Rated: Not Rated
Length: 390 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Fans who worried that Sony might lose interest in Three Stooges shorts after the Curly era ended – or who were concerned that Sony might not give the Shemp-era shorts the same restoration efforts – can rest easy. This latest release, which covers the years 1949-1951 (and therefore includes no appearances by Curly), looks and sounds wonderful and will leave Stooges aficionados with nothing to complain about.
Shemp had left The Three Stooges in 1930 and carved out an impressive career in Hollywood as a second banana to the likes of W.C. Fields and Abbott & Costello. After Curly suffered a stroke on the final day of filming on HALF-WIT’S HOLIDAY, Shemp came back to fill in for Curly until his brother recovered. Sadly, Curly was never himself again and made only a brief non-speaking cameo appearance in HOLD THAT LION before dying at the age of 48 in 1952. Shemp was more like Moe than Curly, both in physical appearance and in comic abilities. Wisely, he merely replaced Curly and did not try to imitate him. Shemp was the oldest of the Howard brothers, so it is amusing to see Moe repeatedly refer to Shemp as “kid” in these shorts.
This collection includes the following 24 shorts:
THE GHOST TALKS
WHO DONE IT?
MALICE IN THE PALACE
DUNKED IN THE DEEP
HUGS AND MUGS
LOVE AT FIRST BITE
SELF MADE MAIDS
THREE HAMS ON RYE
A SNITCH IN TIME
THREE ARABIAN NUTS
BABY SITTERS JITTERS
DON’T THROW AWAY THAT KNIFE
THE TOOTH WILL OUT
PEST MAN WINS
Fans of Christine McIntyre, the Stooges’ favorite female foil, will be happy to see that she appears in nine of these shorts. Jock Mahoney, who later went on to star in the television westerns THE RANGE RIDER and YANCY DERRINGER, appears as “Jacques O’Mahoney” in PUNCHY COWPUNCHERS. Fans of B-films of the fifties will spot the character actors Gene Roth and Myron Healey in this collection.
If there were any doubts that the Shemp shorts would sell well, this new collection is already ranked #49 in DVD sales on amazon.com. It now seems to be a near-certainty that Sony will release every Three Stooges short on DVD, and it has become clear that all of them are in line for first-class restoration.
The shorts in this collection have been meticulously restored and look great. There is some softness here and there (particularly in close-ups, which I have noted in previous volumes), but it is apparent that the softness is present in the original film elements. For the most part, it is difficult to believe that these shorts could have looked any better when they were first released in theaters 60 years ago. The images are free of dirt and damage, contrasts are solid, and all of the shorts are pleasingly film-like.
The English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks obviously offer nothing which will tax anyone’s sound system, but the mono sound is clear, intelligible, and devoid of annoying hiss and distortion. Every word of dialogue is clear and intelligible.
As with the prior five volumes, there are no supplements on this set.
Each disc includes the option of playing all shorts or selecting individual shorts.
The 24 shorts in this collection are spread over two discs, each with its own slimcase. The two slimcases are held 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 back of each slimcase includes a brief summary for each short.
The Final Analysis
I cannot recommend this set more highly. Three Stooges fans continue to snap up these sets as fast as Sony can produce them, and hopefully Volume Six will be no exception. Those of you who have not yet taken the Stooges plunge may want to take note of the fact that Amazon is bundling all six volumes for $90.00.
Once again, I urge you – buy one set for yourself and another for a friend. For Duty and Humanity!
Equipment used for this review:
Toshiba HD-XA-2 DVD player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: June 16, 2009