By HARRISON HAAS
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
While Nazi Germany was no laughing matter, the Three Stooges were not afraid to make Nazi leader Adolf Hitler the target of their slapstick comedy. Daniel Schroeder, of Laconia, has studied the how Larry, Curly and Moe took on Hitler in order to tickle funnybones on the home front.
This Sunday, Schroeder, who is a volunteer at the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, will explore how The Three Stooges became the first performers to openly satirize Hitler. As part of its Cabin Fever Winter Lecture Series, the museum will have its first lecture of the year, entitled The Three Stooges Take on the Axis, where Schroeder will go over the history of the Three Stooges during the war and preview two film shorts.
Being a World War II buff and Stooge-a-holic, Schroeder plans on giving an hour-long lecture about the Three Stooges and what role they played during the war. He will be showing the first short the Stooges made during the war in 1940 called "You Nazty Spy!" along with the sequel made in 1941 titled "I'll Never Heil Again."
During the Stooges' career, they made a total of 190 short films, each lasting around 20 minutes. Before the United States entered the war, they had already begun making fun of foreign leaders. "Before we were in the war, the Stooges were actually attacking the head of everyone else," Schroeder said.
A total of eight shorts were made dealing with the war, including "You Nazty Spy!" which was made to help publicize the Nazi threat when the United States was still neutral.
"Nowadays, very few kids know who Abbott and Costello are, hardly anyone knows who Charlie Chaplin is and Laurel and Hardy are lost, but the Three Stooges are still here," Schroeder said.
The short came out several months before Charlie Chaplin's satire on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany called "The Great Dictator." After "You Nazty Spy!" debuted, Hitler had the Three Stooges immediately placed on his death list.
"You Nazty Spy!" is a short feature making fun of political leadership during the era, taking place in the fictional country of Moronica. The stooges are wallpaper hangers who are chosen to run the government, with Moe being installed as the leader (the Adolf Hitler role), Curly representing Hermman Goring and Benito Mussolini and Larry being a mix between Joseph Goebbels and Joachim von Ribbentrop.
"The short is packed with references making fun of Hitler and the Nazis," Schroeder said. "The more I watch it, the more I'm amazed with what they did with it. They were the first ones to openly stand up and everything they did in it has a meaning. It was genius at the time."
Schroeder said he hopes this lecture will bring new faces to the museum. He wants to try and open the museum up to as many people as possible to learn about wars past and show their respect for those who have served.
"It's not that we're slow or forgotten, but we want people to see it," Schroeder said. "I believe that service to your country is an important thing. Freedom is not free."
Schroeder hopes to have more people visit the museum to appreciate the history of the war.
The Three Stooges Take on the Axis will be presented Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m.
Each Sunday during February, March and April, the Wright Museum holds a different lecture.
For more information on the lecture involving The Three Stooges or others this winter, visit the Wright Museum website at www.wrightmuseum.org.