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The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 4: 1943-1945 [2 Discs] [DVD]

Release Date:10/07/2008
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    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (6 out of 6)

    Special Features

    • Closed Captioned


    Dizzy Pilots
    The Three Stooges, as the Wrong Bothers, aided the war effort by inventing a new plane in this below-average two-reel comedy. Actually, they are attempting to avoid the draft but when their plane, the Buzzard, fails miserably, they march off to war. Richard Fiske, formerly a busy supporting player in Stooges comedies, appeared in this two-reeler courtesy of stock footage from the earlier Boobs in Arms (1940). Ironically, Fiske had himself been drafted and would be killed in action in France in August of 1944. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Spook Louder
    Jules White, the head of the short subjects department at Columbia, steered quite a few Three Stooges comedies into propaganda territory during World War II. While not as forcefully patriotic as some of the others, this quirky short (directed by Del Lord) takes a few potshots at the Japanese. It opens in the offices of special investigator J.O. Dunkfeather, who is being interviewed by a high-strung young reporter. Dunkfeather proceeds to tell him the story of three traveling salesmen -- Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard, of course -- who wind up working as caretakers for Graves, an inventor, after they have no luck peddling their "Miracle Reducing Machine." Graves has to go to Washington with his Death Ray, and he leaves his spooky mansion in the hands of the salesmen. He warns them to be on the lookout for "Jap" spies, who show up as soon as he leaves. As disguises, the spies (who, incidentally, don't look at all Japanese) are wearing Halloween costumes and this is enough to terrorize the Stooges for the rest of the film. There's also another baffling dilemma -- pies come seemingly out of nowhere and hit various people in the face. The reporter anxiously demands to know who was throwing the pies -- he seems to care more about this than the fact that the Stooges manage to stop the spies (which is pretty miraculous, considering the boys' perennial ineptitude). Finally Dunkfeather admits he was the culprit... and promptly is slammed in the face with a pie. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    Idle Roomers
    Although this isn't one of the better Three Stooges shorts, it still has its moments. The boys play bellhops at "Hotel Snazzy Plaza," and fight with each other to get an opportunity to give special service to an attractive woman. Unfortunately, she has a mean-tempered husband who happens to be a knife thrower. He is also secretly importing a wolf man -- he assures his wife that the monster is not dangerous unless he hears music. Later on, when the Stooges are cleaning up the room, they turn on the radio, which enrages the wolf man who breaks free from his cage. The creature disturbs a couple of sleeping women, and one of them reports him as a burglar. The Stooges cause quite a bit of wreckage either pursuing or being pursued by the creature, and there is one really great moment where the wolf man mirrors Curly's actions from the other side of a frame which has lost its mirror. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    Crash Goes the Hash
    While not among their very best, this Three Stooges short is loaded with funny moments. Fuller Bull (Vernon Dent), managing editor of the Daily News, has just fired all his reporters because they have no information on the immanent wedding of Prince Shaam of Ubeedarn to the widowed socialite, Mrs. Van Bustle. Instead he hires three men who he believes to be reporters from the Star -- they're actually the Stooges, who work for Star Cleaners and Pressers. But no matter -- the boys make their way into the Van Bustle home by posing as a chef and two butlers. The head butler (Bud Jamison) is amused by their antics at first, but then they make a disaster out of dinner, thinking canapés means a can-a-peas, and a parrot flies into the turkey, which seemingly comes to life (a gag used several times in Stooges films). They also discover that the Prince is a phony, in league with the head butler to rob the widow. After knocking the thieving pair unconscious, the Stooges bring an exclusive scoop back to the Daily News. Mrs. Van Bustle is so grateful that she decides she'll marry Curly. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    No Dough Boys
