Combustible Celluloid
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With: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Dee Green, Christine McIntyre, Doris Colleen, Alyn Lockwood, Stanley Price, Philip Van Zandt, Robert Williams, Vernon Dent
Written by: Clyde Bruckman, Felix Adler, Edward Bernds, Gilbert Pratt
Directed by: Edward Bernds, Jules White
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 137
Date: 18/03/2013

The Three Stooges: Hapless Half-Wits (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Room Soivice

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Once again Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents four totally restored "Three Stooges" shorts. This set includes Brideless Groom (1947), which had fallen into public domain and can be easily compared to any number of inferior transfers. Brideless Groom is a keeper, with its unofficial adaptation of an old Roi Cooper Megrue play, made famous by Buster Keaton's Seven Chances (1925). Shemp Howard discovers that he can inherit a fortune if he is married by the end of the day. At first he can't find a willing partner, but when news of the money gets out, it's chaos. Curly Howard stars in two of the oddest shorts; in Beer Barrel Polecats (1945), the Stooges are arrested for bootlegging beer, but an increasing series of accidents keeps them in jail despite their innocence (it ends with the aged Stooges finally getting out of jail sometime in the distant future). And I'll Never Heil Again (1941) is a fascinating, partially brave, partially misguided, partially naïve spoof of Hitler and his minions (probably inspired by Chaplin's The Great Dictator). Shemp appears again in Dopey Dicks (1949), which eventually turns into one of their enjoyable "haunted house" comedies. There are no extras, but the superb quality of these shorts is reason enough for any fan to take a look. To help hype the new disc, however Sony offers the four shorts in "Chroma Choice," which allows the viewer to toggle back and forth between colorized and the original black-and-white. The box boasts "Funnier in color!"

Note: The box advertises "Includes Two Shemp Classics!" -- which might indicate two extra shorts, but there are still only four. True Stooges fans tend to prefer Curly to Shemp, so I can't imagine what the Sony people were thinking with this blurb.

Best Buy Co, Inc.