25.6.06

IMAGES OF LAWYERS AND THE THREE STOOGES

This Article surveys several of the Three Stooges "shorts" dealing with law and lawyers, particularly the film Disorder in the Court. Professor Coyne provides a comedic portrayal of the courtroom through the lampoons of the Three Stooges.

According to film critic Leonard Maltin, an observation first made in a 1937 issue of Motion Picture Herald remains true today. "The public, upon which the screen depends for its existence, appears ... to be divided roughly into two groups, one composed of persons who laugh at the Three Stooges and the other made up of those who wonder why."

1. THE STOOGE VERSION OF LAW

Between 1934 and 1959, Columbia Studios released 190 short subjects starring the Three Stooges. Long before the advent of "coming attractions," these "shorts" were considered "curtain raisers," to be shown before the feature, full-length movie. Law-related puns and slanders aimed at lawyers are generously sprinkled throughout the Stooges' films.
If you have difficulty telling the Stooges apart, perhaps Jack Kerouac's descriptions will help. Moe is "mopish, mowbry, mope-mouthed, mealy and mad." Larry, on the other hand, is "goofhaired, mopplelipped, lisped, muxed and completely flunk." And, of course, Curly is the Stooge who loves to "muckle and yuckle and squeal."
To the extent that the Three Stooges portrayed their opinion of the legal system through their comedy films, we should not be surprised that Larry, Moe and Curly lampooned the law as they did. During their careers, the Stooges were in court often, and on occasion even got what they asked for (and I don't mean a ham sandwich, nyuk nyuk nyuk). The variety of their litigation, from divorces to intellectual property claims, gave the Three Stooges ample experience to create Disorder in the Court.

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