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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Three Stooges Collection Vol. 4 1943-1945



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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted October 04 2008 - 06:57 PM

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Studio: Sony/Columbia
Years: 1943-1945
Rated: Not Rated
Length: 360 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Languages: English
Subtitles: None


The Program

Sony continues to delight fans of the Three Stooges with this fourth volume of two-reelers, presented in chronological order. In spite of what you may have heard elsewhere, the shorts in this set look and sound just about as good as what we saw and heard in the previous three volumes (see below for the particulars). The new collection includes the following shorts:

Disc One:

THEY STOOGE TO CONGA
DIZZY DETECTIVES
SPOOK LOUDER
BACK FROM THE FRONT
THREE LITTLE TWIRPS
HIGHER THAN A KITE
I CAN HARDLY WAIT
DIZZY PILOTS
PHONY EXPRESS
A GEM OF A JAM

Disc Two:

CRASH GOES THE HASH
BUSY BUDDIES
THE YOKE’S ON ME
IDLE ROOMERS
GENTS WITHOUT CENTS
NO DOUGH BOYS
THREE PESTS IN A MESS
BOOBY DUPES
IDIOTS DELUXE
IF A BODY MEETS A BODY
MICRO-PHONIES

As far as I can determine, eight of these shorts had never been released previously on DVD by Sony/Columbia:

THEY STOOGE TO CONGA
THREE LITTLE TWIRPS
I CAN HARDLY WAIT
A GEM OF A JAM
BUSY BUDDIES
THE YOKE’S ON ME
IDLE ROOMERS
THREE PESTS IN A MESS

Stooges aficionados are painfully aware of the fact that previous incarnations of “Micro-Phonies” were plagued by a damaged soundtrack. In the scene where Christine McIntyre explains why she has taken an assumed name while trying to establish a singing career, there had been a jump in her dialogue. Happily, the soundtrack has now been completely restored.

The shorts in this set were made during World War II, and several of them feature the Stooges battling Nazi spies and "Japs" who escaped from an internment camp. In one short, “No Dough Boys,” the Stooges dress up as Japanese soldiers for an advertising shoot and then stumble into a Nazi den!

The shorts from this era also are notable because they represent the beginning of the end of Curly’s involvement with the Stooges. Following the shooting of “Idiots Deluxe,” Curly was admitted to a hospital and was diagnosed with severe hypertension. Although he continued to work, the frenetic physical comedy which exemplified his earlier work is absent from later shorts such as “Micro-Phonies.” Curly was still funny, but he was never again the same.

The Stooges sets continue to sell extremely well; this volume is already #76 at Amazon. Volume Five, which has not yet been announced, will include the last of the Curly shorts

The Video

There has been some discussion about a review posted on another site which claims that “Idiots Deluxe” is “riddled with spots, debris, lines, scratches…”

However, I would be interested to know that reviewer’s definition of “riddled.” While it is true that the transfer of “Idiots Deluxe” is not pristine, it still looks pretty good. In fact, I did an A-B comparison, and this transfer appears to be identical to that which was used for Stooges and the Law. Check out the scene where Larry and Curly pour pills down Moe’s throat. Reel scratches which briefly appear on the left side of the screen can be seen on both discs. The original “Idiots Deluxe” transfer was one of the better ones when Stooges shorts were being released four or five per DVD, so I assume that Sony decided that this one did not need additional restoration. Not everyone may agree with that decision, but “Idiots Deluxe” is very watchable.

Otherwise, as was the case with the first three volumes in this series, these shorts have been superbly restored and remastered. The images are generally sharp, which excellent contrast and fine shadow detail. There are moments when the image is a bit soft – this occasional softness is most noticeable in close-ups, and presumably is how the original elements look. Sony has wisely resisted the temptation to apply excessive DNR, retaining an appropriate amount of film grain to give these shorts a satisfying, film-like appearance.

There is every reason to believe that Sony will continue to release the Stooges shorts in a manner which will allow fans to see them as they first appeared in theaters more than a half-century ago.

The Audio

Again, there has been some discussion about claims that the audio for “Crash Goes the Hash” is sub-par. I have no idea what that reviewer is talking about. I listened to the audio for that short twice, and it sounds fine to me. I also compared it to the audio on the DVD Stooges at Work, and I could not discern any significant difference. Perhaps the reviewer had a defective disc? I invite readers to do your own comparisons and let me know if you hear problems which I am unable to detect.

Overall, the mono soundtracks are of course limited in dynamic range, but they are in fine shape. The dialogue is always intelligible and the sound is for the most part free of distortion.

The Supplements

As with the previous three volumes, there are no supplements on this DVD set.

Other Features

Each of the two discs offers the option of playing all shorts or selecting individual shorts.

The Packaging

The 21 shorts in this collection are spread over two discs. Each disc comes in a slimcase and both discs are encased in a slipcase. The artwork on the covers of the slimcases is similar to the artwork on the slipcase, except that the slimcases has different thumbnail photographs.

