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HTF Review: Three Stooges In History



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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted August 01 2003 - 08:23 AM

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Three Stooges in History






Studio: Columbia TriStar
Year: 1935-1948
Rated: G
Film Length: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, & Spanish





Release Date: August 19, 2003.


"All for one, and one for all! ...and every man for himself!"

Spoken like true comedians, The Three Stooges never fail to deliver a uniqueness to their comedy acts as they have for so many years, for so many generations. I am one of those people who have come to see their acts extremely late. After seeing so many documentaries of them, and so many snippets of their shows, and so many rip-offs of their acts by other comedians - Columbia TriStar Home Video has for some time now let us see The Three Stooges as much as we want, whenever we want, by releasing their episodes on DVD. It is a relief to finally see some good, clean, and quality humour.

The best thing about The Three Stooges is that there is variety in their shows. Variety is lacking in today's comedy acts - all sitcoms as always the same characters, the same house layouts, the same...everything...with this release by Columbia TriStar, we get "The Three Stooges in History" - five acts taking place through major time periods.

The first show is "Squareheads of the Round Table" (1947) featuring a Medieval Shemp, Larry, and Moe. While trying to save a smith from a beheading, the Stooges find themselves in mishaps with the miserable King and his security that send them on death row as well. Could they be saved after discovering a plot of the King's assassination by one of his own elites?

In the second show, Shemp, Larry, and Moe takes us back to the time of cave-dwellers in "I'm A Monkey's Uncle" (1948). We get a glimpse of habits, hunting, courting, and battle - the Three Stooges Way! Put well at the beginning of the clip, 'Any similarity between the characters in this picture and the real monkeys is definitely unfair to the monkeys."

Next up is "Restless Knights" (1935) featuring Larry, Curly, and Moe. This time these three brothers are hired to be the Queen's Royal Guards after finding out the plot of the King's prime minister's plan to kill/oust the young Queen. After putting on their own Royal Wrestling Match, the Queen disappears as they are caught off guard, and now have to think how to save her.

"Matriphony" (1942) features the same three stooges during the days of the Roman Empire under Emperor Octopus Grabus, who requests that all redheads from 18-22 years of age report to him to become one of his wives. That doesn't sound too bad, but the redheads don't like it and the three stooges, as pottery-men, are out against soldiers and crabs to save a redhead from becoming one with the Emperor! I couldn't help to think of Mel Brooks's 'History of the World, Part 1' when watching this episode. Absolutely hilarious!

At last, there is "Fiddlers Three" (1947), feature Shemp, Larry, and Moe. Three fiddlers want to get married but can't until the King's daughter and princess gets married in the spring. After some cute nursery rhyme enactments, the princess is kidnapped! They prepare a quest to find her and find some neat surprises along the way. Definitely a poke and slice of good humour.


VIDEO QUALITY Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image/Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Each episode is presented in their original black & white with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The back of the jacket mistakingly places the aspect ratio in a 1.78:1 window, but the presentation is not windowboxed and enhanced for widescreen TVs. There are no chapter stops within each episode.

The image quality of all but Restless Knights are good. Detail in those four can be good enough to reveal gags such as strings hanging from flying bugs. Some shots are incredibly clean, but all do have some film grain to print spots from time to time. I didn't find the film to be distracting to the episodes. Restless Knights, being of the oldest of the five presented on this disc, can have video that is troublesome at moments. There are more print scratches and black levels are not as defined like on the other four. At times, the darker interiors have a magenta tint to it with more film grain. Some scenes also appear to be out of focus. Given this picture's age it still does please. I am unsure as to what prints are being used for these releases, but I promise to find out and mention it on the next Three Stooges release.


AUDIO QUALITYPosted ImagePosted Image/Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

The episodes are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, as opposed to DD 1.0 mono stated on the back of the jacket. The sound is clean, but strident at times. The recording is dated, but thankfully it is free from loud and distracting hiss.


EXTRAS? Posted Image/Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

None to speak of. The episodes are each presented in a sub menu from the main menu, which gives viewers options of viewing with English, French, or Spanish subtitles, or choosing from English or Spanish languages.


THOUGHTS...

This is my own opinion (I hope Stooge fans don't hit me on the head with a hammer and throw a pie in my face), but I find that I enjoy the shows with Shemp as one of the Stooges more than Curly. Could it be because I was always called Curly in school when I was a kid...? Ha hah...no, I think not...but maybe... Posted Image
I think Columbia TriStar Home Video's attempt in bringing The Three Stooges to DVD is successful in performance. There could have been an opportunity for some notes presented in text form about the episodes as a small special feature. While I'm usually extremely critical about presentation as I try to enjoy film, I tend to forgive the oldest films unless there is obvious damage to the prints that are truly distracting. In the case of The Three Stooges: Three Stooges in History, I think the video and audio will please all who want to enjoy the Three Stooges, who have contributed to our history of comedy.

Michael Osadciw

Warner Bros. Blu-ray Reviewer
Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment Blu-ray Reviewer

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator
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#2 of 4 OFFLINE   jonathan_little

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Posted August 03 2003 - 11:43 AM

Thanks for the review, but I'm concerned about the value of the Three Stooges discs that Columbia continues to put out at an MSRP of $24.95. Why can Columbia put 28 episodes of TV shows like "News Radio" on 3 discs, but it seems the releases of Three Stooges shorts are limited to five or six shorts (about 90 minutes) per disc?

The only reason why I keep avoiding the Three Stooges discs is because I think the price to the amount of content ratio is pretty poor for a DVD retailing at around $20. I have Three Stooges CEDs that have about the same number of shorts per disc as these DVD releases do. The fact is that I'd pay $20 for these DVDs if they had two or three hours of content on them, but an hour and a half of (non-public domain) Stooges should be more in the $12 range, in my humble opinion.

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Mark Cappelletty

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Posted August 03 2003 - 02:18 PM

The MSRP keeps jumping back and forth between $25 and $20-- it would be nice for at least a modicum of consistency between the price points. I avoided the last three releases because of this (and because I don't want just a Curly Joe feature!)

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   JohanD

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Posted August 11 2003 - 07:09 AM

It would be nice if they released more content.. I wouldn't mind paying $100 for a nice boxed set of all their shorts..

If you were to buy all the shorts at $20 per 3.. it would get expensive in a hurry