Wyoming in 1871 and the Old West is as wild as ever. In the small town of Casper, Trigger Mortis (Mort Mills), the chief henchman of local crime boss Rance Roden, arrives at the local gambling establishment to make sure they pay up with their protection money, but Roden has bigger plans ahead. Although he is at the head of a countrywide syndicate including villains like Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok, he instigates the killing of the buffalo herds to incense the Indian population to an uprising, meaning he can comfortably take over. But he reckons without four employees of the American wildlife protection league who are alerted to the buffalo crisis...
Well, this was it: the end of the line. The Three Stooges had seen many changes over the years, and by 1965 when this, their final film, was made Curly was long gone with his place currently taken by Curly Joe DeRita. Moe Howard and Larry Fine were still present and correct, but by now the slapstick violence handed out to each other had been toned down, with only the occasional clonk on the head or punch to the belly (accompanied by the sound of timpani, naturally) to remind us of their glory years. The trio were still popular with kids and nostalgic adults, so this comedy western was to be their swan song, with their last film lying uncompleted.
You couldn't really say that The Outlaws is Coming, scripted by Ellwood Ullman from director Norman Maurer's story, sees the troupe at their best because they look a little tired and the inspiration is lacking, with the humour falling back on anachronistic pop culture references to the Beatles (guess what the Ringo Kid is seen doing? Nope, not drumming, playing guitar to the swoons of offscreen girls), Dr Kildare and a promise made to the rogue's gallery that they'll be rewarded with a television series if they reform. We initially see the Stooges in a Boston office as they try to prompt a skunk into posing for a photograph, which is just an excuse for a bit of business with the conservationists' printing press and the flash powder.
Their editor is Kenneth Cabot (a pre-BatmanAdam West), who is almost as bungling as they are, although more even-tempered. All four are sent off to Wyoming by their exasperated boss (regular Stooge support Emil Sitka, in one of three roles), and when they arrive in Casper, they are downhearted to see the graves of the previous sheriffs, each corresponding to a day of this week. Still, they're here to save the buffalo, but the green message is pretty much thrown away in the cause of only mildly amusing routines by the stars. In fact, the Stooges have almost no purpose in the plot of their own film until the last half of the movie.
Cabot is mistaken for a champion gunslinger by the townsfolk and Trigger Mortis (a great name!) because he appears to shoot the gun in Trigger's hand. What has really happened is that an unseen Annie Oakley (Nancy Kovack) - this film is nothing if not unhistorical - does his shooting for him after taking a liking to the big galoot. And so the theme emreges where Cabot and the Stooges, all avowed cowards, find their courage and prove themselves to be worthy of the Wild West. Mixed in is a plot where Roden sells a sort of tank to the Indians (including Henry Gibson as the hip talking chief's son) and his efforts to kill off Cabot, which the Stooges foil with glue. Throw in a catfight and custard pies, and the result is a watchable but not entirely worthy last stand by a famed comedy trio. Well, a famed comedy duo and Curly Joe. Music by Paul Dunlap.