The Endurance of the Three Stooges
Last week the Decades Network was running three days Three Stooges programming. The reason for this marathon of all thing Stooge was to honor the 33rd anniversary of the Stooges receiving their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I thought it was somewhat a weak connection to make and to stop and honor, but who cares what the excuse was – I’m always up for Three Stooges programming for whatever reason they can think up! They could do a marathon of the Stooges everytime the date contains a ‘three’ in it and I’d accept it and be happy.
The centerpiece to this Stooge marathon was the television premiere of a nine-part Stooge documentary Hey Moe! Hey Dad!. The film is told from the perspective from Moe Howard’s son Paul who narrates and takes us through a hundred years of Stooge history. From the birth of his father and his famous brothers, to the groups early beginnings in showbiz, to working with Ted Healy, to their popular short films, the groups seemingly final act, to their unexpected resurgence thanks to television and the enduring popularity they continue to enjoy decades after their deaths.
It’s a very comprehensive doc. Possibly the most sweeping account of the Stooges history done. T’s certainly not some brief overview of the Three Stooges. Even for those who might think they know everything there is about Stooge history I think they’ll learn new things from it. I certainly did. You have to figure for close to a nine-hour documentary there’s a wealth information contained in it and that doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t just pad out its running time with clips. It provides plenty of content and enlightening stories in it. Plus, there’s some terrific rare photos and old film of all the boys. I always find it bizarre to see them looking so dapper in fancy suits outside of character.
By the way speaking of the Stooges star – is that thing cracked? In the doc they showed a photo of it and it looked likes there’s a crack in it. I googled for some pictures of it and it sure does look like there’s a crack running across it. Is that intentional? Sorta like a joke? Is it an older photo and since then they repaired it. If not they really should! Kinda nutty if no one has notified the organization that does the stars, told them about the damage and they haven’t repaired it.
I was away on vacation while this Stooge marathon was going on, but luckily they had Decades Network there and I was able to catch a lot of the doc and the other Stooge programming, which included many of their later films like when they met Hercules, went Around the World in Eighty Days and went into Orbit, along with compilations of many of their classic short films. Maybe once I get a chance to watch the whole doc uninterrupted I’ll do a review of it, but from what I saw it was worthwhile for any Stooge fan.
What’s funny about all this was I was on vacation with my group of nephews whose ages range from seven to eleven. I had already introduced them to the Stooges quite awhile ago. I would drop in to see them, pop in a Stooge dvd and tell them “sit down we’re going to see something funny!”
So, when they saw me watching some of the Stooge programming they joined in. Plus, I brought some Stooge dvd’s with me (I always keep them on hand in case these kids get bored and want to watch something). One night I popped in some Curly shorts they hadn’t seen before – Curly is their favorite Stooge – and we had a great time watching the Stooges hit, slap and eye poke each other.
I think their loudest reaction was to 1943’s I Can Hardly Wait. In that one Curly has a bad tooth so pals Moe and Larry attempt to pull it for him. It’s a simple enough premise and the nephews were howling at each failed attempt. Those kids are pretty smart though. First thing they asked was why don’t the Stooges try the door trick i.e. tying a string to Curly’s tooth and the other end to a doorknob and slamming the door closed. That will surely work! They were satisfied when the Stooges finally thought of that idea and were laughing when they screwed that one up too.
I find it amusing to hear the kids ask questions about the older Stooge films. A lot of times they’re looking for some kind of logic in their movies. I would get questioned about the continuity of the shorts. Like why in the last one they were married, but now they’re not or why aren’t they painters anymore. This movie ‘shared universe’ design that Marvel has perfected has become ingrained in this generation. So I have to explain to them that each Stooge short film is a separate story, they’re not connected to the others and the Stooges can be anything in each one. They finally got it.
But the questions will continue:
“How did the Stooges make a bunk bed three beds high? How come if they can’t invent a new airplane they have to go into the army, is that what everyone had to do? Why does the scientist ask the Stooges to guard his death ray when he sees they can’t even control a gun? When the Stooges drop the net on the bad guys don’t you think they could get out of it easy? Why wouldn’t the landlord let babies live in his building? Did the knife thrower guy kill his other volunteers so they need to use the Stooges now? Are the Stooges wearing fake beards or did they grow them in real life for this movie? Do the Stooges clean up and take breaks when they make their movies? And why were there so many gorillas running loose in the old days?
It’s pretty amazing with all the new shiny, fancy entertainment kids have nowadays to stare at, that these short films are still able to entertain kids sixty, seventy, eighty years later! Kids are laughing just as hard at Moe, Larry and Curly as they must have been when they entered a movie theater generations ago to see the newest Three Stooges short.
As the nephews saw me watching some of Hey Moe! Hey Dad! They saw pictures of Curly onscreen. They asked me what they were talking about and I explained that they’re talking about when Curly died. That news was brand new to them and I guess they never considered how very long ago the Stooges made these movies and that they’re all gone now. Hearing that their favorite Stooge was no longer living was like a revelation, with my one nephew saying, “Curly died? Poor Curly.”
I wonder if any of the Stooges ever realized what an impact they would have and how they would garner such affection from new audiences long after they would be gone. What an enduring legacy the Stooges continue to maintain. It’s a heartwarming thought to realize that every year new kids will discover them, be laughing at their antics and become devoted fans.
After enjoying an evening of Stooge shorts I asked the nephews their thoughts about the films we watched. My one nephew had a nice quote to sum up the evening.
“I love the Three Stooges, but I wouldn’t let me into our house ‘cuz they’d wreck it.”