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The Three Stooges in 3D(1936-1949)
This is The Three Stooges at their bumbling, eye-poking, hair-pulling best! Including a full, high-quality restoration and colorization, this feature offers something that none before it have: a stunning, stereoscopic 3D transfer. See the boys like you have never seen them before with antics that jump off the screen as every slap, fall and nose-tweak is brought to life within your home. This set is a must-have for every fan and is the perfect complement to your home video library!
For more about The Three Stooges in 3D and the The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray release, see the The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on October 30, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Moe Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Larry Fine
» See full cast & crew
The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray Review
Nyuk, nyuk—watch out!
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, October 30, 2012
The Farrelly Brothers' The Three Stooges proved that old adage that you can't go home again, or at the very least can't attempt to recreate one of the most iconic comedy teams in the entire history of film. The Three Stooges were a staple— albeit a B- or even C-level staple—of films for an astounding 25 years, from 1934 to 1959, but perhaps even more importantly in terms of mass market penetration, many of us grew up watching them on television, where their features and (especially) their shorts used to run regularly on weekday afternoon and weekend television. While no one could realistically be expected to adequately recreate the manic charms of the "original" Stooges (in whatever aggregation), there's also no denying that The Three Stooges are something of an acquired taste for many people. The sheer stupidity of the Stooges seems to turn some people off, while others (myself included) find them often hysterically funny, even when their bits become labored and repetitive. This new offering from Legend offers colorized and (not to state the obvious) post-converted 3D versions of the four Columbia shorts which fell into the public domain several decades ago and have been regularly released by bargain basement home video labels ever since. The good news is that Legend is not a bargain basement level and has treated these shorts with a rather amazing amount of care and 3D feeding. Some will of course lament the colorization, though Legend has a long and rather honorable tradition of not overdoing the often slathered on look of this type of reboot. Few will find fault with the 3D rendering, which is amazingly precise and well done (more about both of these elements in the video section below).
The four shorts included on this disc are:
Disorder in the Court
This 1936 outing is the only one of the four to feature Curly Howard along with Moe Howard and Larry Fine. It's an often insane little piece about a club dancer named Gail Tempest (Suzanne Kaaren) who has been accused of murdering a guy named Kirk Robin (get it?). There are some great bits scattered throughout this frenetic piece. One of the best has the court bailiff trying—unsuccessfully, of course—to swear Curly in for testifying, something that Curly can't quite achieve since everytime the Judge tells him to take off his hat, he puts it in his right hand, which the bailiff then tells him to raise, resulting in Curly putting his hat back on his head. Yes, it's just plain dumb humor—but that's what makes it so funny. Later in the short the Stooges, in recreating the night of the murder, perform a little musical interlude which also has some very funny sight gags. There's some surprisingly subtle—subtle being a decidedly relative term in any Stooge outing—humor as well, though. When the defense attorney addresses the jury early in the short and commends them for being such upright, deep thinking citizens, the camera cuts to twelve people who look like they've wandered out of a slightly better dressed version of Deliverance.
This short stems from 1947 and, like the following three in this collection, presents Shemp Howard along with Moe and Larry. Shemp is the focus and the (literal) fall guy here, playing a voice instructor who is informed his rich Uncle has died, leaving him a sizable inheritance, but one which Shemp can collect only if he is married within 48 hours. That of course sets the Stooges off on a madcap adventure to find Shemp an appropriate spouse. A lot of this short centers around that most noble of instruments—the piano. Early in the short Larry is accompanying a "singer" named Miss Dinkelmeyer (Dee Green) as Shemp tries in vain to coax something even remotely resembling something vaguely tonal out of her mouth, and of course Larry suffers several injuries along the way. Later in the absolutely chaotic denouement, a piano is literally torn to shreds as the trio attempts to find a missing wedding ring. This is one of the more consistently violent Stooge shorts, and in fact Shemp evidently had his nose broken in one of the many melées that dot the film. There are also a couple of iconic moments with co-star Emil Sitka, including one gag that Tarantino fans may recall from Pulp Fiction.
