DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Three Stooges ChromaChoice

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Nestor_Ramos, Aug 11, 2004.

Tags:
  1. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    The Three Stooges: Stooged & Confused
    and
    The Three Stooges: Goofs on the Loose


    Studio: Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment
    Year of original release: 1934-1941
    Aspect Ratio: 4:3 (OAR)
    Audio: English, Dolby Digital 2.0
    Color/B&W
    MSRP: $44.95 for both



    The Three Stooges are an acquired taste – or, more accurately, a taste that most people come pre-equipped with at birth, but then shed along with their diapers. There are those who love the Stooges, though I confess I am not among their number. But there is undoubtedly a market for quality DVD reissues of their classic shorts. Columbia has done an honest job of putting together a package that should appeal to most hardcore fans.

    The gimmick here, as has been widely reported, is that these shorts have been colorized using a new, allegedly superior process. Colorization seemed to have been rightly confined to the dustbin of celluloid history some years ago, when Ted Turner’s attempts at it resulted in the butchering of many beloved black and white classics.

    For these discs, the technicians behind the process used extensive research – old costumes, swatches of cloth, first hand accounts – to accurately reproduce the colors on the set when the shorts were originally shot. Of course, this doesn’t make a bit of sense. Costumes, makeup and set colors were chosen because of how they would film in black and white. As a result, sets are ludicrous shades of green (the hospital walls in “Men in Black”); clothing is inappropriately saturated with color; and skin tones still have that flat, red cast that screams ‘colorization!’

    Indeed, the best thing about the colorization work on these discs is that you can turn it off. Pressing the ‘angle’ button on your remote control toggles between the color and black and white versions of the shorts. In every instance (with the possible exception of the opening credits) the black and white wins out. As Roger Ebert commented recently: black and white movies aren’t missing something. The world is in color. Black and white cinematography actually is actually adding something on top of that.

    The discs include the following shorts:
    Goofs on the Loose:
    Men in Black, The Sitter Downers, Punch Drunks, Playing the Ponies
    Stooged and Confused
    Violent Is the Word for Curly, You Nazty Spy!, No Census No Feeling, An Ache in Every Stake

    It should be noted that there is wide sentiment regarding the overall release pattern of Stooges material, with numerous different and sometimes conflicting sets available. Getting your hands on every Stooges short is an expensive proposition. How these shorts were chosen for colorization also remains a mystery.

    Special Features
    Both discs make use of the same documentary, in which Sony technicians make laughable assertions about how far the colorization process has come. It’s anamorphically enhanced and shot in 1.85:1, and is technically fascinating. Clips of an upcoming ChromaChoice release actually look superior to the quality of these discs.

    ChromaChoice – Columbia’s name for the ability to toggle between color and black and white – is the main attraction here. It works quite well, though I imagine most readers here will check the color version a few times, run to the bathroom, and watch the rest of the disc in black and white.

    Video
    [​IMG][​IMG]1/2
    One positive side effect of the dubious colorization process is that the new black and white transfers are pretty solid. Whether you want to see such facial detail is debatable – the comedy is so broad that subtle facial inflections actually detract sometimes. I suppose the point is that they’re mugging shamelessly, but I prefer the long shots in which they’re cracking each other over the head with punch bowls. There are very few scenes which are dimly lit, which makes it easy on the transferring process, and there’s some graininess. This is natural for 30’s era productions, and it makes it a bit difficult to discern edge enhancement, which is present throughout. Regardless, the detail makes for a pleasing image, certainly worthy of the source material.
    For notes on the colorized transfer, see the main review, above.

    Audio
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    The Dolby Digital stereo track preserves the dubbing of the original shorts, for better or worse. The shrill crashes and thwaps as the Stooges make mayhem haven’t been remastered too heavily. A 5.1 track would’ve just been bizarre anyway.

    Conclusion
    [​IMG][​IMG] 1/2
    It’s nice to see a studio taking advantage of some of the interesting and underused features that DVD has to offer, though it’s a bit disturbing that it’s in service of a purpose that is hardly noble. The Stooges are a pretty good choice for colorization, I suppose, because their fan base is likely to reach for a weapon when they hear terms like ‘artistic integrity’ thrown around. And because access to the black and white material is easy, even fans who object to colorization (as I’m sure most on this board do) can’t gripe too much. Of course, if as much time an energy were put into a chronological Stooges collection, fans would have nothing to complain about. And we can’t have that.
     
  2. Will*B

    Will*B Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2003
    Messages:
    535
    Likes Received:
    60
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    London, England
    Real Name:
    Will
    Great review, thanks Nestor!


    Sorry for being SLIGHTLY off-topic with this, but...

    I read today that George Lucas is complaining that they colorized these 3 Stooges films... Imagine! George Lucas complaining that someone has gone back to films he loves and has changed them!

    He even said that it's an insult to the original artists... Try telling that to the poor guy who's been digitally replaced by Hayden Whatever!

