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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Three Stooges: Dizzy Doctors (1937-1953)

"You wouldn't hit a lady with that! Use this, it's bigger."
- Moe Howard, in Brideless Groom

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 21, 2001

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard
Other Stars: Dee Green, Christine McIntyre, Doris Colleen, Kitty McHugh, Vernon Dent, Emil Sitka, Margie Liszt
Director: Del Lord, Edward Berndts, Jules White

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (comic violence)
Run Time: 1h:40m:34s
Release Date: August 21, 2001
UPC: 043396058934
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB+B- D-

DVD Review

What is there about slapstick that many find so hilarious? Is it the feeling of superiority at seeing a couple of knuckleheads beating the tar out of each other, set to wacky sound effects? Or is there an appeal to the lizard brain that glories in such stuff? I can't begin to say, but I do know that no one mastered the form better than the Three Stooges, who are to my mind the funniest film comedians who ever lived.

Collected here are six of the group's two-reel comedies for Columbia, in the sixth volume released thus far by Columbia Tristar Home Video. Only two feature Curly, with the other four featuring Shemp after Curly's stroke and death. While Curly's natural talent is obvious, I have to confess a fondness for Shemp as well. He definitely had a tough act to follow, and adopted numerous Curly bits of business and made them his own. Unlike Curly's man-child, Shemp seems like a grown man who is simply hapless and beaten upon by circumstance, a characteristic not unlike the personae of Chaplin and Keaton. This disc spotlights some of Shemp's better work with the Stooges, as well as a couple of gems from Curly, so both opinions can be satisfied here.

Dizzy Doctors (1937) features the trio as salesmen for the tonic Brighto. Oblivious of the fact it's medicine, they attempt to hawk it on the streets as a cleaner with predictably disastrous results. Once set straight on the nature of their product, they invade a hospital and work on dispensing their wares there, infuriating the staff. The short climaxes with an extended (and undercranked) chase scene that features plenty of knockabout. One of the better Stooge shorts, it features a full 11 conks on the head, three eye pokes and even a pie in the face, as well as a multitude of face slaps.

The next year found them as the Acme Exterminators in Termites of 1938. When they are accidentally called instead of the Acme Escort Service, the boys manage to gain entry to a high society party. In their usual deflation of stuffed shirts, the Stooges end up as models of etiquette at the dinner table, which makes for a lot of laughs. Winding things up, they take on the extermination project and completely wreck the house. Although containing quite a few good bits, there is a fair amount of padding in the dinner sequence. The "pull the wiring through the wall" gag is trotted out again here. A decent effort, although Curly isn't displayed to his best here. Less violent than most, with only one conk to the head, and no eye pokes.

A staple of Stooges tapes is the public-domain Brideless Groom (1947), featuring Shemp as a music teacher. In another staple situation, Shemp is set to inherit half a million dollars if he gets married within seven hours. Of course, the women Shemp knows reject him before he can mention the money, until they find out and all show up at once at the justice of the peace. The violence here is almost entirely on the part of the women, who mercilessly take on the Stooges and give them what for. One conk on the head, but plenty of other mayhem here. This is one of the funniest Shemp shorts, and it looks far better here than I've ever seen it.

The boys are always finding themselves in trouble with the law, and Listen, Judge (1952) is no exception. They begin in court, charged with vagrancy and chicken theft, narrowly escaping jail to return to their work as "Jiffy Fix-It" men. They begin by 'repairing' a doorbell and end up practically demolishing the house in typical Stooge fashion. The wire through the wall shows up here again, with a few amusing variations from the version in Termites. Of course, it's the judge's house, and the boys are right back in hot water again. The violence quotient is upped a bit, with seven conks to the head.

Bubble Trouble (1952) is a remake of the Curly short All Gummed Up. Here, the boys are pharmacists faced with eviction by their landlord, old Mr. Flint. He, in turn, is leaving his aged wife to find a younger woman. Luckily for Mrs. Flint (Christina McIntyre), the Stooges have more or less perfected a youth formula, which she takes. Amazingly enough, it works! When Mr. Flint spies her, he demands more of the serum for himself, but it has unforeseen effects when taken by a man. This short is brought down by the shabby makeup and poor old-age acting from the supporting cast. The old reliable guys-in-gorilla-suits is trotted out as well. The series was showing its age at this point, with remakes of classic shorts as pale imitations. The gum-chewing set piece isn't particularly funny and feels interminable. The gorilla suit thing is sad as well. The only redeeming feature is the heightened violence quota, with fifteen conks to the head, an eye poke and a pie to the face.

The final short is The Tooth Will Out (1953), which finds the boys accidentally enrolled in a one-week dental school. Upon fraudulent graduation, they head for the western town of Coyote Pass, where they ply their trade. While the dental school antics are pretty funny, the western section falls flat. This is the weakest short on the disc. It does, however, feature five conks to the head, so all is not lost.

Note: The running time is happily more than 10 minutes longer than the keepcase suggests.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The picture is quite pleasing. There is substantial grain throughout. This is probably an artifact of the cheapness with which these films were made. Some light speckling is visible, and a couple of jumps, but in all it's not bad. Black levels are very good. Dizzy Doctors occasionally looks a little dupey and lacking in clarity, as if it were assembled from more than one source. The later Shemp shorts all look quite good, with Brideless Groom looking fabulous, in sharp contrast to its usual PD appearances. I've never seen this look so good. I doubt that these shorts will look much better short of a major restoration effort.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanish, Portugueseno


Audio Transfer Review: Most of the shorts feature a fair amount of hiss and background noise. This is most pronounced on Termites. Bubble Trouble sounds the best, with hiss and noise at quite low levels. The sound is tolerably good, however, and the dialogue is nearly always clear and readily understandable. Oddly, although there are Spanish and Portuguese tracks, there is no French audio track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As is the case with the other discs in this series, there are no extras. Chaptering is limited to one per short, and there is no 'play all' option on this disc. This requires a trip to the menu in between each short, which is rather annoying if you want a Stooges overdose. Plenty of subtitles are included (with French in the mix this time), though the subtitles don't make an attempt at the gibberish ingredients in the formula in Bubble Trouble.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Stooge devotees will find much to like here; the low quotient of Curly shorts is a little disappointing, but there's plenty of slapstick and general dopiness to amuse all but the most sober. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

 


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