Rated: Not Rated
Length: 340 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Stooges fans, rejoice! After years of haphazard distribution of the The Three Stooges on DVD, Sony is finally releasing The Three Stooges Collection Volume One: 1934-1936, which contains the first short films by the Stooges in chronological order and in black & white only. In addition, the shorts look and sound terrific. As an added bonus, the price is reasonable. The suggested retail price for 19 remastered and restored shorts is $24.96 (I am seeing pre-order street prices as low as $16.99). Compare that to the last Stooges release by Sony, Hapless Half-Wits, which has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and includes only four shorts.
The following shorts are included in this two-disc set. “New to DVD” means a short which has not previously been released by Sony/Columbia on DVD. However, some of those shorts may have appeared on the countless public domain Stooges DVD collections which are available.
Disc One (1934):
Men in Black
Three Little Pigskins
Disc One (1935):
Horses’ Collars (New to DVD)
Pop Goes the Easel
Uncivil Warriors (New to DVD)
Pardon My Scotch (New to DVD)
Three Little Bears
Disc Two (1936):
Ants in the Pantry (New to DVD)
Movie Maniacs (New to DVD)
Half-Shot Shooters (New to DVD)
Disorder in the Court
A Pain in the Pullman (New to DVD)
Whoops, I’m an Indian
Slippery Silks (New to DVD)
Fans of Lucille Ball will enjoy watching her in a supporting role in Three Little Pigskins. Charlie Chaplin's first wife, Mildred Harris, appears in Movie Maniacs.
Some Stooges trivia:
Pardon My Scotch is the first short to use what became the Stooges’ theme song, “Listen to the Mockingbird.” In the first fourteen shorts, Curly’s name in the opening credits is spelled “Curley.” His name is spelled “Curly” for the first time in the credits to Disorder in the Court. In Three Little Beers the boys work as deliverymen for Panther Brewing Company. When a beverage called “The Three Stooges Beer” went on sale a decade or so back, it was on the “Panther Brewing Co.” label (as far as I can determine the beer is no longer available, but I could be mistaken about that).
Is this the best news that Stooges fans have heard in many years? Why, soitenly!
These shorts have been wonderfully restored and remastered for this release. One has only to compare the first Stooges short, Woman Haters, with the transfer which was used for the 1999 DVD Curly Classics. The old transfer was made from a ragged print, but the new transfer is virtually pristine. Not only has the print been cleaned up, the contrast is much better and the image is sharper. Apart from some unavoidable moderate grain here and there, the shorts in this collection are nearly spotless. I doubt that they have ever looked better. Whoops, I’m an Indian seems to me to be a bit softer than the others, but it is still in very good shape.
Most of the opening titles are windowboxed, but the body of each short is shown full frame. The titles of the following shorts are not windowboxed: Half-Shot Shooters, A Pain in the Pullman, and Slippery Silks. The titles to the shorts False Alarms and Whoops, I’m an Indian are slightly windowboxed, with slivers of black visible on the top and bottom of my monitor.
The mono soundtracks are in fine shape. These shorts were made more than a half-century ago, but they are pretty much free of noise, excessive hiss, etc. The dialogue is always intelligible, and in the end that is what really counts.
There are no supplements on this DVD set. Disc Two contains some promos for other upcoming Sony DVDs, such as Seinfeld: Season Nine and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Each DVD offers the option of playing all shorts or selecting individual shorts.
The 19 shorts in this collection are spread over two discs, as noted above. Each disc comes in a slimcase and both discs come in a slipcase. The artwork on the covers of the slimcases is similar to the artwork on the slipcase, except that the slimcases have different thumbnail photographs.
The Final Analysis
I cannot recommend this set more highly. Stooges fans have been clamoring for the chronological release of The Three Stooges shorts for years, and Sony has demonstrated that it has heard our voices. Now it is up to us to encourage Sony to continue on this path by buying The Three Stooges Collection Volume One: 1934-1936. Better yet, buy one for yourself and another for a friend.
For Duty and Humanity!
Equipment used for this review:
Toshiba HD-XA2 DVD player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: October 30, 2007