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It's a fact of life: Men think the Three Stooges are hilarious, and most
women just don't get them. But women might want to give them a second
after seeing this touching biography.
The thing that struck me most about the Three Stooges movie was its tone. This was a film made by people who genuinely cared about the Three Stooges, people who wanted to express their appreciation by giving the world a glimpse of the men behind the laughs. The Stooges were comic geniuses, but they were human and fragile, just like the rest of us. Sure it was sappy at times, and sometimes seemed to gloss over or omit certain events, but hey--you can't show thirty years in two hours without missing something. Especially poignant was the relationship between Moe and his "little" brother Curly.
Told mostly in flashbacks, The Three Stooges follows the boys from their Vaudeville days with Ted Healy to their triumphant return to the stage after the first TV showing of their two-reel shorts. The reality was that Columbia pictures was making a mint off the Stooges films, but their contract cut them out of any profit-sharing. Anxious to get back to the stage and enjoy some of the fame they've earned, Moe, Larry, and Joe "Curly Joe" DeRita agree to make the first of many personal appearances at a TV station. The final scene has Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe taking the stage for the first time in years.
I'm not ashamed to admit it: When the curtain went up and the surviving Stooges looked out at the packed house, I cried. Maybe because the Stooges are a part of my history--a good and happy part--the way they're a part of the history of every kid who grew up watching their antics.
It's not perfect, but it's the best there is. At the very least, it's a good Stooges primer and a stepping stone to further Stooge research. The Stooges will never go away, because let's face it: As long as men are men, the Three Stooges will be their comic heroes.
I did like the fact that the film didn't dwell so much on the comedy
part of the Stooges.. although the re-creation of some of their classic
routines was excellent.. The film was entertaining because it was a
story about the Howard brothers.. Not to forget Larry.
I was fortunate to meet Larry when I was a child. He was doing a personal appearance at Hess's Department store .. and as a 7 year old who loved seeing the Stooges on TV.. he was a very nice and also a very gracious man.
I do think that it could have been a bit longer .. the film seemed to rush from Curly's stroke in 1947.. right to 1955 with very little about Shemp.. Also there was very little about Joe DeRita..
However all in all .. a very enjoyable film.. even for the non-stooges fan.. whoever you are :)
One of the better biographical TV movies, "The Three Stooges" suffers
from the main failing that most such movies do: taking "liberties" with
the facts. There are few things more annoying than watching a movie
about people you know something about, and seeing an incident or event
portrayed as having occurred that you KNOW never happened, or
information given as "fact" when you KNOW it is completely wrong, and
that happens several times in this film. Overall, though, it was
somewhat better than I expected it to be. Paul Ben-Victor was very,
very good as Moe. He had Moe's "Stooge" character down pat, and was
surprisingly effective with Moe's off-screen character, although he
didn't play Moe as quite the savvy businessman he was in real
life--most of the Stooges' real money was made in personal appearances,
and Moe made certain that some of Larry's and Curly's income was
invested for their future, as they were both notoriously loose with
their money (Curly on women, Larry on horses). Although the film for
some reason shows Moe as living a sort of lower-middle class existence
after his career ended, in reality he had made some shrewd investments
over the years and by the time the Stooges broke up, he was a very
Michael Chiklis had the most difficult job--Curly has always been everyone's favorite Stooge, and most viewers would be paying a lot more attention to how he played Curly than how the other two actors played their characters. To Chiklis' credit, he acquitted himself extremely well. Curly, like his fellow comics Lou Costello and Oliver Hardy, was quite graceful for a heavyset man--they'd have to be, to do the kind of physical comedy they did--and Chiklis shared that trait, too. He also had Curly's mannerisms and voice patterns down pat, although his voice wasn't quite as high-pitched as Curly's was. Overall, Chiklis did a terrific job.