    During WWII, many Three Stooges shorts were more than just a little propaganda-laden. It may be painful now to watch the Japanese stereotypes and jokes, but at the time Americans found it necessary to drum up as much hatred as possible for their adversaries. Here, the Stooges are playing Japanese soldiers in a commercial. They are given but a 15-minute lunch break, not enough time to change their costumes, so they head for a diner in their uniforms. This unnerves the diner's owner, who has just read a news item about a Japanese sub which has been sunk off the coast. Three of the crew have escaped, and while the Stooges' makeup wouldn't fool anybody with common sense, the owner is convinced they are the spies. He battles the Stooges, who fight back and dash into a house with a secret panel. Behind the panel is a Nazi spy (Vernon Dent) and his three female helpers (one of them is Christine McIntyre). They know right away that the Stooges are not the spies, but they let them stick around, hoping to find out what they want. At the spies' request, the Stooges perform a wild acrobatic act. Eventually the real Japanese crew shows up and a fracas ensues. After a lengthy battle, the Stooges emerge victorious. They rip off the clothes of the unconscious Nazi spy to reveal that he is wearing long underwear with a swastika print. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    If a Body Meets a Body
    Written, produced, and directed by the White brothers, Jules and Jack, this two-reeler starred the Three Stooges in a traditional haunted house setting. They arrive at the spooky mansion for the reading of a will, only to find the lawyer murdered. Locked up with the rest of the potential heirs, the three dimwits learn the hard way that "the butler did it."Opening with an almost too realistic murder, the comedy never really gets back on the laugh track. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Three Little Twirps
    The Three Stooges were still in their prime when this short (the last one of theirs directed by Harry Edwards) was filmed. Larry, Moe and Curly play the most inept poster hangers imaginable and they are caught by their boss just as Curly is tearing his head through one of the posters. It turns out that their pay only consists of tickets to the circus, but when Curly gets his hands on an additional roll, the boys decide to make some cash by selling them at a discount. They are caught by the circus owner and the sheriff, who chase them through the place. Curly winds up in the tent of the bearded lady, who thinks he is her blind date. Then he and Larry hide in a horse costume, which a myopic Chester Conklin mistakes for a real horse that is to be fed to the lions. Ultimately the Stooges are all caught, but instead of sending them to jail, the circus owner hires them to be human targets for the spear-throwing "Sultan of Abudaba." When Curly throws one of the spears back, ! the Sultan (who looks more like a native wildman than a sultan) chases him onto a tightrope. Moe and Larry hold out a net and tell Curly to jump. But the net is actually a paper disc and Curly falls right through, making a deep hole in the ground. Larry and Moe jump in after him, thus eluding their foes. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    Dizzy Detectives
    Gorillas, both fake and (supposedly) real, play a big part in this amusing Three Stooges comedy two-reeler. The boys are policemen masquerading as night watchmen in an attempt to trap a burglar dressed in a gorilla suit. They catch a gorilla, all right, but the beast proves to be real. The denouement is appropriately violent; the ferocious simian blows up after ingesting nitroglycerin. John Tyrrell, probably Columbia Pictures' busiest character actor, earned a major spot in this two-reeler, playing the wanted burglar. The studio liked the plot enough to remake it twice: Fraidy Cat (1951) and Hook a Crook (1955), both starring Joe Besser, who in 1956, replaced Shemp Howard as the third Stooge. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    The Yoke's on Me
    In this patriotic two-reel comedy, the Three Stooges are labeled 4-F by the draft board, aiding the war effort instead by becoming farmers. Operating a run down ostrich ranch, the Stooges manage to catch a group of Japanese escapees. Rustic comedians Bob McKenzie and Emmett Lynn joined the Stooges in one of the team's lesser efforts. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Booby Dupes
    In this, their second two-reel comedy of 1945, the Three Stooges play fishmongers who decide to buy a boat and catch their own fish. Unfortunately, their "new" boat proves to be an old wreck and sinks in the middle of the ocean. Surviving on a dinghy, the Stooges wave a paint-splattered flag to attract attention. Unfortunately, the rag resembles the Japanese flag and the attention they attract is not what they had anticipated. Brunette Columbia starlet Rebel Randall joined regular Stooges performers Vernon Dent and John Tyrrell in this otherwise average comedy short. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    A Gem of a Jam
    This clever Three Stooges comedy opens, like many of their films do, with a sign: "Drs. Heart-Burns and Belcher." But that's not referring to the Stooges -- they're merely the night janitors, and not very good ones. They have the usual round of mishaps, the funniest being when Curly gets his head stuck in a fish bowl. Even after Larry and Moe free him from the globe, he's not quite right, so they stick him behind the fluoroscope and discover he has swallowed a fish. They retrieve it by sticking a fishing line -- with bait -- down his throat. Their work is further interrupted by a trio of crooks. While escaping the police, one of them was shot in the shoulder, and they insist that the Stooges -- who they have mistaken for doctors -remove the slug. The wounded crook insists on being anesthetized, which confuses the trio until they're told, "That means he wants to be knocked out!" "Ohhh---" they reply knowingly, and they knock him cold with a hammer. But the wounded crook slides off the gurney, out the window and into a waiting police car. To fool the other two gun men (who apparently aren't much smarter than the Stooges), Moe and Larry stick Curly under the sheet. The police finally show up looking for the crooks and both the gunmen and Stooges go running. While the crooks are nabbed, the Stooges wind up in a strange storage area with a bunch of mannequins, a gigantic, spooky jack-in-the-box, a frightened night watchman and a vat of plaster. Curly falls into the plaster and his ghostly white visage scares everyone he encounters until the short comes to a rather abrupt end. