Films of Emil Sitka: THREE HAMS ON RYE (1950)
by Saxon E. Sitka
After small roles at R. K. O. and Twentieth Century Fox, Emil's next job was back at Columbia's Short-Subjects department for THREE HAMS ON RYE (1950), Emil's eighth film with the Three Stooges. It was also the last work Emil did in the year 1948.
Made from a script called HOW HAMMY WAS MY HAMLET by Clyde Bruckman, THREE HAMS ON RYE was produced and directed by Jules White. Joining Emil in the cast were Christine McIntyre, Nanette Bordeaux, Mildred Olsen, Judy Malcolm, Brian O'Hara, Danny Lewis, Blackie Whiteford and Ned Glass. Danny Lewis was father of famous comedian Jerry Lewis, who was starting to enjoy immense popularity in 1948.
THREE HAMS ON RYE opens with a close-up of a newspaper page on which we can read an entertainment column that says:
THEATRE CHIT-CHAT by Nick Barker.
ANOTHER BROADWAY TURKEY ALL SET TO LAY AN EGG
B.K. Doaks, Producer of Ten Flop Shows, to Open Latest Can of Corn Tonight -- "The Bride Wore Spurs"
Smart boys along the Gay White Way predict that the odor of ham coming from the Mason Theater will smell up Broadway for miles. The betting is one hundred to one that THE BRIDE WORE SPURS will fold after the first performance.
Emil plays "B.K. Doaks," the impatient producer of this new play called "The Bride Wore Spurs," and the Stooges are his stage workers, as well as aspiring actors.
When Emil makes his entrance into his first scene, he walks into the Boys having a little disagreement and Moe inadvertently whacks him in the face with a soaking wet paint brush. As he wipes his face, Doaks (Emil) is furious but manages to suppress his anger long enough to demand that the Stooges prevent "Nick Barker," a notorious critic who's been panning all of Doaks' plays, from getting into the theater. He suggests they disguise themselves and warns that "Barker" has been known to disguise himself too. Emil clenches his fist and shouts angrily, "So if you see any suspicious characters, give 'em the works!"
This recipe for disaster soon has Emil clobbered on the head and choked around the neck, and then revived with a bucket of water thrown into his face that prompts him to sputter and exclaim, "Women and children first!" as he regains consciousness.
Of course, the critic does get in, and "Doaks" yells at the Stooges, "If I had someone to replace you in that last act, I'd fire you!" Emil does a lot of angry yelling in this role.
As the Stooges prepare props for the play, they unintentionally bake a pot-holder into a cake that is to be used in the final act. This leads to trouble later when the time comes for the actors, while performing on stage, to eat the cake. They begin coughing up feathers, and of course chaos ensues.
Emil, as "Doaks," is seen in the wings going nuts and literally pulling chunks of hair out of his head. But when the curtain is finally brought down, the audience thinks it was all part of the act and applauds enthusiastically. Not realizing this, Emil rushes up to the Stooges in a fit of anger and fires them.
Just then, the infamous critic "Nick Barker" shows up to congratulate an incredulous "Doaks" on presenting a wonderful satire, whereupon "Doaks" reverses his attitude instantly and says, "I'm starring these boys in my next production."
Featured in the Image Galleries below are eight slides found in my father's collection. I'm not sure why he had these slides but they do depict some of his scenes. There are also some nice stills and posters, and a press clipping my father cut out and preserved in his scrapbook.
In December of 1948, when he got the call for this job, Emil was broke. With a family to feed, he took any acting jobs that came his way, but he remained otherwise unemployed due to the head and neck pains he'd been suffering ever since working in the Columbia short BILLIE GETS HER MAN (1948)
eleven months before.
After three weeks with no work since his last job in THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND (1949)
, Emil wrote in his diary for Wednesday, December 8, 1948:
When I hear that old adage "tis darkest before the dawn" I sometimes don't take it seriously. But today a call came from Columbia Pictures Studio, just as we were wondering about food & the future!
I was happy to hear I was to pick up my script tomorrow morning -- and work at the art I can do, and love to do for life, as always I've wanted.
Emil's diary for the next day, Thursday, December 9, 1948:
At Columbia Studios I was given a role of "producer" in a Stooge comedy by Jules White.
I went to watch my acting again in the Joe Palooka movie "Fighting Mad.
Emil's diary for his scheduled date to work, Tuesday, December 14, 1948:
Right away, immediately this Stooge comedy for Columbia begins with me. Mine is the very first scene to be taken -- and I am rushed through wardrobe, make-up & lighting. Then my hair-pulling routine under Jules White's direction goes through several tries before White is satisfied. But it went better & better and towards the end of the day my really most difficult dialogue scenes went the best -- and needed but one take. This put us almost even on the schedule that was lagging.
If I didn't have to rehearse "The Viper's Fang" tonight I'd go to sleep, that's how my head ached & I was sleepy -- after a rather sleepless night.
Emil's diary for the next day, Wednesday, December 15, 1948:
Up early and at Darmour Studio for the Stooge comedy -- but my single scene for the day didn't come off till almost noon. And then it took only a short while because my part of it went smooth as silk. I was clubbed (prop "un-feelables") and then revived with a bucket of water (warm) and sent home before lunch.
Emil's diary for Thursday, December 16, 1948:
AI wasn't due at Darmour Studio till noon, but as always, I tried to be early - & was.
My last scene with the Stooges in their short-comedy didn't come off till last, absolutely last of the day. And again, as always, it went off smoothly, swiftly and to Jules White's satisfaction.
I was happy -- not only because (my youngest son) is two years old today -- but because of everything as it turned out just before a forthcoming dismal Christmas time.
This was Emil's last movie job in 1948, and it obviously helped the Sitka family get through the holidays. Despite the hardship, several days later, Emil's diary for Monday, December 20, 1948, included the following:
Almost everybody I befriended at Columbia Studios gets a gift from us this year -- small as some may be! Jules White, the beautiful pants-presser I received for a gift & saved; Ed Bernds a box of See's candy; Hugh McCollum a carton of cigarettes...
Two days later, as Christmas and New Years Day approached, it was Emil's birthday, and he wrote in his diary for Wednesday, December 22, 1948:
I am 34 years old today - wowie! I can't imagine where the years have gone. Am I an adult now?
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THREE HAMS ON RYE (1950)