Flagpole Jitters is a 1956 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). It is the 169th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
The Stooges are three paperhangers who also look after invalid Mary, who uses a wheelchair. While working, they are taken by one poster that advertises a great hypnotist, Svengarlic ("He'll steal your breath away!" the poster announces). The Stooges want the hypnotist to work his magic on Mary so that she can walk again, but Svengarlic is more interested in winning an audience to create a diversion by hypnotizing the Stooges.
While the audience watches the Stooges dance on an overhead flagpole, Svengarlic's henchmen are in the process of robbing a jewelry store. But a distracted bicyclist knocks Svengarlic over and the Stooges are abruptly awakened. They immediately panic when they see where they are, then the flagpole breaks, sending them flying through the open window of the store being robbed, thwarting the theft.
Flagpole Jitters is a remake of 1949's Hokus Pokus using ample stock footage from the original. The films have different endings: Mary is actually paraplegic here, whereas in the original she was a fraud. In Flagpole Jitters, Svengarlic is the fraud.
The Stooges make a reference to Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in which Shemp believes he has hypnotized Moe into thinking he is locked up in the infamous prison.
The character name Svengarlic is a parody of Svengali, the name of a fictional character in George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby.
Flagpole Jitters was the last short produced that included new footage of Shemp Howard. For Crimin' Out Loud is commonly thought to be the last film featuring new footage of Shemp. However, the new footage used in For Crimin' Out Loud was filmed on June 30, 1955: Flagpole Jitters was filmed the next day on July 1. Shemp died on November 22, 1955, before any new films were produced.
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