The Final Analysis

I know that I am repeating myself, but I cannot recommend this set more highly. Stooges fans obviously are snapping up these sets as fast as Sony can produce them, and with good reason. If fans continue to support these sets, we have every reason to believe that Sony will continue to give the same care to the shorts from the Shemp era and the Joe Besser era. Therefore, once more I repeat my earlier plea: 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 7, 2008
Rich Gallagher

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   rdf8585

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Posted October 05 2008 - 05:13 AM

Great review. The quality of Micro Phonies has long been an issue for Stooge fans and many are anticipating a cleaner copy on this volume and it seems like we're getting it.

Three Little Pirates is another short that is in need of a lot of work and figures to be on volume 5. "Pirates" has been plauged by visible on-screen lines in certain spots. Almost like slices. If anyone has a copy of the "All the World's A Stooge" DVD, you'll know what I mean.

I'm curious to see how they do volume 5. 1946-1948 includes both Curly and Shemp and how exactly they handle that is something many are wondering as well. I e-mailed someone at Sony earlier in the week but haven't received a response.

#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Brent S

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Posted October 05 2008 - 05:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gallagher

THE YOKE’S ON ME

... the Stooges battling... escaped Japanese prisoners.

A common misconception... the characters in YOKE'S are refugees from a relocation center, not escaped Japanese prisoners.

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted October 05 2008 - 08:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent S
A common misconception... the characters in YOKE'S are refugees from a relocation center, not escaped Japanese prisoners.

Thanks, you are correct. That slipped past me, but the sheriff at the roadblack says, "Some Japs escaped from a relocation center last night..."

I have corrected the review.
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#5 of 23 OFFLINE   David Deeb

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Posted October 06 2008 - 10:26 AM

Thanks for the great review Richard. Can't wait to get my copies tomorrow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdf8585
I'm curious to see how they do volume 5. 1946-1948 includes both Curly and Shemp and how exactly they handle that is something many are wondering as well. I e-mailed someone at Sony earlier in the week but haven't received a response.

Hopefully, they'll just include the remaining Curlys w/ the first Shemps.

From a marketing stand point, it would be a great idea too. For some who only know of Curly, this will give them a little sample of Shemp.

Shemp is hilarious, and fits perfectly with Moe & Larry. Most Stooge fanatics enjoy the Shemp films just as much as the Curly films.

#6 of 23 OFFLINE   MilesH

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Posted October 07 2008 - 02:20 PM

Shemp is the best

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Ed Moroughan

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Posted October 07 2008 - 02:27 PM

While I'll be buying this volume anyway it doesn't matter but I'm slightly concerned by these quotes from a DVDTalk review:

"In the opening short, They Stooge to Conga, there's a few frames missing from a bit where Moe hits Curly in the mouth with a hammer."

"And very curiously, Back From the Front and Higher Than a Kite have what I can only assume are compression issues where some of the blacks go green (in Higher just in one brief shot, but in Back for several long ones onboard the ship)."

Anyone have any insight? I am not familiar with the shorts mentioned.

DVD Talk Review: The Three Stooges Collection - Volume Four: 1943-1945

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted October 07 2008 - 05:09 PM

A few FRAMES? What does that amount to, half a second?

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Mark Cappelletty

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Posted October 07 2008 - 06:53 PM

Amazon lowered the price of this from $21.99 to $16.99 today (10/07)!

#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Robbie^Blackmon

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Posted October 07 2008 - 08:24 PM

The missing frames have always been, well, missing. It's a jumpcut to make sure it looks like Moe just thwacked that hammer right in Curly's mouth. It's just another one of those little tricks of cutting for pacing that was not uncommon during the Stooge era.

I haven't seen any green in either of the two shorts mentioned, though I wasn't looking for it during the previous viewing.
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#11 of 23 OFFLINE   HELLOLARRY

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Posted October 08 2008 - 11:01 AM

I agree on TSTC, that scene with the hammer has always looked like that. There isn't anything missing there.

I've seen some other reviews on this set too regarding the condition of Idiots Deluxe. A few things I've noticed.

I dont' know if there is a name for this process however, I have noticed that most of the Stooges shorts seem to have freeze frame title cards (provided there isn't anything moving like the torch on the Columbia lady in the 30s films). The dissolves from the Three Stooges title card to film title, to production credits isn't true to the original release, it seems to have been manufactured for the DVD release. I hope I'm explaining it correctly. I don't know if it is a cost saving measure that they just take one frame from each, clean it up, and then do the dissolves. Maybe I'm too much of a geek but I've seen these films for most of my whole life and you just seem to know where in the theme that the dissolve starts and they are different.

It doesn't matter to me, it is just an observation but I'd be curious to the reason why this is done. Does anyone know? I think the print for Idiots Deluxe looks fine. The practice I mentioned in my previous paragraph doesn't seem to have been applied with this short. The credits move more fluidly here. I think as a DVD and classic movie fan, I'm sometimes spoiled by the condition of these older films so some blemishes here and there don't seem to upset me as much.

