Friday, April 2, 2010

On DVD: The Three Stooges Collection: Volume 1--1935-36

We've all grown up watching the reruns over and over again of The Three Stooges, and we all have our favorites. While the Stooges' brand of slapstick comedy wouldn't go over as well today without invoking the wrath of the PC (Politically Correct) Police, it was a different world that the Stooges existed in 75 years ago.

Today's audience will associate eye gouges with professional wrestling, but it was part of the Stooges' act. Moe & Curly Howard and Larry Fine weren't exactly presented as Rhodes' Scholars, and in these classic short subjects, drifted from one job to another, depending on the storyline. They've played soldiers, musicians, doctors, and, occasionally, unemployed common folks.

The very first offering, "Woman Haters", sets the tone. Larry is inducted into the club, even though he is engaged to be married. He goes through with the wedding anyway, behind the backs of Moe & Curly. The next short, "Punch Drunks", was written by the Stooges themselves (Curly is credited as Jerry Howard), and showcases Curly, who becomes a whirlwind of violence when he hears "Pop Goes the Weasel", especially when Larry plays it on his violin.

My personal favorite from the Curly era is "Disorder in the Court". I have had to have seen this one at least 50 times on TV since the 70's. The boys are star witnesses, helping clear a nightclub dancer of murdering her boyfriend. This is another instance of Larry playing his violin, while Moe holds a harmonica between his teeth whilst conducting his partners with a baton. Curly is on stand-up bass. Of the three, Larry is the only legitimate musician, since he had trained to play classical violin before turning to comedy, and we all know it's better to hold the harmonica in your hands while playing, otherwise, as Moe discovers, you're prone to swallowing the instrument. Another highlight is Curly struggling to take the oath before entering the witness box, thanks largely to insisting on wearing a derby hat and carrying an umbrella, even though it wasn't a rainy day. Classic comedy gold.

There's more where this came from, of course, so I have to find the time to invest in the remaining volumes in the series.


 Edit: 4/11/14: Here's "Disorder in the Court":

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