“An Ache in Every Stake” (1941) presents The Three Stooges as icemen, who struggle to carry a block of ice up a long outdoor set of concrete stairs before it melts. Such are the simple plots that make The Three Stooges shorts easy enough to entertain children, which is why most children love the Stooges and then grow out of it when they realize they’re not supposed to like something this dumb.
This post is my entry for the Guilty Pleasures Blogathon sponsored by the Classic Movie Blog Association. Have a look here for a list of other blogs participating in this fun event.
However, I wouldn’t say that watching “An Ache in Every Stake”, directed by Del Lord, is really a “guilty” pleasure, as I guess I’m blissfully untroubled by too many of those. With a Stooge-like simplicity, I grew up with the idea that if I liked something, it was automatically “cool”. This covers a pretty large range.
Three Stooges short, you’ll see them working at a variety of jobs, mostly unskilled labor. Films today don’t often show characters who like their jobs, especially “working stiff” type jobs. The Stooges bear none of the, for today, typical resentment and anger, or malice at their jobs. Perhaps because in the Depression they are glad to have any job; perhaps they are just too stupid to know they will never get rich driving an ice wagon.
Perhaps, like me, they are blissfully unaware that driving an ice wagon is not something so great.
But I think it’s their innate childlike pleasure when they accomplish a task that makes them happy people, if not terribly successful.
Not that they accomplish too many tasks well, but one must admire their perseverance.
“An Ache in Every Stake” when they suddenly put aside their icemen jobs to prepare a birthday dinner for the master of the house because the tempermental chef, played by Gino Corrado, has quit. Right after the food fight.
His wife, played by Bess Flowers, is distraught about her servant trouble, wanting the party to go well. The Stooges, ever chivalrous where a lady is concerned, don chefs’ outfits and start to cook the dinner and bake the cake. That none of them has experience in this field, has never attended a culinary institute, has never even watched an afternoon of cooking shows on PBS, is irrelevant. The boys must help somehow.
Bess Flowers, incidentally, has the distinction of being in about a zillion movies as an extra, usually with no lines. Some of the films we’ve already discussed on this blog in which she’s had roles include “Rear Window”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Executive Suite”, “Calamity Jane”, “Here Comes the Groom”, and “Double Indemnity.” In “Cry Wolf”, she’s the woman in the painting on the wall.
So, if the respected Queen of the Extras does not discriminate between A-list films and The Three Stooges, who are we to knock them?
Such is my appreciation for The Stooges and “An Ache in Every Stake” in particular, that I visited the site of those famous steps a few years ago. They are a public walkway (like a vertical alley) connecting a road at the bottom of the hill and a road at the top. It is a residential neighborhood, and as you can see by these photos, much more built up and overgrown than when the Stooges were here, failing to deliver a single block of ice. They tried to carry a large ice box up the steps instead. That didn't work out too well, either. But, as always, high marks for trying.
(JT Lynch photo)
These steps are not marked with a sign noting them as a location shot for the Stooges, as the more famous “Music Box Steps” are that were featured in the Laurel and Hardy film. (Which I discussed in this previous post.) You can find the Stooge steps in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles between 2257 and 2258 Fair Oak View Terrace in a cul-de-sac. Have a look here at this website for more photos and an areal view of this location.
The blogger as tourist. (JT Lynch photo)
Speaking of film locations of Hollywood movies, have a look here at Dear Old Hollywood, which is a fun blog that tracks down the real-life spots in our favorite films.
The boys "toboggan" down past the landing where I stood in the above photo.
You can watch "An Ache in Every Stake" here on YouTube.