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“The Three Stooges Collection: Volume 8-1955 to 1959”
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Sony Home Video
Genre:
TV-Series
Release Date:
6/7/10
Special Features:

None

Review:

When the Three Stooges shorts first came to DVD it seemed like the people who put them together took Moe’s advice to “spread out”—we got a paltry four or so shorts in both color and black and white. Although some viewers will think “ain’t that quaint” when looking at a Stooges compilation I suppose we some people won’t think much of this humor. They’d also correct me telling me to use “isn’t” to which I’d reply “isn’t it quisn’t”. ***

When I got this set I slowly turned…step by step…inch by inch…approaching the DVD player and hoping for the best. The good news is that this set is a huge improvement over previous ones. The good news for those who were fans of the Shemp shorts and Joe Besser shorts we finally get to see some of those essential shorts here. We get 16 of the Shemp shorts including four that were completed AFTER Shemp died of a heart attack. Moe Howard and Larry Fine had to find someone to stand in for Shemp for most scenes and used footage from other shorts mixing and matching them to complete their Columbia contract for the year. ***

Joe Besser was recruited to replace Shemp and first appeared in “Rusty Romeos” (Interestingly Curly Joe replace Shemp who was trying to pursue more dramatic roles and, in turn, Shemp had been recruited to replace Jerome “Curly” Joe Howard after his stroke). Unfortunately, Besser never quite caught on with the team and the shorts that he made are less memorable than earlier ones. Perhaps it was just the Stooges had run out of creative gas but these are probably some of the weakest of the shorts the Stooges made for Columbia. Nevertheless they are important to the Stooges history and legacy even if they are lesser films. We get 16 of the Besser shorts. ---

Image & Sound:

These are an improvement over some of the previous sets—they haven’t attempted to colorize them although they are presented in 1.85:1 (when, in fact, most of these shorts if not all were shot in 1.33:1) which changes the aspect ratio (it’s designed for widescreen vs. full screen). ***

Audio sounds fine with a cleaned up Dolby Digital mono soundtrack. ---

Special Features:

Sadly we don’t get any. A couple of commentaries by film scholars would have been nice or, at the very least, a featurette on the changes from Shemp to Joe Besser and how it impacted the slapstick humor of the shorts (they were less violent in some respects and less interesting). Besser had previously appeared on “The Abbot and Costello Show” as “Stinky” and later was a regular on “The Joey Bishop Show” after leaving the Stooges (he left because his wife was ill and the Columbia shorts unit had been shut down forcing Moe and Larry to take the act on the road. Besser was invited to participate but was unable to do so) and continued to have a thriving career in film and TV after he left the Stooges (he was a member for less than two years).

Final Words:

This is a nice set and while it is more for fans that want to complete their collection. There will be those that remember these Stooges shorts more fondly than others but towards the end the team was running out of steam even as they moved into feature films with Joe DeRita (and eventually cartoons). These aren't great shorts but they are better than a poke in the eye.

 

 
 
 
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