Our reviews of The Three Stooges: Cops And Robbers (published September 26th, 2002), The Three Stooges: G.I. Stooge (published November 14th, 2002), The Three Stooges: Hapless Half-Wits (published February 16th, 2007), The Three Stooges In Orbit (published December 17th, 2003), The Three Stooges: Stooges On The Run (published October 10th, 2006), and The Three Stooges: Stop! Look! And Laugh! (published April 25th, 2003) are also available.
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.
Facts of the Case
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)
• "Men In Black" (1934)
• "Micro-Phonies" (1945)
• "Punch Drunks" (1934)
• "Three Little Pigskins" (1934)
• "Women Haters" (1934)
Disc Two: All The World's A Stooge
• "Grips, Grunts, and Groans" (1937)
• "All The World's A Stooge" (1941)
• "3 Dumb Clucks" (1937)
• "Three Little Pirates" (1946)
• "Uncivil War Birds"(1946)
• "Back To The Woods" (1937)
• "Violent Is The Word For Curly" (1938)
Disc Three: Spook Louder
• "Spook Louder" (1943)
• "Mummy's Dummies" (1948)
• "Shivering Sherlocks" (1947)
• "The Ghost Talks" (1949)
• "Hokus Pokus" (1949)
• "Fright Night" (1947)
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!
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