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    Back from the Front
    The Three Stooges join the war effort in this two-reel comedy when they board an enemy submarine masquerading as Hitler (Moe), Goebbels (Larry), and Göring (Curly). With their unique brand of anarchy, the Stooges soon take over the vessel. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Higher Than a Kite
    The Three Stooges are literally dropped on wartime Berlin in this two-reel comedy, one of their weakest. They play auto mechanics hiding from an enemy in what they think is a pipe. It is actually a bomb and soon they find themselves, unscathed, behind enemy lines. They disguise themselves as German officers, dallies with a pretty fraülein and steal enemy secrets from under the nose of Axis General Bommel (Vernon Dent). ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Busy Buddies
    When their short-order restaurant -- The Jive Cafe -- only serves up mounting bills, the Three Stooges enter Curly in a cow-milking contest. Busy Buddies was one of the team's lesser two-reel comedies and demonstrated only too well that a hectic schedule was taking its toll on especially Curly, whose baby face was beginning to show the strain. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Gents Without Cents
    Columbia's shorts producer (and sometime Stooges director), Jules White, was especially fired up with the patriotic spirit during World War II. Like many Three Stooges comedies made in the early '40s, this one has quite a number of references to the war. It begins with the boys working on their skit -- the famous "slowly I turned, step by step..." routine. But they can't complete it because of the banging that is going on upstairs. They charge up there to harangue the noisemakers only to find themselves face to face with three lovely acrobatic dancers, Mary, Flo and Shirley (the trio Lindsay, Laverne and Betty). The girls accompany the Stooges while they audition for agent Manny Wells, who sends them over to the Noazark Shipbuilding Company to entertain the defense workers. They do all of the Niagara Falls skit (and it's interesting to note that Larry clearly flubs a line), but then Wells gets word that the headliners, Castor and Earl have canceled. The Stooges and the girls offer to take their place and save the day. Wells is so grateful he offers to send the boys to Broadway -- but the girls won't let them go until they get hitched. The last scene finds them all on their honeymoon, headed for -- Niagara Falls. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    They Stooge to Conga
    While The Three Stooges made a number of propaganda-laced comedies during World War II, the Axis references are relatively slight here until the end. It starts off with the threesome offering their services as "Fix-All Fixers." A frighteningly plain woman calls them over to fix a broken doorbell. What the Stooges don't realize is that the house belongs to a Nazi/Japanese spy ring which is giving out orders to a submarine somewhere out in the ocean. While the spies are at work so are the Stooges, who are going about their usual business and completely demolishing the house. After ripping apart several walls they realize the problem is in the wiring outside and after a few mishaps, Curly climbs up the nearest telephone pole and starts in on the wires. This disconnects the telephone service for miles around (look really quick -- Lloyd Bridges is one of the disgruntled customers). They also screw up communication to the submarine, which promptly becomes the victim of an Allied bomb (much of the footage here is lifted from 1939's Three Little Sew and Sews). Eventually the boys wind up back in the house and discover they've infiltrated an Axis spy den. Moe disguises himself as Hitler and Larry dresses like Tojo, and they manage to slapstick the enemy into defeat. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    I Can Hardly Wait
