The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 7: 1952-1954
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These 22 digitally remastered shorts from 1952-1954 were made during a tumultuous time for The Three Stooges. First, in 1952 Curly succumbed to the illness brought on by his stroke six years earlier; he was only forty-eight when he died. Shemp had really hit his stride by this time and he is at the top of his game in the new shorts from this period, but budget cutbacks at Columbia forced director Jules White to recycle some old footage, so although the work in this collection is first-rate, one can't help but wonder what could have been done if they'd had the opportunity to develop more new material. Fortunately, this era did leave us with such classics as the Stooges' first 3-D short, SPOOKS! (1953) and PARDON MY BACKFIRE (1953); SHOT IN THE FRONTIER (1954) a parody of the classic film High Noon; and Larry's hilarious spook of Brando in CUCKOO ON A CHOO CHOO (1952). These shorts are all presented as they were projected in the theatres; some in widescreen for the first time since their
What chills, what thrills! While the Three Stooges' best days were behind them, these 22 slaphappy shorts produced between 1952 and 1954 demonstrate that the enduring comedy team still had a lot of hair-pulling, eye-gouging, and head-banging life in them yet. You can be forgiven a certain amount of déjà vu when watching some of the shorts. Studio budget cuts necessitated the use of recycled footage. "Booty and the Beast," for one, contains Curly's now-poignant cameo in "Hold That Lion." Still other shorts recycled plots from the team's Curly days ("A Missed Fortune" is a remake of "Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb"). While none of these shorts rank in the Stooges pantheon or are likely to change anyone's anti-Shemp bias (can't we all just get along?), they are knockabout fun for die-hard fans. The highlights of this set are "Spooks!" and "Pardon My Backfire," the team's pioneering forays into 3-D. An engagement anniversary cake, water, fire, and hypodermic needle comin' at ya are crude but effective. Other shorts offer sublimely surreal silliness. In "Cuckoo on a Choo Choo," a T-shirted Larry storms around like a Marlon Brando wannabe, while a soused Shemp hallucinates a giant canary. The vaudeville tradition lives on in "Tricky Dicks," with god-awful gags (the old "wooden leg named Smith" bit) and bizarre dialogue ("How dare you look like someone I hate," a woman greets Larry). The political satire "Three Dark Horses" is a fine example of the classic Stooges formula, in which villains seek three patsies "who are too dumb to think and will do what we tell them. Now where do we find such guys?" Enter the Stooges. But others, like "He Cooked His Goose," break convention by presenting Moe, Larry, and Shemp as individuals rather than a team. While the Stooges themselves may be showing their ages, the slapstick, expertly timed and exquisitely choreographed, never gets old. --Donald Liebenson
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The Three Stooges Collection, Volumes 1-8, for $112; why?
Because, you c-a-n get ALL OF THOSE EIGHT COLLECTION/VOLUMES, p-l-u-s a couple bonus discs of separate
2-reeler-short-subject efforts by SHEMP HOWARD; CURLY-JOE DERITA; and JOE BESSER, by buying the MSRP $96
collection for today's price. "Today's price" is usually about HALF of that, but if you see it under $50, it's some-
thing to do with fluctuating individual volume prices-=- don't forget -=- WITHOUT the bonus features, inclussive,
with the purchase of the NEW collection: The Three Stooges: The Ultimate Collection
Don't mess it up, or I'll poke your eyes out!
Speaking of messing it up, not only is the 3D horrible on the original releases, since 2013, the NEW pressings
are WITHOUT the 3D versions. It's a shame they didn't get rid of the "fake widescreen" shorts too! You've seen
them all in the UN-matted versions on TV as a kid, right? They've, in effect, gotten rid of a third of the picture.
With all the current 'hype' about the resurgence of 3D, it would seem a good idea that the two shorts made in that format, are included here, pity they just don't work over TV? With the glasses included in the set, they just come over as 'crap', better enjoyed in the regular 2d format, thankfully, also included here! It may just be that 3D doesn't come across well on TV? I've never seen any that really work on TV? But, that slight 'hiccup' aside, Vol. 7 is still a strong enough entry to warrent good sales! Keep going!
I'm also glad they manufacturer used three, slim line cases tohouse the DVD's rather that one of those awkward gatefold boxes that the hinge always breaks.
The slim fit boxes fit in my entertainment unit too
During the 1950's, the economics of film-making continued to take their toll on the Hollywood studio system; director Ed Bernds, whose Shemp films lent the series a touch of comedic class, left the studio, leaving Jules White in total control. Too bad, as White's films, though hilarious in many ways, seemed to turn the Stooges into bizarre, almost alien-like caricatures as opposed to actual PEOPLE as Bernds did. Case in point: Bernd's excellent "GENTS IN A JAM" (one of the 2 films by Bernds in this set), which brilliantly showcases the true talent of the Stooges; watch the scene where they get the telegram from Uncle Phineas and then encounter their landlady ("YOU TAKE HER...YOU GOT HER!"); this scene proves beyond a doubt that the Stooges had the potential to handle legitimate light comedy with the best of them. Too bad this truly funny film is undermined by the over-the-top beating that Shemp takes from Mickey Simpson near the end, which is mercifully cut short by that terrific knock-out punch from Kitty McHugh.
From then on, it's ALL Jules White. I admit I absolutely LOVE guffawing my way through "GOOF ON THE ROOF" ("Get busy or I'll dust yer' brains out again!"), THREE DARK HORSES ("Ya got worms?...Yeah, but I'm going anyway"), and any number of others, but one can hardly pretend that these films are anything other than the work of three talented, hard-working professional comedians doing their best under a producer/director who seemed to have lost interest in anything other than crude, grotesque nonsense. And then there's "CUCKOO ON A CHOO-CHOO", the Stooges' all-time bottom-of-the-barrel effort..but I suppose Jules White should at least get credit for trying something DIFFERENT--in this case a mind-numbing take-off of the popular "Street Car Named Desire" ("Shot in the Frontier", while still quite lame, is a funnier spoof...this time of 1952's "High Noon", complete with grizzeled old goof-ball Emmett Lynn's send-up of "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling", with which he incessantly serenades the Stooges and their brides).
A couple of Three-D experiments (watch for Shemp's unhinged "B-Bopper" routine and his cameo as a FLYING BAT in SPOOKS!), and then the RE-MAKES start, as Columbia began to take their older Shemp films, eliminate roughly six minutes of each, film a NEW six minutes, then release them to theatres as a NEW short. I imagine that this practice was as much a result of Jules White's own creative burn-out as it was of the declining economic fortunes of Columbia studios.
But hey..I doth protest too much; it's still the STOOGES we're talking about here--and I'm grateful that Columbia Tri-Star continues to release them in excellent transfers!
And while we're awating the release of Vol 7, ponder THESE immortal lines:
"What Moe can a fella say, that's all there is,there ain't no Moe!
"How do you do, Mr. Chrome-Dome?"
"Hey, what's the idea of spongin' on me?"
"Come on, porcupine, we'll mix him an EENAR FRAPPINI!"
"Moe, I ain't got no muglets!"
"Well, here's a couple of TIPS for ya!"
"Knives are quiet!"
"I'm not taking any more orders from you, you wart-hog!"
"That's how people start fires--playing with matches in houses!"
"As soon as I eat this jelly sandwich I'll help you guys."
"He's dead and I'M takin' over!"
"Waiteth, Moe..Hurt me not!"
"How ya fixed fer' blades? Ya better look!"
IT'S PRACTICALLY SHAKESPEAREAN!