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"This'll be worth a fortune after I'm gone." "I should kill you now and find out!" - Curly and Harry Semels (WEE WEE MONSIEUR, 1938)

Bookmark and Share THE BIG IDEA

Average Rating:     [4.67/10]   12 votes


Ted Healy is the President (and sole employee) of "Big Ideas Theatrical Productions" in Hollywood. Desparately trying to come up with the "big idea" for a new picture, Healy is constantly interrupted by a stream of intruders using his office as a shortcut, a cleaning woman who uses his office as a dumpster, and three musicians who march in to play a tune every few minutes.

THE BIG IDEA was produced to find a home for MGM footage cut from earlier feature film productions, in this case, the scenes of the Three Radio Rogues and the MGM Dancing Girls.  The musical number with Tut Mace and the MGM Dancing Girls performing That's the Rhythm of the Day is an outtake from DANCING LADY (1933), and the Three Radio Rogues' performance was filmed for, but not used in, the MGM feature GOING HOLLYWOOD (1933) starring Bing Crosby.

IMDb Rating


Ted Healy and His Stooges
Release Date
May 12, 1934
Production Type
Short Subject
19.25 min.
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Prod. No.:   628

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Fan Reviews   (10)
Posted 2010-07-15 11:47:28 by Final Shemp
What's The Big Idea? I don't know. I just watched it and I can't tell. The Big Idea has no idea.
The Big Idea could so easily be a satire of Hollywood production and screenwriting, but goes the cheap and simple route. The short seems content on delivering sentence fragments and random gags. Ted Healy talks too fast without delivering a gag, and Bonnie Bonnell is simply horrible in what could have been a funny role. Even the Stooges are wasted in this short, and come in once every few minutes to play a musical instrument and squirt Healy in the face.
It's random gags like this that make up most of The Big Idea. The Stooges get a decent routine at the end of the short, but it can't be saved at this point. In the meantime, it "treats" us to a tedious sequence of radio routine and a pretty, but monotonous musical number.
Final Shemp's Final Word: 1/2 of a Poke

Reviewer's Rating: (1)
Posted 2009-12-20 00:48:06 by falsealarms
Not that bad. Healy, who is largely independent of the Stooges in this short, is better than usual. He almost seems better off without the Stooges, just as the Stooges were better off without him. The intruder that comes in and shoots at someone through the office window was a nice bit.