    From the references to "Japs" and rations, it's clear that this is one of the Three Stooges shorts filmed during World War II. The boys are defense workers who build airplanes. They've finished for the day and are frying up some ham and eggs, to be divided evenly. Curly complains about his portion, but Moe points out that while he and Larry have only half the eggs and half the ham each, Curly has a whole eggshell and a whole bone. This satisfies him until he cracks a tooth on the bone, which gives him a toothache that won't go away. Even after the boys go to bed -- in a three-tier bunk -- Curly is moaning and complaining, which keeps the other two awake. Moe and Larry try various means to get the tooth out, including a fishing line, and tying the tooth to a door knob (it pulls the knob out from the door). Nothing works so the next day the boys go to Y. Tug and A. Yank dentists. There's a mix up at the office, and while Larry is trying to make time with the receptionist, Moe winds up the dentists chair, knocked out and having his tooth pulled instead of Curly. When he comes to, he's steaming mad and as he starts to let Curly have it, Curly wakes up in his own bed -- it was all a dream. But the ordeal isn't finished -- he crashes through his spot on the top bunk down to Moe on the bottom. Moe slugs him, neatly knocking out the tooth, and the boys go back to sleep. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    A little over a year after this Three Stooges short was made, Curly Howard would suffer a stroke and go into retirement. But even though he was often ill during this period, he still did some of the best work of his career. He's in top form for this comedy, a favorite among Stooge fanatics. The Stooges are not-very-handy handymen who decide they'd rather play around in a recording studio than fix a radiator. An aspiring singer (Christine McIntyre) has just recorded "The Voices of Spring," and Curly does a fine job of lip synching to the record. He's overheard by a society matron who is looking for a singer for her "Krispy Krunchy" program; after the Stooges dub Curly "Señorita Cucaracha," he gets the job. He goes over to the matron's home that night to perform with his accompanists -- "Señor Mucho" (Larry Fine) and "Señor Gusto" (Moe Howard). When one of the performers from the radio station tries to sing, the boys shoot cherries into his mouth so that he chokes. The performer gets back at them by unplugging the record player during Curly's performance. However, the "Voices of Spring" singer is at the party and she helps them out. The ruse is discovered and the young singer's talent wins the approval of her father. The Stooges, meanwhile, are chased off in a shower of records. This was the second Stooges short to be directed by Edward Bernds, but the first to be released -- Curly was ill and performed poorly in A Bird in the Head, the initial short. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    Idiots Deluxe
    The Three Stooges co-star with a bear for much of this short. It begins in a courtroom where Moe is on trial for assaulting Curly and Larry (one wonders why this premise didn't occur earlier to any of the Columbia shorts writers). "I'm a sick man," Moe insists, and he tells his story -- his nerves are shot and he has been on any number of medications and elixirs in an attempt to calm them. Unfortunately, he's living with Larry and Curly, who are "The Original Two-Man Quartet," and their rehearsals are nothing less than jarring. After Moe wraps the slide to the trombone around Curly's neck, they all decide to find peace and quiet by going hunting in the forest. According to Larry, they've found the perfect spot -- there's a sign that says it's "fine for hunting." But their attempts to commune with nature mostly involve just one bear, who eats the food off their table when Moe's not looking, and then scares the bejeezus out of all of them. When they jump in their car to escape the beast, it's in the back seat. Everyone bails from the car, except the bear, who takes about 50 yards to wreck it. Back in the courtroom, Moe has finished this sorry tale and the sympathetic judge lets him off. Moe is given back "Exhibit A" -- his ax -- and he chases Larry and Curly out of the courtroom with it. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

    Three Pests in a Mess
    In their first two-reel comedy of 1945, the Three Stooges mistakenly believe that Curly killed a man (actually a store mannequin) and attempt to dispose of the body in, of all things, a pet cemetery. Three Pests in a Mess is actually a remake of El Brendel's 1941 two-reeler Ready, Willing but Unable. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Phony Express
    In spite of its name, Peaceful Gulch is riddled by bullets and bad guys. The sheriff needs some men either brave enough or stupid enough to get rid of the varmints. When he sees a wanted poster for The Three Stooges (their crime is vagrancy and the reward is fifty cents, or three for a dollar), he decides to go the latter route. Although he plants an item in the paper claiming they're famous marshalls, the boys are almost chased out of town after an encounter with a medicine show. The sheriff finally puts them in charge of guarding the bank, which gets robbed while their backs are turned. To avoid being lynched, the Stooges scour the nearby area, using Curly as a bloodhound. Eventually they find the stolen money under the floorboards of a cabin and capture the bad guys with the use of bear traps. But the main varmint (the ever-dependable Bud Jamison) enters the cabin and Curly has to hide with the loot in the stove. The bandit drops his cigar in the stove which sets off the bullets in Curly's gun belt. The wildly spinning stove sends off a hail of gunfire for an abrupt ending. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

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