Mummy's Dummies (1948) is a superior Shemp-era entry in Columbia Pictures' long-running (1934-1958) series of two-reel shorts featuring the Three Stooges. Shemp Howard had taken over the "Third Stooge" spot in 1947, following a stroke suffered by his brother Jerry (aka Curly) during the making of Half-Wits' Holiday (1947). The fill-in was presumed to be temporary, but Curly was never able to rejoin the team. (He died in 1952). Shemp was a more than capable replacement, having worked with his brother Moe and fellow traveler Larry Fine in the combo on the vaudeville circuit before striking out on his own prior to the team making their film debut with MGM in 1933.
An opening title announces that Mummy's Dummies takes place in Ancient Egypt, "In the Reign of the Great King Rootentooten." The boys are owners of The Smiling Egyptians used chariot lot. A sucker... er, customer, shows up as they are repainting a heap. Moe does the introductions: "I'm Honest Moe, that's Honest Shemp, and that's... that's Larry." What they don't know is that their customer is Rhadames (Ralph Dunn), the Chief of the Palace Guards. Moe pushes the bum chariot on him for 400 shekels, saying, "This buggy is in wonderful condition - belonged to an old couple in Babylon; all they did was drive it up to the Temple of Isis once a week." The chariot falls apart as soon as it leaves the lot, so Rhadames hauls the boys to the King's Palace for punishment. The King (Vernon Dent) is suffering from a terrific toothache, however, so the Stooges decide to try and pull the tooth to get on his good side, as they have nothing to lose. (Shemp dons Coke-bottle glasses and blindly makes his way into the King's mouth with a pair of rusty pliers. The "blind Raja" bit was lifted to some degree from an unforgettable character created by Curly in the earlier short Three Little Pirates . In the last decade of Stooges shorts, scenes were increasingly reworked, reshot, and reused from earlier decades). The boys eventually expose a theft of tax money that Rhadames and tax collector Futamon (Phil Van Zandt) are trying to pull over on the King. Along the way Shemp hides in the tomb of "King Putentakeit" as a mummy wrapped from head to toe.
Directed by Edward Bernds, the two-reeler is fast-paced and benefits from the fine support of Columbia shorts regulars Vernon Dent and Phil Van Zandt. Lest anyone think that the comedy goals were in any way high-brow, however, consider this unforgettable bit of dialogue:
Shemp (to one of the King's attractive harem girls): "Some perfume, Sister - what brand do you use?
Shemp: "I know, but what brand do you use?"
Producer: Hugh McCollum
Director: Edward Bernds
Screenplay: Elwood Ullman
Cinematography: Allen Siegler
Art Direction: Charles Clague
Film Editing: Henry DeMond
Cast: Shemp Howard, Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Vernon Dent (King Rootentooten), Ralph Dunn (Rhadames, Phil Van Zandt (Futamon - Tax Collector), Dee Green (Fatima).
by John M. Miller