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Case Number 14371

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The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Three (1940-42)

Sony // 1940 // 396 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // August 26th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Christopher Kulik is a stooge at heart.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Three Stooges Collection: Volume One (1934-36) (published November 26th, 2007), The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Five (1946-48) (published March 17th, 2009), The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Four (1943-45) (published October 7th, 2008), The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Six (1949-51) (published June 26th, 2009), and The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Two (1937-39) (published July 2nd, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

Any resemblance between the characters in these pictures and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle!

Opening Statement

Curly: My father died dancing…on the end of a rope! Nyuk, nyuk!!!

Facts of the Case

Sony continues to release all the original Stooge shorts in order to the satisfaction of many fans. Volume Three contains 23 films released from 1940-1942 on two discs:

Disc One
• "You Nazty Spy!"—Moe is offered to be dictator of Moronica, with Larry and Curly as his dumbbell aides. One of the Stooges' most famous shorts is highlighted by Moe's Hitler-like mugging (sans mustache?).(4/5)
• "Rockin' Through The Rockies"—For the past five months, the Stooges have been working as bodyguards for Nell's Belles. Now stuck somewhere in the Rockies, they all must contend with scalpin' Indians.(3/5)
• "A Plumbing We Will Go"—The Stooges barely escape jail for the second time (always a close shave!) due to their inability to be law-abiding citizens. Somehow, they end up plumbers in a wealthy family's home and wreaking waves of havoc.(5/5)
• "Nutty but Nice"—Restaurant entertainers Moe, Larry, and Curly are called upon to cheer up little Betty, whose father was recently kidnapped. When their "Lollypop" anthem doesn't work, they are determined to find him by yodeling all over town.(4/5)
"How High Is Up?"—Now working as "minute menders," the Stooges' illegal business practices force them to hide as riveters…on the 97th floor of an incomplete skyscraper.(4/5)
• "From Nurse to Worse"—An acquaintance offers the Stooges a chance to make a butt-load of money: buying insurance through him, and then declare one of them as insane. Curly is the unanimous choice, as they use his doggish demeanor to make the claim.(4/5)
• "No Census, No Feeling"—The Stooges have been having a bad year running from the law, and here is no exception. Luckily, they become census takers ("Are you married or happy?"), drink alum punch while playing bridge, and compromising a football game! One of the best shorts on this set.(5/5)
• "Cookoo Cavaliers"—With their fish business going nowhere, Moe, Larry, and Curly decide to try their luck opening up a salon south of the border. Their first client: a man who wants to turn four Senoritas into blondes.(2/5)
• "Boobs in Arms"—Now working as greeting card vendors, the Stooges make a fool out of a disgruntled husband twice in one day. Imagine their surprise when, after joining the U.S. Army, the same man happens to be their drill sergeant!(5/5)
• "So Long, Mr. Chumps"—When the Stooges come across a cache of oil bonds, they be honest citizens and return them to the rightful owner. Their reward is an unusual one: find an honest man with "executive ability" and win $5000. The search lands them in prison, however, when they promise a young wife to free her innocent husband.(3/5)
• "Dutiful but Dumb"—Wacky photographers Moe, Larry, and Curly are sent to the kingdom of Vulgaria…where it's illegal to own cameras. Moronic short has one or two good laughs, but ends up being hopelessly uneven and pointless.(1/5)
• "All the World's A Stooge"—Seminal stooge short has the three window washers doing some painful dental surgery. Later, they pretend to be refugees to a wealthy wife…but end up infuriating the husband!(5/5)
• "I'll Never Heil Again"—Semi-sequel to "You Nazty Spy!" has Moe returning as dictator of Moronica (now complete with small mustache), and prepared to take over the world. However, former King Herman 6-7/8 wants his country back, and sends his daughter to give them a hidden explosive. Hilarious short, filled with visual gags, actually surpasses its predecessor.(5/5)

Disc Two
• "An Ache in Every Stake"—Ice deliverymen Moe, Larry, and Curly agree to help a woman prepare a birthday meal for her upset husband. Curly promises it will be the talk of the county, and he's no doubt right. Highlight: Curly "shaving" some ice. (4/5)
• "In The Sweet Pie and Pie"—Three girls in a jam take their lawyer's advice and marry three convicts on Death Row to collect a multi-million inheritance. When the convicts are pardoned the next day, they go to their new home. But the girls are so desperate to get rid of them they insist they become society gentleman (sound familiar?).(4/5)
• "Some More of Samoa"—The Stooges are now working as tree surgeons and are no doubt the only ones in the country. A cranky old man calls upon their help to examine a dying Puckerless Persimmon, also the only one in the country. Insisting the tree needs to pucker up via a mate, the trio travels to the isle of Rhum Boogie to get a new specimen but run afoul of the cannibalistic natives.(5/5)
• "Loco Boy Makes Good"—Booted out for being eight months behind in rent, the Stooges plan to falsely sue another hotel owner. Their first target is a sweet old lady who's threatened with repossession; as compensation, the Stooges offer to renovate the place to improve business.(4/5)
• "Cactus Makes Perfect"—Using Curly's "useless" invention (a gold collar button retriever), all three set out in the desert to find a lost mine full of gold. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with a couple of armed prospectors. Co-screenwriter Monte Collins excels beautifully as "Ma Stooge."(5/5)
• "What's The Matador?"—Once again heading south of the border, the Stooges must put on a bull show, but their suitcase is accidentally taken by a jealous husband.(3/5)
• "Matri-Phony"—During the Roman Empire (?), the Stooges are pottery salesman who agree to hide a redhead from the evil Emperor Octopus Grabus.(2/5)
• "Three Smart Saps"—The Stooges can't wait to get married to their girlfriends, but there's a huge problem. The girls' father, who usually works as the prison warden, has been thrown in jail by a crooked crook that is now using the jailhouse as a party palace of debauchery. Moe, Larry, and Curly come to the rescue, but decide to have some fun first.(5/5)
• "Even As IOU"—On the run once again, the Stooges must find a way to help a starving mother and little girl, who recently lost their house. A rare short that starts out very funny, but then becomes lost when the boys find themselves playing the ponies.(3/5)
• "Sock-A-Bye Baby"—A mother leaves a baby on the Stooges' doorstep, forcing them to take on fatherly duties. A semi-remake of "Mutts To You," (without the mutts), this short has early echoes of Three Men And A Baby.(4/5)

