 17, 1945, after knowing her for only two weeks. This was Curly's third and most disastrous marriage. He was way overweight, and his blood pressure was too high. When Curly suffered a minor stroke in 1945, it knocked the energy out of him. He would never be the same after this stroke. His actions are rehearsed and nothing came natural to him anymore. IF A BODY MEETS A BODY was a `transitional' short. Curly had been slipping and sliding for a while, but IF A BODY MEETS A BODY is the first time that Curly truly could not hide his condition. The plot revolves around Curly, whose rich Uncle Bob O. Link has died and left Curly an inheritance. The Stooges must then go to the uncle's home to hear the reading of the will. Unfortunately, the will is stolen, and the boys must stay in the home until it is found. The short has some truly funny moments, but it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that Curly is not himself. His condition had crept to the surface occasionally during the previous two Stooge films, IDIOTS DELUXE and BOOBY DUPES. If you watch IDIOTS DELUXE and IF A BODY MEETS A BODY back to back, Curly's change is not as noticeable. Curly's voice is the first sure sign that he had had his stroke. Right from his first line, `the morbid, the merrier,' his accompanying `n'yuks' are strained, and we know there is something wrong. His actions were a little more sluggish, and it marks the start of his gradual downward spiral. What makes this short harder to watch is that much of the action is focused on Curly, except he could not carry the film. Just watch him in 1943's SPOOK LOUDER two years earlier, and the change stands out. Curly tries a few `woos woos' and `nyahs,' as if nothing was wrong. However, he had only begun to lose his grip in this short; here is still some of the old Curly left, but in spurts. For instance, when Ted Lorch says, `Poor Mr. Link, he was murdered in this room, on the very spot on which you're standing,' Curly is strung high over the set to perform a high jump. It is one of the few hysterical moments in the short. It is also the only post-stroke short where it is a true mix of up and down Curly. It looks as if certain scenes were shot during the same period as IDIOTS DELUXE, as Curly still sounds like his old self in certain scenes. However, every short after this would feature a down Curly: it was just a matter of how down he was.