Sing a Song of Six Pants
This second 1947 short was released theatrically directly after Brideless Groom, and while it's certainly enjoyable on its own merits, it pales somewhat in comparison to the earlier, more insanely frenetic, Stooge outing. The set up of this one is pretty simple, with the boys operating a tailor shop which is about to be repossessed by nefarious note holders who might as well be twirling their mustaches and threatening to reclaim their deed. In the meantime, the Stooges find out there's a bank robber on the lam with a sizable reward on his head, and who of course should wander into the tailor shop, leaving a suit with the combination to a safe containing the loot inside. That sets up the climactic all holds barred finale which leaves the tailor shop in a certain state of disarray. This is "okay" Stooge material, but comes off as somewhat tired and predictable, despite some fantastic sight gags (keep an eye on Shemp trying to iron a pair of pants).
Malice in the Palace
I was kind of shocked to be reading Variety the other day and stumbling across an obituary for Turhan Bey, an actor who was frequently co-starred with the likes of Maria Montez in exotic "Arabian" themed films that seemed to really capture the public's imagination in the forties. This short was produced in 1949, a bit after the Arabian filmic fad had declined, but it has the same sort of faux exoticism as the feature films from earlier in the decade, albeit in a wacky and irreverent manner. The boys are running a café known as the Casbah Bah (think about it), when two turbaned gentlemen customers reveal they're after a priceless diamond that is supposedly locked away in the ancient tomb of a certain King Rootintootin, though it's evidently already been taken by another thief. The Stooges then get the wise idea to retrieve the diamond themselves and get the sizable reward money that's being offered. Needless to say, their "disguises" as they attempt to infiltrate the palace where the diamond is supposedly being kept aren't especially brilliant given the Eastern setting of the film. This is an undeniably funny outing for the Stooges filled with a number of great set pieces both in the café and, later, in the palace. Interestingly, this short evidently was set to also feature Curly in the supporting role of the chef, but his contributions were cut prior to release.
The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Classics imprint, with AVC (2D) and MVC (3D) encoded 1080p transfers in 1.34:1. As mentioned above, these are all public domain pieces, but Legend has put together a package sourced from elements that for the most part look quite good. There are occasional problems, including the stray missing frame here and there, but overall these offer relatively little troubling damage. It's rather hard to state definitively how much DNR has been applied here as Legend's colorizing process tends to mask grain in any case. These certainly look somewhat scrubbed, but never approach the completely smeary, waxy quality that disturbs ardent videophiles. The colorizing is rather conservative, as is Legend's standard operating procedure, something that helps these shorts from looking too garish or odd. Overall, these shorts have a somewhat soft and even ragged look from time to time, but certainly are head and shoulders above other PD releases of these same titles. Still, some may wish that the original black and white versions had been offered here as well.
The 3D post-conversion on the other hand is largely excellent and inarguably well done. Legend was one of the first labels devoted to 3D, and their expertise with this technology is readily apparent in all of these shorts. There's been exceptional care devoted to these pieces, with a really nice layering of depth (note for example in Disorder in the Court how there are clearly defined layers of the court observers depending on where they're sitting, rather than just simply foreground and background objects). A number of the sight gags are increased due to this dimensionality.
The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The original mono tracks of all four of these shorts are delivered via DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono) mixes here and for the most part sound fine, given reasonable expectations. The overall sound is pretty tinny and boxy, as shouldn't come as any major surprise, but dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. The musical performances sound okay, if not fantastic, with highs just a bit on the brittle side and midrange and low range frequency a bit anemic but not overly problematic.
The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No supplements of any kind are included on this Blu-ray disc.
The Three Stooges in 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Three Stooges in 3D may initially strike purists as sacrilege, but Legend has done a commendable job with the post-conversion here, even though many will still balk at the colorizing Legend has also delivered with this release. These four public domain shorts have received pretty shoddy treatment in the home video market through the years, and Legend at least has attempted to gussy them up. That does mean that some noise reduction appears to have been applied, but the added depth of the 3D presentation is really quite remarkable and may help to overcome any qualms videophiles would otherwise have. It's doubtful that Columbia – Sony will ever do anything with these particular four shorts, so keeping that in mind, this release comes Recommended.
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