Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overlooked Films: THE OUTLAWS IS COMING (1965)


When I was a little kid I loved everything about the Three Stooges, including the series of feature films (starting with Have Rocket, Will Travel) featuring the ersatz Curly, Joe DeRita. As a bigger kid, while my Stoogemania is undiminished, I find DeRita extremely painful to watch. Curly Howard's humor was demented, simple-minded and ferocious all at the same time. Joe DeRita's is simply meek. And since much of the Stooge dynamic still revolves around his character, the group is a pale shadow of what it once was.

On the plus side, I suppose I should be thankful they were still making films at all. And The Outlaws Is Coming isn't all bad, For instance, what other western film gives you Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Belle Starr, Johnny Ringo, Cole Younger, Rob Dalton and Annie Oakley, all at the same time? It would have been better, of course, if even one of them had been portrayed by a memorable actor, but their inclusion still falls into the plus column. 


For purposes of the story, everyone in that group except Annie is considered an outlaw. It's only through the intervention of the Stooges that they all profess to see the light and pledge to uphold law and order, making them eligible for future TV series. The only one with serious screen time is Annie. Aside from being the female romantic lead, she gets the John Wayne role from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, secretly doing the shooting for hapless dude Adam West. 

The film makes some odd attempts at topical humor, with a couple of Beatles jokes and references to 1960s TV commercials. And toward the end, what really saves the day is the highlight of many a classic Stooges film, a pie fight. Though I cringed every time Joe DeRita opened his mouth, I just couldn't stop watching.








The Overlooked Films Round-up is at Sweet Freedom.

9 comments:

David Cranmer said...

I was always partial to Shemp Howard myself. And this is one later film I somehow missed. How could that have happened?! Need to rectify that straight away!

Anonymous said...

Adam West as "Gunman" instead of "Batman." What a Hoot!!! ~ Fleet Commander Johnson, Retired

Oscar said...

Don't remember watching this one. Looks like I missed another 3 Stooge mash up.

Cap'n Bob said...

I agree about DiRita, and meek is a perfect way to describe him. I've seen this movie a couple of times. I didn't like it the first time that much, but it grew on me the second. But for me, the best of the Stooges will always be the short subjects with Curly.

Anonymous said...

I think my first exposure to the Stooges was their feature films, so I was OK with "Curly Joe" DiRita. That is, I had the luxury of judging him on his own merits, instead of comparing him to Curly Howard. In fact, when I was seven, I may not have even realized that "Curly" in the shorts was not the same guy as "Curly Joe" in the features (and in 1960's comic books). I didn't get confused until the first time I saw one with Shemp (who took some getting used to, but he grew on me).

The "girlfriend secretly doing the shooting" bit may have been used in Bob Hope's "The Paleface" and its remake, "The Shakiest Gun in the West." The climax of Hope's "Alias Jesse James" (with cameos by TV Western stars) was kind of a variation of the idea.

Of course, the best Stooges shorts were the earliest ones in the 1930's. By the mid-1940's, the series was in a decline, with a lot of recycled scripts and stock footage. But then, you could say the same thing about movie series in general, including serials and "B" Westerns.

Anonymous said...

I went to IMDB to check whether some familiar bit players or future stars were hiding under those mustaches. Nope-not one even vaguely familiar name.
A.S.

Ron Scheer said...

Pie throwing. Never tire of it.

Cap'n Bob said...

Joe Bolton, who played Rob Dalton, might be Officer Joe Bolton, who had a Stooges afternoon show on local TV in New York in the sixties. He claimed to be a friend of Moe's.

Bill O said...

Other local TV Stooge hosts were also cast. Ed McDonnell, Boston's Major Mudd, is Bat Masterson. The title's also a contemporary reference: "The Birds is Coming".