Sony // 1946 // 432 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // March 17th, 2009
"Eeenie, meenie, minee, moe. See, you can't go wrong with Moe!"
-- Curly Howard, "Three Little Pirates" (1946)
The final Stooges shorts starring Curly Howard make it onto DVD, clearing the way for Shemp, Joe Besser and (gasp) Curly-Joe.
The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Five collects 25 more slapstick shorts made between 1946 and 1948. These were the last films to star Curly, who suffered a stroke on the set of "Half-Wits Holiday." He was replaced by original Stooge Shemp Howard, though did return to make a cameo appearance in "Hold That Lion."
Here are the films contained in Volume Five:
* "Beer Barrel Polecats"
The boys begin brewing their own beer, but Prohibition puts the bite on their plans and the Stooges wind up behind bars.
* "A Bird in the Head"
A mad scientist determines that Curly's incredibly small brain makes him the perfect donor for an experiment involving a pet gorilla.
* "Uncivil Warbirds"
The boys are forced to leave their fiancees behind when they sign up for service in the Civil War, but wind up on different sides of the battlefield.
* "Three Troubledoers"
Curly plays sheriff and has to step up when a villain kidnaps the father of a beautiful girl and demands her hand in marriage.
* "Monkey Businessmen"
The Stooges take a break from their job as electricians and check into a hospital for some much needed rest.
* "Three Loan Wolves"
The boys are tricked into taking care of a baby.
* "G.I. Wanna Go Home"
Moe, Larry and Curly return from serving in the war, only to discover their fiancees have kicked them out.
* "Rhythm and Weep"
The boys are ready to quit show biz until they meet some ladies that inspire them to give it one more shot.
* "Three Little Pirates"
Curly gets the Stooges in trouble when he makes a move on the fiancee of the governor of Dead Man's Island.
* "Half-Wits Holiday"
The boys go to great lengths to join high society. This short, a remake of "Hoi Polloi," marks Curly's last starring role in a Stooges short.
* "Fright Night"
Original Stooge Shemp returns to the group for this short in which the boys play boxing trainers with a plan to fix the big fight.
* "Out West"
The boys run into trouble during a vacation to the West.
* "Hold That Lion"
Larry, Moe and Shemp try and track down the person that conned them while taking a train trip. Curly returned to play a small role in this short, the last Stooges film he would ever appear in.
* "Brideless Groom"
Shemp becomes the hottest bachelor in town when comes into a huge sum of money, provided he can be married by 6 p.m.
* "Sing a Song of Six Pants"
The boys play tailors out to catch a bank robber and collect the reward.
* "All Gummed Up"
Shemp invents a youth potion that actually works, and the boys are offered a drugstore in exchange for their discovery.
* "Shivering Sherlocks"
Moe, Larry and Shemp are picked up as suspects in a robbery, then come face to face with the criminal who actually did the deed.
* "Pardon My Clutch"
A Hollywood agent tries to buy the boys' car after both it and Shemp have a breakdown.
* "Squareheads of the Round Table"
The Stooges are enlisted to save a blacksmith from a death sentence.
* "Fiddlers Three"
The boys are charged with rescuing a princess from the clutches of an evil magician.
* "The Hot Scots"
The Stooges go Scottish when they play would-be detectives hired to guard a haunted castle.
* "Heavenly Daze"
Shemp dies (finally!) and comes back to Earth as an angel charged with stopping Larry and Moe from ripping someone off.
* "I'm a Monkey's Uncle"
The boys play cavemen out to woo cavewomen, much to the chagrin of their cave-boyfriends.
* "Mummy's Dummies"
The boys play ancient Egyptians running a used chariot lot and run into trouble when they sell a bum ride to the palace guard.
* "Crime on Their Hands"
Shemp accidentally ingests a priceless diamond, and a notorious jewel thief sets out to get his hands on it -- by any means necessary.
There are two kinds of people in the world: people who love The Three Stooges, and people who don't. One group doesn't understand the other. So it has been, so it shall be.
The Stooges all but define what it means to be critic-proof. A debate as to whether or not they are funny is a waste of time; either you appreciate them or you do not. They are the masters of literal slapstick, demonstrating with every eye-gouge and nose-twist that pain can be funny. Though they could be written off as lowbrow -- and theirs is the basest of comedy -- one has to recognize that they elevate lowbrow laughs to the level of high art.
That's about as much dissection as I care to afford The Stooges. I love them. I think they're hilarious. I can't wait to raise my son on them the same way I grew up watching them on Saturday afternoon TV. Anyone who doesn't appreciate them has little business buying, watching or even reading a review of this, the fifth volume in a collection. If you don't like The Stooges, you'd have been better off giving up four volumes ago.
Sony has done a bang-up job of issuing these mini-masterpieces of comic violence in chronological order (you don't have to take my word for it; just go back and read DVD Verdict's glowing reviews of the previous four releases). Here, they've included 25 (25!) shorts, spread out over two discs. The films look nearly flawless, making them the best versions of any Stooge films we've seen. The mono audio track is faithful without being muddy. Technically, there are no complaints to be had with these discs.
If I have any issue with The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Five, it's entirely one of preference. I am not really a Shemp fan, so it's sad to see him step in and take over about halfway through the set. At the same time, it makes Vol. 5 all the more necessary, as it completes the run of films starring Curly Howard. If you've been collecting these releases so far, you could conceivably quit after this set. The Stooges were never the same.
That's not to say that the films starring Shemp aren't any good; they're just not as good. Others may disagree with me. They're the Shemp-lovers. And, let's face it: the Shemp shorts are still vastly superior to what would follow when Joe Besser and, later, Curly-Joe DeRita joined the group.
Sony continues an incredible job giving The Three Stooges the treatment they deserve, making Volume Five a must-have for any self-respecting Stooge fan. Even the ones that don't respect themselves ought to pick this set up. They're the Shemp-lovers.
Review content copyright © 2009 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 432 Minutes
Release Year: 1946
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Wikipedia: The Three Stooges