12:35:20 pm on
Monday 18 Oct 2021

Surprising Connections
AJ Robinson

Source: threestooges.com

These days it’s surprising what old films you can find on a streaming service. Last week I watched Kook’s Tour, the final film of The Three Stooges. I watched it on the Tub.

An unreleased movie.

Kook’s Tour was not released. It was intended as the pilot for a tour; shows The Stooges would perform at national and state parks across the country. An unfortunate event cancelled the tour.

Sadly, Larry Fine suffered a debilitating stroke during filming and the project was shelved. My brother, David, is a big Stooges fan. He saw Kook’s Tour at a Stooges Convention some years ago.

David felt this film was not the best work of the Stooges. After watching, I had to agree. Yet, it was still nice to see them in their final performance.

On Tubi, I also found Bugsville, which I saw many years ago, when it was called Hoppity Goes to Town. That was its 1941 release tile; filmmakers were trying to sort of tie it into the movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

Now they’re trying to make people think of A Bug’s Life. Who cares, right? It’s still the same movie.

Anyway, I decided to give it a watch, as I enjoy a good, animated movie and a touch of nostalgia. Besides, there wasn’t much else on to watch, which is kind of ironic. Ump-teen zillion cable channels available and it’s often hard to find something to watch.

I was also a little concerned about my wife Jo Ann, as she was sitting next to me on the couch. Would she want to see the film? Although she does like the occasional animated movie, she’s not quite the aficionado that I am, but I wanted to take her viewing preferences into account.

She was fine with it. She could always just play a game on her phone to pass the time. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, so it wasn’t like we could hit the pool or go to the flea market.

The movie started. It played out as I remembered. I recalled how, as a kid, I’d been so surprised to see that the movie was not made by Disney.

Back then I thought only Disney ever dared to even think of making such movies. The story is basic, a love triangle of a sort. Hoppity the grasshopper is in love with Honey Bee, but so is the old miser Mr Beetle.

Ah, what a wild and crazy life we lead.

Beetle owns a huge estate in the well-protected section of the yard of a home for humans. Hoppity and the others live in the lowlands, an area with a broken fence that allows the humans to walk through and leads to disastrous results for its residents.

Hoppity tries several ways to protect or move his fellow residents. None work. Then, when the homeowner can’t pay the mortgage, the house goes into foreclosure.

Beetle schemes to force Honey to marry him, but in the middle of the ceremony, workers arrive to start building a skyscraper on the site. When Hoppity overhears the former homeowners talk of building a little penthouse cottage he convinces the people to climb the building during construction and they thus reach their own little Garden of Eden in the sky.

A happy ending, I suppose. What of Beetle? He and his two minions, the comedy relief of the story, Swat the Fly and Smack the Mosquito, find they took a wrong turn and end up outside the fence of the garden. Of course, given that they can fly that seems a moot point.

Anyway, it was a fun watch and differed from many other stories in that Hoppity and Honey, even though they are the main characters are not the main driving force of the story. It was an ensemble piece.

The other aspect of the movie, as with so many animated movies, especially of that era, was that it had many musical numbers. That’s caught the attention of Jo Ann. Every time a song played, she’d listen to a little of it and then say the same thing: “That was one of my dad’s favorite songs.” I was quite surprised as none of the songs are especially memorable; say “Let it Go” or “When You Wish Upon a Star”.

Apparently, these songs meant something to good old Ralph de la Osa. Jo Ann asked what I knew of the movie. I explained it came out in 1941, literally days before the Pearl Harbor Attack, and, as a result, never had wide release.

Her dad, an adolescent at the time, had clearly seen Hoppity Goes to Town, probably at a theatre in New York City; the songs stuck. Jo Ann smiled as she told me how he’d often hum or break into song while doing something around the house; often the song he chose was from that movie. Putting her phone down, she sat back and watched the film and shared with me some more memories of her dear old dad.

Unexpectedly good non-Disney film.

It was a surprising connection; not what I expected from an old non-Disney animated film. Hoppity Goes to Town is now a film I will cherish and be sure to share with my daughter Alexa and any future members of the family. It’s the kind of memory that’s truly special and families can always use more of those.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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