Sony // 2001 // 331 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 20th, 2002
Three of the gooniest goofballs in cinematic history come home in 19 classic comedy sketches that will make you want to hit your best friend on the head with a wrench!
Are there any comedians as polarizing as the Larry, Moe, and Curly (and Shemp)? With their rubber faces and silly antics, it's a scientific fact that the Three Stooges are the kind of thing that men love and women abhor. (There's no arguing this fact -- scientists have pie charts and bar graphs to back up my statement) Okay, so there are a few women out there who like the Stooges, but they all live in Russia and only eat bread and vodka. The fact is, the Three Stooges are a man-made phenomenon that cling to a guy's lowest common form of humor: the old hammer on the noggin' gag. The Three Stooges are now officially a classic piece of movie history that have made countless generations chuckle. Who among you doesn't laugh at the sight of Curley slapping his face while exclaiming in an exuberant cry, "woo-woo-woo-woo-woo!"? For fans who have waited anxiously for the Stooges on DVD, I have good news in the form of Columbia TriStar's The Three Stooges Collection, a three disc set that should please those looking for a good poke in the eye.
This three-disc collection complies 19 of The Three Stooges best films and shorts. (Descriptions as listed on DVD cases):
Disc One: Curly's Classics
* "A Plumbing We Will Go" (1940)
When the Three Stooges pose as plumbers to elude the police, the ineptness overflows and they almost destroy a mansion, leaving everyone with that sinking feeling. Dudley Dickerson's battle in the kitchen is a classic
* "Men In Black" (1934)
Medical malpractice is an understatement when describing what the Stooges do to the Los Arms Hospital, where they dispense unorthodox advice, flirt with the nurses and battle a babbling intercom system.
* "Micro-Phonies" (1945)
When Curly is mistaken for an opera diva, the Stooges find their calling on the stage as Senorita Cucaracha (Curly) and Seniors Mucho and Gusto (Larry and Moe).
* "Punch Drunks" (1934)
Larry's rendition of "Pop Goes The Weasel" transforms Curly from a harmless cream puss into a vicious contender, but when Larry's violin breaks, it threatens Curly's boxing career with a TKO.
* "Three Little Pigskins" (1934)
When the Stooges are mistaken for star football players, they not only find themselves running for goals, but running for their lives when they get mixed up with the gorgeous girlfriends of a group of mobsters!
* "Women Haters" (1934)
When Larry breaks his oath to the Women Haters Club by marrying, he is treated like a traitor by his fellow members. But getting out of the marriage may be even more harmful the anything his friends could ever do to him. The Stooges' first short was done entirely in rhyme.
Disc Two: All The World's A Stooge
* "Grips, Grunts, and Groans" (1937)
The Three Stooges face a potential bout wit disaster when the wrestler they're supposed to watch over gets too drunk to fight!
* "All The World's A Stooge" (1941)
A millionaire disguises the Three Stooges as children and brings them home to convince his wife not to adopt.
* "3 Dumb Clucks" (1937)
"'Till death do us part" takes on a new meaning as the Three Stooges try to prevent their father from marrying a gold-digging young floozy whose friends plan to kill him after the wedding.
* "Three Little Pirates" (1946)
In order to walk the plank to freedom, the shipwrecked Stooges must escape from the governor of Dead Man's Island and survive Black Louie's Pirate Den.
* "Uncivil War Birds"(1946)
As Civil War breaks out, the Stooges decide to join the army, but the battle lines are redrawn when Moe and Larry join the union and Curly enlists with the Confederates.
* "Back To The Woods" (1937)
The threat of the white man is nothing compared to what happens when the Indians come face to paleface with the Three Stooges.
* "Violent Is The Word For Curly" (1938)
When gas station attendants Larry, Moe, and Curly put a little too much super in "super service," they hide out at Mildew College for Women, where they teach the student body how to swing!
Disc Three: Spook Louder
* "Spook Louder" (1943)
Traveling salesmen The Three Stooges meet their toughest customers when an inventor hires them to guard his spooky home while he is away. Things get really grim when three spies disguised as monsters show up!
* "Mummy's Dummies" (1948)
The Smiling Egyptians is a used-chariot lot run by the Stooges in ancient Egypt. Business is booming until they make the mistake of selling a lemon to a chief of the palace guard, which lands them in hot water with the king.
* "Shivering Sherlocks" (1947)
When an armored car robber strikes, the Stooges are rounded up for interrogation. A cafe owner vouches for them and they are freed, but it isn't long before they come face to face with the bloodthirsty robber and his hatchet man!