The one thing that really did surprise me, though, was how badly Columbia Pictures, and especially studio owner Harry Cohn, came across--and deservedly so, given the studio's shabby treatment of the Stooges and how it screwed them out of untold amounts of money. I figured that the filmmakers would pretty much whitewash, or at best just gloss over, Columbia's almost criminal treatment of the comedy team that basically put the studio on the map, but they didn't do that at all, which was refreshing.
If you're a Stooges fan you'll definitely like this movie, and even if you're not, it's a pretty good story of one of the most beloved comedy teams in film history. Check it out.
In all the comments I have read before this one, not one mention of the
responsible for the production was Australian actor, Mel Gibson. Gibson,
life-long fan of the Stooges, was the executive Producer of the Film and
up most of the money for the production.(He even did a Stooges routine in
the opening scene of Lethal Weapon). And it was filmed entirely in
Australia. It is a shame that no American Studio thought enough of them
make the film.
The film was a wonderful tribute to the Stooges and the portrayals were magnificent. Here it is two years later and the movie is still not available on Video. How fortunate I was to tape the movie (less commercials), so that I have enjoyed it time and again since I first saw it. I do hope ABC will repeat it or Cable will pick it up to screen on the TRUE Channel.
Seeing this ABC TV Movie changed the way I looked at the Stooges. I still found them to be very funny (who didn't?) but this showed how they were really ripped off. Paul Ben-Victor, Evan Handler, Michael Chiklis and Jon Kassir do an excellent job of portraying the famous Stooges. This was a drama about the classic funny men. It really was a sad tv movie with not as much humor as you might expect. On the bright side, the film's ending was on a high note for the Stooges.
My father always loved The Three Stooges. He would often pay full price at a matinée just because they were showing one of the Stooges shorts. So you might say that I grew up in a house where Moe Larry and Curley were a revered prescence. I recently got a chance to see this film on the AMC channel and it is a really fascinating biography of the comedy trio that has become one of our cultural icons. After all, when your talking about three stupid people you know, haven't you often said "they are a regular Moe, Larry and Curley". There was an auction a few years back of historical photos and I wanted to share an interesting tidbit. There was a photo of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and one of The Three Stooges. The Stooges photo brought four times the price of the Presidential photo! Paul Ben Victor gives a fine performance as Moe in this film. It begins in the late 1950's after the Stooges were considered "washed up". A young man tries to get him interested in a reunion and Moe rebuffs him at first but eventually warms to the idea. You sense Moe's bitterness at the way the Stooges were treated. Our greatest comedy teams like Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy were allowed to make feature films while the Stooges were just "banished" to short films. I feel that the studio system, most notably Columbia's tyranical President Harry Cohn, were terrible in the way they treated Moe Larry and Curley. They cheated them out of a fortune and it is particularly galling when you think of the outrageous sums of money they pay people like Jim Carrey today. It was only in the 1960's that the Stooges were allowed to make feature films, in one of them, for you trivia lovers, they co-starred with Adam West. Can you imagine that, The Three Stooges Meet Batman! The person who really made this film for me is Michael Chiklis as Curly. The people who know him best as the brutal and corrupt cop on The Shield would get the shock of their life if they could see him as our favorite Stooge. He captures Curley perfectly to the smallest mannerism. The re-enactments in this film of the shorts are taken word per word and it is just amazing. The tragic thing is that Curley and Shemp both died very young, Curley of a stroke and Shemp of a heart attack. Chiklis should have gotten an Emmy for his great job, as they say at one point in the film, Moe may have been the brains of the act BUT Curley was the heart.
The Stooges newsgroups were ablaze with postings that blasted the movie
before even seeing it.
Paul Ben-Victor did a very nice job as Moe. He was stronger in the Life sections then in the On Screen sections.
Jon Kassir was very good as Shemp.
Michael Chiklis did the best he could with the toughest job; Curly is by far the most famous and sharply defined character of the bunch. Chiklis's main failing is one he really can't help: during the "Take Off Your Hat" scene, he was attempting to look puzzled and frustrated, but his own particular eye-squint came across as angry and mean.