The biggest improvements for me are Higher Than a Kite and Micro Phonies. When it was on the old DVD (not sure which collection) it was from a 16mm (I think) print and was all grainy and washed out. Ironically when it played cable at the same time, the print looked beautiful. Regarding MP, aside from the splice in the film, the contrast was so bright on the previous release.

#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Robbie^Blackmon

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Posted October 08 2008 - 12:03 PM

[quote=HELLOLARRY]
I dont' know if there is a name for this process however, I have noticed that most of the Stooges shorts seem to have freeze frame title cards (provided there isn't anything moving like the torch on the Columbia lady in the 30s films). The dissolves from the Three Stooges title card to film title, to production credits isn't true to the original release, it seems to have been manufactured for the DVD release. I hope I'm explaining it correctly. I don't know if it is a cost saving measure that they just take one frame from each, clean it up, and then do the dissolves. Maybe I'm too much of a geek but I've seen these films for most of my whole life and you just seem to know where in the theme that the dissolve starts and they are different.
[quote]

The titles have not been tampered with apart from some digital tweaking. What you're seeing is likely a good combination of digital image stabilisation and a decent amount of image noise reduction. Gate weave is almost non-existant in many of the shorts, now, plus alot of specks/scratches have been removed.

For reference, check out the titles for "A Pain in the Pullman" in the first set. The titles for that short have always exhibited an optical printing error that causes one frame of the Stooges' Head title to flash over the production credits title. Even though the image is clean and stable, the error is still there.

Also, the version of "Brideless Groom" from the Hapless Half-Wits dvd, while looking nice and cleanly touched-up, still displays some picture disturbance during the title shot, indicative of minor, vertical negative damage. The same slight, wobbly/scratchy look is clearly visible on decent, uncleaned prints from the past, though to a lesser extent on the "Hapless" dvd.

Besides, it would cost too much to key up and mix new titles. Heck, Sony hasn't even updated their logo in how long?! Lol!

The titles are fine. And, for what it's worth, I like the way "Idiots Deluxe" looks. It's filmy and it has a filmy texture to the image. Thank heavens Sony hasn't gone nuts with DVNR! Let's keep it that way!
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a turk with a dirk may stick a clerk!"
-Shemp Howard in "Blunder Boys"

#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted October 08 2008 - 01:10 PM

I know exactly what HELLOLARRY means, and I've noticed that for years.

I've always thought it was because for something like a title card during the credits, it's much more economical to clean up and restore one frame and reuse it for however long it lasts (50 frames or whatever) than go on and clean up and restore 49 more identical frames.

In fact, it would be an outrageous waste of money and time to do otherwise.

However, I do notice that things seem to "freeze" at that point. But, like so many things in movies, I guess the vast majority of the public doesn't notice or care one bit.

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 08 2008 - 11:26 PM

According to the 3 stooges.net message boards, volume 5 is rumoured to be coming out sometime in January.
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#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted October 10 2008 - 05:09 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Zannikos
According to the 3 stooges.net message boards, volume 5 is rumoured to be coming out sometime in January.

There's nothing official from Sony yet, but January wouldn't surprise me. Vol. 4 is currently #36 on Amazon, so it's selling very well.
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#16 of 23 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted October 10 2008 - 05:31 PM

I helped the cause somewhat by buying two copies this week. Posted Image

We watched the first three episodes from Disc 1, up to and including Spook Louder, which was an appropriate episode to watch during this festive season. Posted Image

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 10 2008 - 07:43 PM

If in the next volume they will continue to do 3 year spans, we will get a whopping 25 shorts !!!!!!!!!!!!If im not mistaken thats the biggest collection to date, since the most any previous volumes had was 24, if Im remembering correctly.Volume 5 should be the last 10 curleys, and the first 15 shemps.
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#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted October 10 2008 - 10:36 PM

I'm not worried about getting Volume 5 rather quickly, because it's still Curly, for at least the first several shorts. And then the Shemp films kick in and they're some of his best, starting out in 1947. So the 5th volume is still a good buy for casual fans who may be on the fence.

I don't want to sound too pessimistic, but I just hope Sony continues to lavish the same attention on these episodes beginning with Volume 6 -- or that there IS even a Volume 6 to begin with! I just hope the general public doesn't figure "Oh, I only want the Curly shorts.. I don't need the rest". If that happens, sales will fall -- but I hope Sony is prepared for this and doesn't get all nervous about it. Maybe the basic Three Stooges Fanbase is large enough on its own to move the Shemps and Bessers.

I am very anxious to see how Sony will package Volume 5 -- will the cover feature photos of both Shemp as well as Curly (which is as it should be done, IMO)...?

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 11 2008 - 12:13 AM

Also on the 3 stooges.net message board, it was mentioned that after volume 5 , the collections will have alot more shorts per each volume, to up the value, because of shemp and besser.
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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted October 11 2008 - 02:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
Maybe the basic Three Stooges Fanbase is large enough on its own to move the Shemps and Bessers.
Joe,

That's a wonderful line, esp. "... to move the Shemps and Bessers." Posted Image





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