    I guess his wallet's too fat to see the irony.
     
  3. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2002
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Lucas' comments are even more strange considering the fact that Columbia's new DVDs contain both the original B/W versions and colorized short subjects.

    Stooges fans still have access to the originals. Lucas won't allow Star Wars fans to have the same choice.
     
  4. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,566
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    I'd like to see some comparisons between the original DVD editions of these shorts and the "ChromaChoice" versions (B&W, of course). If the new versions are indeed better transfers, I wonder why Columbia didn't bother to use them to begin with.


    As for Lucas' comments. It's obvious that he's referring to people changing other people's work. He has been through that (American Graffiti and THX-1138 were both altered by the studios). It's totally different than a filmmaker altering his own work.

    After all, since when has Lucas altered any films he didn't work on?
     
  5. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2002
    Messages:
    2,950
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I wish George Lucas would have THX technicians replicate a decent hairpiece for him to wear. [​IMG]
     
  6. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    3,320
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    He goes to Don King's barber.
    So, what's the problem?!?!?!;-)
     
  7. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I haven't seen the other DVD releases, but all reports indicate that these are new, vastly superior transfers.

    Nestor
     
  8. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Nice review Nestor. The Three Stooges is something I lack within my collection, so I think I'll give these two discs shot.

    And like Patrick says;



    [​IMG]

    Thanks.
     
  9. Brent Bridgeman

    Brent Bridgeman Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 1999
    Messages:
    416
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Real Name:
    Brent Bridgeman
    Am I reading this right? $45 MSRP for 8 shorts? Isn't that a bit on the expensive side...like waaaay on the expensive side?
     
  10. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,959
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0


    Actually, it's 16 shorts (8 Color & 8 B/W). [​IMG]

    I stopped buying the Stooges DVDs after the first 2 volumes due to the high prices and poor transfers. Now, Columbia believes the lagging sales are due to the lack of color? Somebody there, needs to grow a brain. It's nearly impossible to go into any store without finding some product with a stooge on it, yet Columbia can't figure out how to sell their films successfully.

    I would love to own every single short, but these releases just aren't it (Bad themes, Too Expensive, Duplicate shorts from earlier releases, etc....). Are they really as stupid as they seem? I was in Best Buy the other day and they had a rack of the new Stooge releases and it looked as though not a single copy had sold. Until, they figure it out, I've still got my VHS copies.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. Drew Salzan

    Drew Salzan Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    110
    True to form, shame on Sony Home Video. Colorization, poor value and choosing shorts that have already been included in their previous releases (i.e. Men in Black). I guess the only positive is that they cleaned up the prints, although the previous ones were acceptable to me. I also wish that they would include the option to play all of the shorts at once, instead of having to go back to the menu after each one and select the next.
     
  12. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You can in fact play all the shorts consecutively on these discs, either in black and white or in color. It's a choice from the main menu.
     
  13. Drew Salzan

    Drew Salzan Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    110


    Since I am not bothering with these new releases, I was not aware of this. The older ones did not have this option.
     
  14. Shane Dodson

    Shane Dodson Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 7, 1999
    Messages:
    118
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The only reason why somebody shouldn't consider these DVDs is the fact that there are only 4 shorts on each disc.

    As for the colorization, it's the best I've seen...but I prefer the original B&W.

    Those who are considering these new Stooge DVDs should consider the fact that the shorts have been completely remastered.

    Having watched the B&W shorts on these new discs, I have to say that the restoration of these films is nothing short of extraordinary.

    Just compare the short "Violent Is the Word for Curly." On Columbia's previous DVD, the print was in lousy shape...dirt, specks, splices, you name it.

    Now take a look at the remastered "Violent" on the new DVD. It looks amazing by comparison.

    I've been a Stooge fan for about 30 years now, and while I'm not--and will probably never be--sold on the concept of colorization, these DVDs will placate the Stooge fan who wants GREAT transfers of these classic shorts.

    Now...that being said, bring on the Curly/Shemp/Joe boxed sets, Columbia!!!

    Regards,

    - S.D.
     
  15. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't know if I completely agree with you. Even though the B&W transfers are fantastic (considering the period) there's another reason to avoid these discs. There's no way to let Sony know that you're buying strictly for the B&W transfers. Strong sales will indicate to the studio that colorization sells. Before you know it, we're back to colorizing Citizen Kane and It's a Wonderful Life, and I have to shoot myself in the face.
     
  16. Shane Dodson

    Shane Dodson Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 7, 1999
    Messages:
    118
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    I can't help it if Columbia gets "message A" or "message B." All I do know is that these are nice remasters of classic Stooge shorts. If the prescence of optional colorization doesn't bother you, I'd say go for it.

    As for colorization, I don't have a problem with it, as long as the studio offers a choice. We have a choice here.

    Regards,

    - S.D.
     

Share This Page