Evan Handler was an absolutely wonderful Larry. As written, he is the most easy-going stooge, and only slightly hen-pecked by a blonde-bombshell of a wife. (Sidenote: Larry really was the only Stooge to have a babe for a wife, on whom he allegedly cheated frequently. *Larry*?!) Handler and Annalise Phillips, who played Mabel Fine, had a wonderful, complex rapport.
And there was a nice rapport between the Stooges. The movie took the usual liberties with time and space, but for the most part it had a very good feel for the Stooges and what they went through to survive in comedy.
Two bits of major criticism:
1. Sloppy Motivation. Upon hearing of Ted Healey's death, Curly snaps, "Healy's not dead." Larry: "He's not dead?" Curly: (indicating Moe, with whom he's been having a tiff) "He's right here." Nobody, upon hearing the news that someone you knew and worked with just died violently, is going to maintain a snit (even if, according to this movie, Curly never worked with Healy, which he did in real life.)
2. Bad Routines. The movie gives the impression that the Stooges, on their own after breaking with Ted Healy, went the Martin & Lewis nightclub route, winging it with no set routine. The Stooges had a complete, set act, which was meticulously timed and rehearsed. They *had* to, or they would have killed each other.
What movie could concievable take the Stooges we know and love and bring them into the real world - this one. It's a very heart warming film into the boys we thought we knew and a fresher look at the Hollywood of their day. Paul, Evan and Michael recreate the Stooges routines perfectly and even uncannily look like them in some scenes. I think they'd be a great trio to remake the old episodes for the next century even with John Kassir popping up as Shemp!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An avid Stooges fan I have been since I was a little kid. (I'm a rarity
among Stooge lovers too. Shemp has always been my favorite) I remember
watching this movie with great anticipation.
I was highly disappointed with the historical aspects. Now, of course I know it's a movie, but there was a great deal of misinformation presented to the viewer... The first being Shemp's phobias... Everyone knows he was a phobic wreck, but Shemp was not scared of train travel. They also have him looking perfectly comfortable in a car, and this is not true. Shemp was terrified of being in a car. This coming from an accident he had as a teenager while trying to get his license. They also get his age of death wrong. He was 60 not 59. Curly is also run through the mill. They portray him as childlike. This is not true at all. He was the one who cut his hair and didn't babble like a baby at getting it cut. There are other misinformations presented, but too numerous to mention.
What was good was Paul Ben-Victor's performance as Moe, and Michael Chiklis' portrayal of Curly (no matter how screwed up the script was). Evan Handler makes a serviceable Larry, while John Kassir is a poor Shemp. Paul Ben-Victor portrays Moe, much the way Moe was in real life. A quiet homebody. Chiklis has every mannerism of Curly down pat, and truly acts the part, but the role was written poorly. There are some bright and warm moments in this, but for stooge die-hards, some of what they present is hard to swallow.
** out of ****
A fairly decent made for TV movie, which depicts the beginnings and rise
fame of The Three Stooges. The film concentrates mainly on the behind the
scene part of the Stooges lives and career. From their early days with Ted
Healy who is portrayed as a somewhat tyrannical figure. The discovery of
Larry Fine, the departure of Shemp and the addition of Moes younger
Curly to the act. Their signing with Columbia Pictures to make the now
classic shorts. The sad loss of Curly which led to the return of Shemp to
the trio. The lean years before a return to a new generation of fans. The
film covers several years and is compressed well for a two-hour movie.
It also shows that behind the zany antics the Stooges were known for it wasn't nearly all fun and games. They were entertainers who paid their dues, encountered ruthless studio bosses and even at times the general public who could confuse what they saw on the screen with reality. After seeing this made for TV picture you'll still laugh when you watch the old Columbia shorts and films the Stooges appeared in. You may however find yourself having a greater appreciation for these entertainers whose profession was comedy and took as much pride in what they did as any other professional in the world of show business.
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