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Comedy Legends Collection: The Three Stooges/Abbott and Costello [DVD]

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Malice in the Palace
This Shemp Howard-era Three Stooges short has quite a few good gags. It opens up at the Cafe Casbah Bah, where two forbidding-looking Middle Easterners, Hassan Ben Sober and Ghinna Rumma, are plotting to break into the tomb of Rootentooten, which contains a priceless diamond. But first they want to eat, and unfortunately for them, their waiters are Larry, Moe, and Shemp. After watching Larry chase after a cat and dog while brandishing a meat cleaver, the men are convinced they're being fed the pets -- especially since the animals are fighting under the table and their yells seem to be coming from the plates of food. It turns out that the plotters are too late -- the Emir of Schmow has already gotten the diamond. The fierce looking pair break into tears -- "With that diamond I could have quit my job as the doorman at the Oasis hotel!" wails Hassan. Because there is a fifty thousand dollar reward for the return of the diamond, the Stooges decide to go to Schmow (with the help! of an hilarious map) and try their luck. They show up disguised as Santa Clauses and manage to gain entrance to the palace. To approach the Emir -- who is laughing over the funny papers -- they pile on top of each other, giving the appearance of a towering, but rather slapdash monster. However, the Emir believes Shemp, who insists that they are the evil spirit who guards the diamond and readily hands over the jewel. They can't navigate a doorway, however, and tumble to the ground. A guard tries to stop them from leaving but winds up with a face full of fruit, courtesy of Shemp, and the boys escape. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Brideless Groom
Shemp Howard plays a vocal coach in this Three Stooges short. His most adoring student is a homely young miss who cheerfully mangles "The Voice of Spring." As soon as her lesson is over, Moe and Larry show up and inform him that his Uncle Caleb has left him a half a million dollars -- provided that he is married by six o'clock that evening. Shemp needs a bride in a hurry, so he heads to a phone booth with his little black book and a handful of nickels, but he only manages to get tangled up with Moe. Then he sees a pretty girl (Christine McIntyre), who's a new resident in the building, but she turns out to be a violent psychopath. Shemp has no choice but to take his awful voice student to the altar, but as the justice of the peace (Emil Sitka) is preparing to wed them, an angry group of Shemp's former girlfriends show up -- Moe ran a notice in the paper announcing his dilemma. The women battle furiously to become Shemp's bride, and the Stooges are all the worse for wear. The semi-conscious Shemp manages to say "I do" to the singing student, and when he comes to and realizes what he's done, his response is to scream, "Help!" If this short bears a few similarities to the Buster Keaton silent Seven Chances, it could be because writer Clyde Bruckman worked on both films. Emil Sitka's line, "Hold hands, you lovebirds," was immortalized in Pulp Fiction -- it can be heard while John Travolta is pumping a hypodermic full of adrenaline into the overdosed Uma Thurman. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Africa Screams
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello temporarily leave their usual Universal stamping grounds to star in the Huntington Hartford production Africa Screams. Costello plays the colorfully inept Stanley Livingstone, a meek book salesman who poses as a big-game hunter at the behest of his shifty pal Buzz Johnson (Abbott). It's all part of a scheme to extract some money from adventuress Diana Emerson (Hillary Brooke), who intends to search for a lost diamond mine in the heart of Africa. It seems that Stanley has committed to memory a long out-of-print book which contained a map to the mine. Despite his mortal fear of wild animals, Stanley accompanies Buzz, Diana, and Diana's henchmen on the African expedition. The subsequent comic complications involve a legendary giant gorilla, a cannibal tribe, and a friendly orangutan who falls in love with Stanley. Animal trainer Clyde Beatty and big-game tracker Frank Buck make cameo appearances while character comics Shemp Howard and Joe Besser provide laughs as, respectively, a nearsighted gunman and a sissified flunky. Also on hand are boxer brothers Max Baer and Buddy Baer, who engage in an amusingly unconvincing display of fisticuffs. But the film belongs to Abbott & Costello, who are in fine form. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Sing a Song of Six Pants
According to their storefront, The Three Stooges are "unaccustomed tailors" who do "Cleaning, pressing and altercations." But maybe not for long -- their equipment is in danger of being repossessed. When they hear that bank robber Terry Hargan is on the loose and there's a reward for his capture, Shemp believes that's their way out of debt. Moe is dubious but the crook actually does dash into the store while running from a detective. He poses among a group of mannequins and the oblivious Stooges strip him of his suit. Hargan shows up at his hideout in his underwear, but it's no laughing matter -- the combination to the next safe he has to crack was in his pants. The result of his attempts to get that slip of paper back is a melee between the Stooges and the crooks. The crooks are no match for the Stooges and the detective arrives just in time to handcuff the unconscious Hargan. The Stooges' reward turns out to be tickets to the policeman's ball, but all is not lost -- they ! snatch a wad of hundreds (and a fifty) from Hargan's coat. Much footage from this comedy -- and the whole substance of its plot -- was recycled for the Stooges 1953 picture, Rip, Sew and Stitch. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Jerk of All Trades
Disorder in the Court
Directed by Jack White (under his usual pseudonym of Preston Black), this two-reel courtroom caper is, by many, regarded as the best of the Three Stooges' early comedies. Moe, Larry, and Curly are witnesses in a murder trial involving a dancer (Suzanne Kaaren) from "The Black Bottom Cafe," the club where they work. Curly is called on the stand to explain "Who killed Kirk Robin?" and the rest is pandemonium. Court clerk James C. Morton's toupee is mistaken for a tarantula, a supposedly unloaded revolver kills Moe's boutonniere, the entire courtroom becomes the victim of an errand fire hose, and the real killer is proven to be the hoofer Buck Wing, who in the meantime has shuffled off to Buffalo. Moe and Curly's real-life parents are briefly spotted among the courtroom spectators. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Jack and the Beanstalk
In 1952, the comedy team of Abbott and Costello entered into a joint agreement with producer Alex Gottlieb and Warner Brothers, whereby two color musical comedies would be produced: Bud Abbott would serve as producer--owner of one of the films, while Lou Costello would do same for the other. Costello's contribution to this agreement was Jack and the Beanstalk, a kiddie-matinee adaptation of the famed fairy tale. Constructed along the lines of The Wizard of Oz, the film begins in black and white. Jack (Costello) is a professional baby-sitter, while Dink (Abbott) is Jack's "agent." After a run-in with a gargantuan cop (Buddy Baer) and a statuesque waitress (Dorothy Ford), Jack and Dink show up at the home of Eloise Larkin (Shaye Cogan), there to look after Eloise's troublesome nephew Donald (David Stollery) while the girl and her boyfriend Arthur Royal (James Alexander) rehearse at their community theatre. While reading the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to the bratty Donald, Jack falls asleep, and begins dreaming himself, and his cohorts, into the story as the impoverished boy sent out to sell the family cow. While en route to town with his cow, he encounters a shady butcher (Abbott) who bilks him out of his broken-down bovine for the price of a few 'magic' beans. In keeping with the traditional tale, Jack plants the beans and from them a magnificent vine grows and reaches into the clouds. Along with the butcher, Jack climbs into a fantastic world inhabited by a terrifying giant (Baer) and other magical creatures, including a gold egg-laying hen, a singing harp, and a distressed prince and princess. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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