Watching the Three Stooges at the Redford Theatre can be a real workout.
There’s the hearty belly laughs that make you throw your head back, giving you a quick glimpse of the starlit blue ceiling. Then there’s the powerfully enthusiastic applause that follows each of the six Stooges short comedies that are shown at the Redford twice a year.
The big crowd that enjoyed the Three Stooges at the Redford on April 14, 2007 also gave the all-volunteer staff a workout that probably left it weary, but pleasantly satisfied with the outstanding turnout that its dedicated efforts produced.
The intermission concession stand line extended almost to the front doors. Moviegoers were spread out across every part of the theater, including the upper balcony. The 50-50 raffle payout was $255 for three lucky visitors (two $100 and one $55 prizes)—one of the largest total awards in the 10 years that I’ve been regularly attending the Redford.
“It’s a great night here,” said stage host Gregory Sumner at intermission. “I love the crowd. I hope you’ll all be ambassadors for the Redford.”
A party atmosphere prevailed on this happy evening. Maybe only the Halloween shows rival the Three Stooges nights for pure fun and excitement. Even organist Brian Carmody’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was met with hoots and whistles.
In Brian’s pre-movie concert, he wore a red-spangled outfit as he kept the energized crowd primed for the main event. He played a series of songs that had him reaching into a bag of hats for headgear that was appropriate for each tune.
Mickey Mouse ears came out for the theme song of the Mickey Mouse Club, with the audience singing M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E. A Detroit Tigers cap came out for a sing-along of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
On the auditorium floor, a man with a mask showing Larry, Moe and Curly was met with loud applause by parts of the audience. He loaned his mask to a young girl, who had her picture taken with her mother. The theater was filled with a lot of youthful energy, from the many children, teenagers and young adults who showed up for this laugh fest. Happy grins were painted on many faces—even before the Stooges hit the screen.
Just before the movie started, host Sumner jokingly said that the Redford was going to show the collected works of William Shakespeare that evening. Then he conducted an applause poll for each of the four Stooges (Larry, Moe, Curly and Shemp). The explosion of clapping and cheering for Curly probably matched the combined applause for the other three.
Then came the main attraction—the six 20-minute short comedies that were released by Columbia Pictures between 1940 and 1950. We were in the absurd and hilariously inept world of the Three Stooges, who went through all their familiar routines—Moe’s bullying; Curly’s creative growls, hoots and facial expressions; and Larry’s straight man act. Also appearing was Shemp, whose strong cult following produced loud cheering for each of his appearances.
Although the slapstick gags made the Stooges famous, many of the funniest routines involved no violence, such as Curly’s literal interpretation of some instructions for preparing a turkey. When the instructions said to separate two eggs, he promptly moved the two eggs farther apart.
As this night of fun played out, the future of the Redford also took shape. A film crew in the lobby photographed the concession stand and interviewed some visitors. And the May-August 2007 Redford schedule made its first appearance at the theater, with such upcoming classics as Stagecoach (May 25-26), The Best Years of Our Lives (July 6-7), and the original 1933 King Kong (July 20-21).
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.