Films of Emil Sitka: ALL GUMMED UP (1947)
by Saxon E. Sitka
ALL GUMMED UP was Emil's fourth Stooge film and his twentieth job at Columbia's short subjects department. Jules White produced and directed writer Felix Adler's script to create a movie that ranks amongst the Stooges' funnier films.
Emil loved playing eccentric old men, and this was his first
such role in a Stooge film. He really got into the character, even
though he was only thirty-two years old at the time. Emil said that
after the make-up was applied, one look in the mirror and he immediately
"felt old and grouchy." Stooge fans that met Emil thirty and forty
years later were amazed to find old "Amos Flint" alive and well and not
the least bit grouchy.
In the spring of 1947, Emil was working to support his wife and four little children, as well as appearing in a play titled "The Time of Your Life" by William Saroyan. As usual, when life got too busy, Emil's diary entries got smaller, and his comments for the dates he worked in ALL GUMMED UP are extremely short and do little more than verify the events.
Emil was at the studio two days prior to filming, allowing the make-up people a practice run to ensure they could convincingly add four or five decades to his appearance. Emil' diary entry for Monday, April 21, 1947:
Today I was deeply aged and bearded for a character role in the next Stooge comedy in which I'll play.
The following two diary entries for the days he actually filmed his scenes are even shorter. Emil's diary for Wednesday, April 23, 1947:
As "Amos Flint," an old grouch and skinflint, with the 3 Stooges at Columbia Studio on Sunset & Vermont.
And for the next day, Thursday, April 24, 1947:
With the Stooges at Columbia today - it was all work.
It looks like it was a lot of work too. In his very first scene, Emil has to stoop down just in time to let another actor jump over him from ground level. Then he goes through the mustard plaster sequence hunched over the entire time. Next he takes a pie in the face. His next scene has him leaning backward and taking first a telescope in the mouth and then a funnel. The collection of odd food items that Larry and Shemp find to put done that funnel and into Emil's mouth is enough to make you gag! Then they insert a yard-long mixing stick to stir things up. Not quite done, the Stooges apply a toilet plunger to Emil's face just to help coax it all down.
Emil/Amos Flint then asks, "Was that the treatment?" and Moe replies, "Nah, that was just the preliminary examination."
It's easy to see why Jules White needed someone who could be made up to look old but who could still hold up under the physical rigors of the role. With years of stage work playing all sorts of odd, old characters and a reputation for performing his own stunts, Emil was perfect for this part.
Emil was frequently asked by fans which one of the dozens of characters
he played with the Three Stooges was his personal favorite. He
especially enjoyed several particular roles such as the abused "Uncle
Phineas" in GENTS IN A JAM and "old man Goodrich" who comes back from
the dead in WHO DONE IT? After some thought, Emil finally decided that
his favorite was an early role as the "old grouch" name "Amos Flint" in
ALL GUMMED UP.
One may wonder, with all the discomforting elements of this role, why would it be Emil's favorite. The answer of course lies with the dramatic potential and complexity of the character. Emil said, "Amos Flint challenged me to be convincing as an old man but without evoking sympathy, and I had to be mean and harsh without losing the humor of the comedy."
Emil also said this particular role was one of the few times director Jules White allowed him to develop his character himself. White's style of directing usually left an actor feeling like a puppet in his hands. Jules ofter acted out and demonstrated every aspect of precisely how he wanted a part performed. For ALL GUMMED UP though, White was inexplicably open to suggestion, perhaps due to demands on his time or unclear of his own expectations, and he permitted Emil to flesh out the character's personality and mannerisms himself. Drawing on his stage experience where he practiced and perfected the "old man" traits from voice and posture to quirks and reactions, he created the wonderfully testy old grouch we know as "Amos Flint," one of those people you love to see take a pie in the face!
A story Emil often told about ALL GUMMED UP involves a scene near the end, where the lovely blonde actress Christine McIntyre and the Three Stooges eat a cake that Larry accidentally decorated with bubble gum instead of marshmallows. When they try to eat, they chomp and chew the bubble gum and inadvertently they start blowing bubbles.
Emil isn't in the scene but was present when the propman brought out the phony "bubble gum" they were to use to blow the bubbles -- except these weren't really special bubble gum props, they were condoms! The Columbia prop department was really using condoms when they needed a character to blow a bubble from chewing gum. They found it was a large latex balloon with a wide opening that could easily be held in the front of the mouth. Next time you see this film, watch the bubbles. They don't pop and collapse like a bubble. They pull back into the mouth and disappear like a balloon.
Anyway, according to Emil, "Christine McIntyre caused a rumpus when told by Jules White she was to blow a prophylactic instead of bubble gum in the cake-eating scene at the end of the film. She was horrified to learn the bubble-gum was actually condoms."
Copyright, Saxon Emil Sitka. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of any portion of this article in any form is prohibited.
EmilSitka.com Image Gallery:
ALL GUMMED UP (1947)