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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Three Stooges: Stooges at Work (1938-1945)

Curly: Oh, a bonanza!
Moe: Stop thinking about food and get to work.

- Curly Howard, Moe Howard

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: January 11, 2004

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard
Other Stars: Vernon Dent, Bud Jamison, Rebel Randall, Dick Curtis, Monte Collins, Jane Hamilton, Naba
Director: Del Lord, Jules White

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (comic violence, racial stereotyping)
Run Time: 01h:26m:03s
Release Date: January 13, 2004
UPC: 043396024472
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+B- D-

DVD Review

One reliable source of comedy for the Three Stooges' knockabout antics was giving them a particular profession. This disc takes a look at five such job-oriented shorts, with the added bonus of all of them dating from the Curly years.

Several of these shorts were new to me, making them all the more welcome on DVD. Booby Dupes (1945) finds the boys as fishmongers who decide to eliminate the middleman and catch their own. Curly masquerades as a Captain (swiping Vernon Dent's uniform) and causes plenty of trouble as he tries to make time with some young ladies. The violence quotient is pretty low, with a mere four face slaps and conks on the noggin. There are quite a few familiar gags here, but the performances are good enough to keep it fresh. One of the most tired gags in the Stooges' repertoire was the venerable parrot-in-the-turkey gag and it gets trotted out again in Crash Goes the Hash. The main story centers on three janitors being mistaken for ace reporters and sent off to get the scoop on Prince Shaam (Dick Curtis). This short is notable for some wildly fancy footwork from Curly and an unusual bit of self-referential humor as Bud Jamison remarks, "You remind me of the Three Stooges." There are a whopping 24 face slaps, ten assorted blows to the head and four eye pokes, making it easily the most violent picture on the disc.

Journalism is the order of the day again in Dutiful But Dumb (1941). After botching a photo assignment, they're shipped off to Vulgaria, where photographers are shot on sight. The expected prison gags are supplemented by an extended oyster stew routine that has Curly in good form. But only one eye poke and eight bonks on the bean. More violent is How High is Up?, where the Minute Menders end up on a construction site, riveting on the 97th floor. Although there's plenty swiped from Laurel & Hardy's Liberty (1929), the Stooges also provide some new laughs high above the streets. Only one eye poke, but a moderately violent four face slaps and 19 thumps on the pumpkin.

Finally, a Stooge disc would hardly be complete without a gorilla suit, and there are two in Three Missing Links (1938). Although they again start off as actors, the boys are recognized by the Super Terrific movie studio as being dead ringers for the Missing Link and two Neanderthals, and accordingly are cast in a jungle action picture in Africa. There's some moderately racist business here with a cannibalistic medicine man who dispenses some love candies. Of course, before long, Curly in an ape suit uses them and manages to get romantically involved with a genuine gorilla (of course another suit, though not quite as poor as Curly's). A dozen knocks to the nut and one face slap is as violent as this one gets.

Although not some of the best-known or funniest Stooge shorts, this collection works together pretty well thematically. Curly in particular is in fine form, and many of the shorts are a showcase for his talents. Definitely worth checking out for any Stooges fan, casual or otherwise.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Some of the DVDs in this series have ranged from mediocre to poor, but the visual quality on this disc is one of the best yet. The source prints appear practically pristine, with only the occasional speckle visible. The first short sometimes seems slightly out of focus in places, but in others it's got fine texture and clarity, so the original camera work may just be suspect. The black and white shorts all have very good greyscales and solid blacks. Ringing was occasionally visible to a slight degree, but far less than the usual Columbia offering. Overall very nice indeed.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Columbia scales the audio tracks back to just the original English for this disc, with the five shorts here presented in a 2.0 mono. Dialogue is quite clear, with hiss kept to very mild levels. The theme music has the expected tinniness but overall this is quite acceptable for such material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras. Columbia thoughtfully provides a "Play All" button, which I don't recall being a constant feature on these discs, but certainly a welcome one for complete Stooge immersion. Only one chapter stop per short, however.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Five Curly shorts, with a better-than-usual transfer make this a definite winner. But don't be looking for extras here.


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