* "The Ghost Talks" (1949)
The Stooges have a job to do, but it isn't going to be easy. Their job is to remove a suit of armor from the Smorgasbord Castle. The problem? The armor doesn't want to leave until the ghost of Lady Godiva returns from their rendezvous!
* "Hokus Pokus" (1949)
A beautiful con artist uses Moe, Larry and Shemp as character references in her scheme to defraud an insurance company. But when a famed hypnotist casts a spell on the Stooges, no one can insure what happens next!
* "Fright Night" (1947)
In Shemp's first short as a member of the Stooges, the three are trainers at Muscle Manor, a macho gym for boxers. When a gangster threatens them, they use cream puffs -- including a live one! -- to soften their champ up for losing!
I think that this is going to be the hardest review I've ever written. How does one critique the Three Stooges? You either like them or you don't. Period, end of discussion. While each of their films varies in quality, the basic idea behind each short is that if you hit your buddy on the head hard and loud enough, you're gonna get a laugh. This is the premise of each Stooges short, and if you like 'em, then it works like magic each time. If you hate 'em, this is your own personal purgatory.
I love the Stooges. When I was a kid, there were certain TV shows that I can vividly remember watching: Alice, Three's Company, The Addams Family and, of course, The Three Stooges. Not surprisingly, the Three Stooges fit snuggly into a child's idea of entertainment -- after all, the Stooges are really just cartoons set in the real world. Like Daffy Duck or Tom and Jerry, the Stooges often had safes dropped on their heads, pliers twisted on their noses, or fingers poked in their eyes. Needless to say, the bulk of the Stooges comedy came mainly from slapstick antics.
All three of the Stooges are very well known. Moe was the scowling, bowl-headed leader of the group. Larry was the nerdy clown-like fuss bucket. Curly was...well, Curly. Ya gotta love a guy whose trademark saying was "N'yuck, n'yuck, n'yuck!" After Curly suffered a stroke in 1946, Shemp came onboard to take over his role. While Shemp was funny enough (he, Moe, and Curly were brothers), it just wasn't the same without good old Curly. Oddly enough, while Curly is more well known than Shemp, the truth is that Shemp was the original Stooge before stepping aside for Curly to come on board.
Each of these 19 episodes are funny in their own way. Some of them are better than others, but each displays the unique brand of humor that the Stooges are known and loved for. Personally, I enjoyed watching the funny rhyming of "Woman Haters," a short that was done entirely with poetry. Other episodes, including "Uncivil War Birds" and "Spook Louder," feature typical Stooge gags that gave me the giggles: in "Spook Louder," Moe, Larry, and Curly attempt to sell a bafflingly thin and tall woman a vac-o-suck machine that takes off ten pounds (when the woman exclaims "Are you kidding?," Moe quips back, "Or puts on ten pounds!").
You're either going to buy these discs or you're not. You know who you are. For those who love the Stooges (and if you're still reading this review I assume you're in that category), this is a great way to start collecting the misadventures of Larry, Moe, and Curly on DVD.
All 19 films on the three The Three Stooges Collection discs are featured in their original 1.33:1 full frame versions in black and white. Sadly, most all of these transfers are in pretty poor shape. Each film displays a ton of dirt, grain, scratches, and lines running through the images. Just like I remember them from my childhood days, these Stooges transfers look about as old as time itself (some of the later films look slightly better than the older ones, but not by much). I am not sure if we can really blame Columbia for the shoddy quality of these discs or not. However (and it's rare that I say this), the fact is that the nicks and imperfections almost add to the nostalgic feel of these movies.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The mono soundtrack mix is exactly what you'd expect: flat and lifeless. While these are all very unexciting mixes, the fact remains that the source materials are so old and dated that Columbia really couldn't do a whole lot with them to begin with. Pops and crackles appear at times, and some of the dialogue sounds a bit distorted. However, every bonk on the head comes in crystal clear, and for this reviewer that's all that matters. Also included on these discs are some subtitles in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
For those looking for insightful, historical supplements about The Three Stooges, you're going to have to keep on looking. The only "extra features" available on these discs are some pretty paltry production notes on the inside of the DVD cases. Why I oughta...
The transfers are poor, the audio mediocre at best, and there's no special features anywhere to be found on these discs. Even with all those negatives, I still have to recommend this set to Stooge fans everywhere. Comedy doesn't come any more classic (or painful!) than this!
The Three Stooges Collection is free to go due to the fact that life ain't any fun if you aren't watching someone get whacked over the head with a rolling pin. Now, if we can just get Alice on DVD...until then, you can just kiss my grits!
Review content copyright © 2002 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 331 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Production Notes