The Evidence

The Stooges joined Columbia in 1934; six years later, they're at their paramount. Since their comedy became an enjoyable antidote to the rising reality of war and Nazism, someone got the ingenious idea of turning our favorite bully Moe into Adolf Hitler. Released several months before Charles Chaplin's masterpiece The Great Dictator, "You Nazty Spy!" is credited as the very first time Hitler was played/parodied on the screen. Curly got to spoof Hermann Goering (as Field Marshal Herring) and Larry did a limping impersonation of Joseph Goebbels (as the Minister of Propaganda).

Both Moe and Larry considered "You Nazty Spy!" as their all-time favorite short. It's not surprising then that a follow-up (of sorts) would come along in 1941 as "I'll Never Heil Again." Even though Moe Hailstone and his two cohorts were eaten by lions at the end of the first film, their antics continue as they intend on taking over all lands outside of Moronica, including the island nation of Great Mitten. This short also contains one of Moe's best lines; after Curly rips off his mustache, Moe demands, "Give me back my personality." While both of these Nazi spoofs are worthy, the second one gets my vote as the superior one, largely because of the visual gags, which I won't dare reveal here.

Much of the rest of the shorts in this compilation feature one common element: the Stooges running from the law. Because of their vagrant hijinks, they usually would end up being chased by a police officer…and, more often than not, the cop was played by Bud Jamison, one of the regular co-stars. "A Plumbing We Will Go" is a perfect example, as they wind up in a house pretending to be plumbers in order to avoid prison; naturally, they know nothing about the profession. This is one of my absolute favorite shorts simply because it has one of the greatest visual jokes ever conceived and executed; if anything, it will make you think twice about going to see Niagara Falls.

Like Volume Two, this set has very few missteps. "How High is Up?" is another fondly remembered short, with Larry cooking rivets and wieners on a BBQ grill. "No Census, No Feeling" has an amazing three-act structure which pays off in spades, and "Boobs in Arms" was the first army comedy to be made in Hollywood after WW2 had started. This short has the justly famous basic training sequence, in which Moe, Larry, and Curly play "hippity hop at the barber shop," much to the dismay of their drill sergeant, who really wants to kill them. In a sad bit of irony, Richard Fiske (who plays the D.I.) was drafted soon after and was killed in action in 1944.

Also noted as a Stooge favorite is "All the World's a Stooge," in which the boys pretend to be refugees (orphaned kids). Richard Fiske (who did 12 shorts with the boys), appears here again as a pissed-off dentist, and Curly's "mammy" intro is a riot. "An Ache in Every Stake" has a memorable cooking scene, and "In The Sweet Pie and Pie" has one of the longest-running pie fights ever devoted to a Stooge short. Just one question: what was Larry doing in the suit of armor?

Sony's treatment of these priceless shorts is triumphant…for the most part. After delivering superb full frame transfers for Volumes 1 & 2, there are several films here which have their own isolated problems. "You Nazty Spy!" is the worst offender, with the black-and-white picture tinting itself to green once in awhile; some of the stock footage of later shorts is crudely inserted, though that's not entirely Sony's fault. I'm getting worried that the studio maybe rushing themselves on later collections, as the next one is due out in early October! The mono tracks are splendid again, retaining the "three blind mice" overtures and occasional musical numbers marvelously. No extras, once again.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Be prepared for footage recycled from older shorts. Thankfully, there are only two shorts here which are found guilty of this: "From Nurse to Worse" features the exact same hospital escape from "Dizzy Doctors," and "In the Sweet Pie and Pie" shamefully reuses the dance scene from "Hoi Polloi" with Geneva Mitchell (who by now was retired due to ill health). The Curly era would largely avoid this practice until he himself had his first stroke several years later, in which his energy had obviously been minimized.

The missteps on this set include "Cookoo Cavaliers," "Dutiful but Dumb," "Matri-Phony" and "Even as IOU." Of the two "south-of-the-border" comedies, "What's the Matador?" is way better than "Cookoo," which has few laughs and even fewer physical gags. Still, none are as bad as "Dutiful but Dumb" which reminded me of the equally painful (and strikingly similar) short "Saved by the Belle" (from Volume 2). "Matri-Phony" has its moments; still, like most of the period pieces, this one just feels too forced and protracted.

Closing Statement

While I'm getting a little nervous over Sony's handling of the shorts—considering the look of "You Nazty Spy!"—they are still delivering the goods. Aside from "Spy," all of the shorts look as if they were fully restored; to fans, that's all that really matters.

The Verdict

Sony and the Stooges are found not guilty. Soitenly!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 94
Audio: 98
Extras: 0
Acting: 100
Story: 90
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 396 Minutes
Release Year: 1940
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Classic
• Comedy
• Short Films

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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