|The Three Stooges
|From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons: The Three Stooges
by Michael Fleming
|Country of origin
The Three Stooges is an American biographical comedy television film about the slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges directed by James Frawley. The film was entirely shot in Sydney, Australia. It was broadcast on ABC on April 24, 2000.
The film is a biography of the Three Stooges following their careers and rise to fame as shown through the eyes of their leader, Moe Howard. This movie breaks away from the traditionally humorous Three Stooges format and has more of a serious undertone throughout.
The film opens in 1959 with an aging Moe Howard running errands for his former agent Harry Romm on the studio lot at Columbia Pictures. A young television executive from Boston has traveled to L.A. to convince Moe and the Stooges to come back East and perform their act live in theatres and on television, but Moe is not interested. The film then flashes back to 1925, when comedian Ted Healy hires the Howard brothers for his vaudeville act.
Healy offers to add Larry Fine to the act if he drops the fiddle playing from his routine. Healy pockets most of the money, which doesn't sit well with the others. The three men decide on a trademark of each having distinct hairstyles: Moe with a bowl cut, Larry with curly frizzy hair and Curly Howard (real name Jerome, also called “Babe” by his brothers) with a crew cut. (Shemp Howard would part his hair right down the middle.)
Fox Film Corporation produces "Soup to Nuts" with Healy and the Three Stooges, along with Shemp Howard and then offers Moe a seven year contract - without Ted. Healy interferes with the deal until Harry Cohn signs The Three Stooges to Columbia in 1934. Cohn sends the act to the short films department. Moe and Larry want to do feature films, but Cohn believes that a farce comedy team should only do shorts. The group completes 190 two-reel shorts from 1934 to 1957, released until 1959. Comical sound effects are added to accent physical acts such as a slap in the face, a punch in the stomach, a pull on the nose and a hammer to the head. Curly becomes famous for his high voice and other vocal sound riffs. The movie recreates many famous iconic Stooges scenes.
The biography also shows the personal dynamics of the comedy team. The wives of the players also have a role throughout the film. Moe assumes the role of leader, but to the point that Babe feels bullied. Babe says he has no problem with Moe picking on “Curly” for the act, but off stage they are still a family. Meanwhile, Larry frequently loses money as a result of his gambling.
Ted Healy, having parted with the team earlier in a bitter way, reappears later to shake hands with the group and announce that he is going to be a father. He dies later that night after a fight in his hotel at the young age of 41. Babe is injured and humiliated in a hotel lobby when some young adult fans recognize him as Curly and deliver a real poke to his eyes and a punch to his face.
In 1946, Babe has a debilitating stroke while filming a scene. He is replaced by Shemp in the two-reel shorts until their respective deaths in 1952 and 1955. Shemp’s vacant role is taken over by Joe Besser for 1956 and 1957. Joe DeRita joins the troupe as “Curly Joe” in 1958. That same year, Moe & Larry report to work on the studio lot but are denied entry after learning that Harry Cohn has died of a heart attack and the short film department has been shut down.
Returning to 1959, the group discusses the proposal for the live theater show in Boston and eventually agree. To their surprise, they find new success with younger viewers through television and become one of the highest paid comedy acts in the country.
Among the shorts that were re-shot for the film are the following:
Steven Oxman of Variety wrote in a review that in the film, who the Three Stooges were and why they were funny was lost in its exposition. He explained that "the film does cover a lot for a two-hour telepic. But it also chooses information over insight, exegesis over drama, never making a case along the way for what made the Stooges such a lasting phenomenon. The final dish in this crowded kitchen has lots of quality ingredients, but almost no flavor."
The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy team active from 1922 until 1970, best remembered for their 190 short-subject films by Columbia Pictures. Their hallmark styles were physical, farce, and slapstick. Six total Stooges appeared over the act's run ; Moe Howard and Larry Fine were mainstays throughout the ensemble's nearly 50-year run, while the "third stooge" was played in turn by Shemp Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard again, Joe Besser, and "Curly Joe" DeRita.
Ted Healy was an American vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor. Though he is chiefly remembered as the creator of The Three Stooges and the style of slapstick comedy that they later made famous, he had a successful stage and film career of his own and was cited as a formative influence by several later comedy stars.
Moses Harry Horwitz, better known by his stage name Moe Howard, was an American comedian and actor. He is best known as the leader of the Three Stooges, the farce comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four decades. That group initially started out as Ted Healy and His Stooges, an act that toured the vaudeville circuit. Moe's distinctive hairstyle came about when he was a boy and cut off his curls with a pair of scissors, producing an irregular shape approximating a bowl cut.
Louis Feinberg, better known by his stage name Larry Fine, was an American comedian, actor, and musician. He is best known as a member of the comedy act the Three Stooges and was often called "The Middle Stooge".
Shemp Howard, was an American comedian and actor. He was called "Shemp" because "Sam" came out that way in his mother's thick Litvak accent.
Paul Albert "Mousie" Garner was an American actor. Garner earned his nickname by assuming the role of a shy, simpering jokester. He was one of the last actors still doing shtick from vaudeville, and has been referred to as "The Grand Old Man Of Vaudeville."
Jerome Lester Horwitz, better known by his stage name Curly Howard, was an American comedian and actor. He was as a member of the comedy team The Three Stooges, which also featured his elder brothers Moe and Shemp Howard, as well as actor Larry Fine. In early shorts, he was billed as Curley. Curly Howard was generally considered the most popular and recognizable of the Stooges.
Joseph Wardell, known professionally as Joe DeRita, was an American actor and comedian, who is best known for his stint as a member of The Three Stooges in the persona of Curly Joe DeRita.
Joe Besser was an American actor, comedian, and musician, known for his impish humor and wimpy characters. He is best known for his brief stint as a member of The Three Stooges in movie short subjects of 1957–59. He is also remembered for his television roles: Stinky, the bratty man-child on The Abbott and Costello Show, and Jillson, the maintenance man on The Joey Bishop Show.
Edward Bernds was an American screenwriter and director, born in Chicago, Illinois.
Rockin' in the Rockies is a 1945 American musical western feature film starring the Three Stooges. The picture was one of the Stooges' few feature-length films made during the run of their better-known series of short subjects for Columbia Pictures, although the group had appeared in supporting roles in other features. It is the only Stooges feature-length film with the team's best known line-up in starring roles.
Soup to Nuts is a 1930 American pre-Code comedy film written by cartoonist, sculptor, author, and inventor Rube Goldberg and directed by Benjamin Stoloff. It was the film debut of the original four members who would later, minus Ted Healy, go on to become known as The Three Stooges comic trio. Goldberg made a cameo appearance in the film as himself, opening letters in a restaurant. Several other comedians are also featured.
Have Rocket, Will Travel is a 1959 American science-fiction comedy film released by Columbia Pictures and starring the Three Stooges, consisting of Moe Howard, Larry Fine and new addition Joe DeRita. The film was produced to capitalize on the Three Stooges' late-1950s resurgence in popularity. The supporting cast features Anna-Lisa and Robert Colbert.
This is a complete list of short subjects and feature films that featured The Three Stooges released between 1930 and 1970.
Uncivil Warriors is a 1935 short subject directed by Del Lord starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the eighth entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Hoofs and Goofs is a 1957 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 175th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Sappy Bull Fighters is a 1959 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 190th and final entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians between 1934 and 1959.
Fright Night is a 1947 short subject directed by Edward Bernds starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 98th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Corny Casanovas is a 1952 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 139th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.