|Hold That Lion!|
|Directed by||Jules White|
|Produced by||Jules White|
|Written by||Felix Adler|
Tanner The Lion
|Cinematography||George F. Kelley|
|Edited by||Edwin H. Bryant|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Hold That Lion! is a 1947 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). It is the 100th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
The Stooges are the sole heirs to a grandiose inheritance, but the money is in the hands of an underhanded broker named Icabod Slipp (Kenneth MacDonald). One by one the Stooges confront Slipp in his office. He in turn accuses first Larry, then Moe, then Shemp, of being that crook, and successfully flees his office with the money.
The Stooges follow Slipp on board a train. To avoid a conductor after them for tickets they hide out in a large crate in the baggage car. A lion is also in the crate, and the Stooges run, hiding in a sleeping berth. Moe sticks his foot out through the curtain and the lion licks it, then climbs up in the berth. After bickering with each other the Stooges escape, pulling down all the curtains to the berths and waking everyone up.
As they make their getaway in the confusion, the Stooges spot Slipp and take off after him. They chase him to the baggage car and finally defeat him, reclaiming their inheritance.
Hold That Lion! was filmed on January 28–31, 1947, the first film produced after the new year. The film premiered the final version of "Three Blind Mice" as the Stooges' theme music, an updated, faster version arranged by Spud Murphy in the key of F major (the Curly period featured versions in G major, making it easy to differentiate between the two eras). With minor variations (all in F), this version was used through the end of Stooges' short subject releases in 1959. Although Hold That Lion! was the third film released featuring Shemp after his return to the Stooges, it was filmed after Squareheads of the Round Table and The Hot Scots, both which still utilized the "sliding strings" version of "Three Blind Mice" featured in the previous Shemp entries Fright Night and Out West, and in the final 12 entries starring Curly.
Shemp Howard (a man of many phobias) was reportedly so frightened of the lion that he insisted a glass plate be placed in between him and the animal while filming the scene in the crate, and the Stooges' reflection in the glass can be seen as they are hastily exiting the crate. Apparently, though, Columbia Pictures hired a lion who was getting on in years. Emil Sitka later commented that the feline was "so sickly, he would fall asleep in the middle of a take."
There is an audio goof in the film during a scene that featured Dudley Dickerson reacting to the lion. The laughing of a crew member can be heard in the background.
Curly Howard returns
Hold That Lion! is notable for a cameo appearance by former Stooge Curly, younger brother of Shemp and Moe. He appears as a snoring passenger who the Stooges think is Icabod Slipp, the man they are looking for. This was the only film that featured not only all four of the original stooges together but also the three Howard brothers — Moe, Curly, and Shemp — in the same film. This also marks the first time Curly is shown on camera with a full head of hair, and his only film appearance following the stroke that ended his career as a full-time Stooge.
Director Jules White remembers:
It was a spur of the moment idea. Curly was visiting the set; this was some time after his stroke. Apparently he came in on his own since I didn't see a nurse with him. He was sitting around, reading a newspaper. As I walked in, the newspaper, which he had in front of his face, came down and he waved hello to me. I thought it would be funny to have him do a bit in the picture, and he was happy to do it.
Hold That Lion! would be the template for recycled films starting in 1953. Three films in a row utilized footage from this short:
- First, Booty and the Beast recycled the second half of Hold That Lion! consisting of scenes on the train (including Curly Howard's cameo);
- Next, Loose Loot recycled the first half, consisting of scenes in various offices;
- Finally, Tricky Dicks recycled the only segment from Hold That Lion! not previously used: the filing cabinet sequence from the early office scenes.
Due to this successful practice, director Jules White would begin recycling entire scenes (rather than re-film them) as a cost-saving tactic for the remainder of the Stooges' tenure in Columbia Pictures' short subject department.
- Finegan, Richard (Fall 1999). "More Stooge Shorts Music Identified (1939-1942)". The Three Stooges Journal. Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania: The Three Stooges Fan Club, Inc. (91): 3, 14. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
- Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Comedy III Productions, Inc. pp. 296–298, 420. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4.
- Shifres, Ed (Summer 2001). "The Three Stooges Supporting Players: Mini-Biographical Profiles (Kenneth MacDonald)". The Three Stooges Journal. Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania: The Three Stooges Fan Club, Inc. (98): 10.
- Okuda, Ted; Watz, Edward; (1986). The Columbia Comedy Shorts, p. 69, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 0-89950-181-8
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