Reviewer's Rating: (6)
Posted 2009-06-02 03:19:30 by archiezappa
This film is not bad. Ted Healy carries the first part of the short just talking to himself. He's funny like that. Then, Bonnie enters and acts like she's had about a case and a half of beer. In fact, it appears that she's been drinking more than Ted before the filming began. Weird, huh? Then, we get Howard, Fine and Howard. Their running gag is hilarious! The Three Stooges really work independently of Ted in this film. They're in the film with him, but they're now outsiders looking in. In fact, Larry actually names Moe as the leader of the trio. This is significant, since their next short subject ("Woman Haters") would be without Ted. It's almost as if they knew this.There is very little stock footage in this short, thankfully. We get a segment of The Radio Rogues. They're pretty good. Okay, they're not bad, but still. At least it's not like some of the garbage that permeated "Nertsery Rhymes." Also, The Radio Rogues went on to star in three short subjects at Columbia. The other segment of stock footage is, of course, The MGM Dancing Girls. This segment, though brief, is way better than most stock footage of this nature. Namely, the segments in the other MGM shorts starring our boys. It focuses on one girl, with the other girls in the background. All I can say is that it's too bad that this short wasn't in Technicolor. Overall, this is a pretty good film. It's surreal. And it also marks the end of an era.
Posted 2006-09-20 21:33:17 by benjilbum
Very dull film, until The Stooges bring it to life at the ending where they are allowed to be themselves. Its no wonder Healy's life took a nose-dive when he lost the boys. He didnt have a whole lot going for himself without them. Just consider the 3 schmucks he replaced them with when they got smart and left him for good.
Still I love watching these early efforts for the historical value of them alone. Watching the boys evolving into The Stooges to me is facinating, and I collect these MGM films for mainly that reason.
Posted 2004-01-03 22:03:00 by [Deleted Member]
Edited 2004-01-05 22:29:00 by [Deleted Member]
That first imitation by the Radio Rogues is of bandleader Ben Bernie, a big star in the early days of radio"" the tipoff is the "Yowsuh!," which was a signature word of his. The guy who does all the voices in the Amos & Andy sketch is pretty impressive; too bad the sketch itself isn't nearly as funny as anything by the real Amos & Andy.Which brings me to the problem I have with this short: [b]why[/b] doesn't it work? It has all the right ingredients to have been a great surreal-screwball comedy film like "Men In Black" or "The Fatal Glass of Beer," but it falls flat, for the most part. Maybe it's that the gags aren't developed too well. For example, the routine with the Stooges and the squirting musical instruments would have been funnier if there'd been some setup for it, like maybe Ted calling up a talent agency and asking them to "Send over three instruments." Then, when the Stooges show up, spray him, and leave, he calls again and asks for "Three different instruments." So the [i]same[/i] musicians come back, only with different instruments (like they do in the short), and spray him again. That would have made a better running gag, I think, than just having them keep walking into Ted's office with no explanation.The dance routine"" mercifully brief for one in an MGM short"" seems to have been visually influenced by the Moloch scenes in Fritz Lang's silent classic "Metropolis," which came out a few years earlier. By the way, I'll throw in a plug here for the recently released Kino Video version of "Metropolis," which restores as much missing footage as they could find, and also the original orchestral score. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00007L4MJ/qid=1073185495/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8790697-0953542?v=glance&s=dvdWhatever you do, [b]don't[/b] buy that abominable [i]disco[/i] version that was made in the 70's or 80's! I didn't see it in Amazon's DVD listings, and it's out of stock in VHS, so maybe it's out of print (and good riddance)."The Big Idea" is definitely worth watching for historical reasons, but it comes off to me as a missed opportunity that could have been much funnier if the director and the writers had worked it out a little more carefully. [2.0pokes]
Posted 2003-02-24 13:01:00 by Stooge
This doesn't get good until the end, when the boys are finally allowed to be themselves. Too much Healy by himself, another dreaded musical, and the boys being wasted in a mime-like role.

Reviewer's Rating: (1)
Posted 2003-02-18 04:31:00 by Bruckman
Weakest of the Healy/Stooges MGM shorts. The Stooges are limited to a running gag for most of the film; they don't even speak until the closing scenes, so one's appreciation for this film is likely to be determined by how much one cares for Healy solo. The running gag w/instruments and water spraying is fair and has a nice absurd feel to it, but there just isn't enough interaction between Healy and the Stooges to bring this up to the level of the other MGMs. Perhaps this was due to the increased tensions between Healy and the Stooges, leading to their striking off on their own not long after. As it is, it seems curious that the vaudeville-like fast patter and knockabout of the earlier MGMs would be abandoned here for silent pantomime; the real patter here comes between Healy and Bonnell. Some bizarre musical numbers. What's with that one woman with the cymbals on her hands who looks like the radiator cap from a 34 DeSoto?

Reviewer's Rating: (5)
Posted 2002-06-30 14:28:00 by Dunrobin
I saw this together with "Plane Nuts" on TCM, which was definitely better than this short. Still, it was amusing, and it's cool to have it in my collection now.

Reviewer's Rating: (6)
Posted 2001-08-30 03:44:00 by [Deleted Member]
It's not all that bad. I enjoyed this film more than any Stooges/Healy film I've seen where Healy hogs the screen time. Healy was kind of funny, and the Stooges were great in their unique performances. I've been humming that fanfare music since the first time I saw this film. Magnifique, although the dance sequences are boring as always.ISLIPP- you SKIPP. ©2001
Posted 2001-08-08 21:19:00 by Mike Holme
This short was bad because the stooges are in 20% of this, the scenes with them are good, but there are not enough scenes with them, and too many scenes with Healy and musical numbers. Grade: D

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