There was a time when the Three Stooges could be seen on a daily basis in practically every TV market in the country.
But for whatever reason (political correctness, maybe?), it's difficult to find a channel airing the Stooges these days. Stooges-starved fans will be happy to know that the boys are still performing their antics in a nifty set of DVDs from Sony.
The latest entry, "The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Three 1940-42" ($24.96), contains 23 of their films on two DVDs. It's part of an ambitious project that will see all 190 of the Stooges' short subjects produced by Columbia Pictures from 1934 to 1959 released on DVD in chronological order.
Thus far, the collection has covered the films starring the original trio of Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard. Sony has done a fine job on the films. The re-mastered prints are first-rate and the sound is practically flawless.
Those who think the Stooges were only about pokes in the eye and slaps on the cheek miss the fact that many of their films were wonderful satires.
There are no better examples of that than "You Nazty Spy!" and "I'll Never Heil Again," both featured in Volume Three. Charlie Chaplin's shot at Hitler and his Nazis in "The Great Dictator" might be more famous, but the Stooges' stellar efforts in these two shorts were just as funny and biting.
"A Plumbing We Will Go," another in the collection, shows the boys at their wacky best. Here they pose as plumbers and are hired to fix some leaks at a ritzy mansion. Knowing absolutely nothing about what they are doing, wonderful chaos ensues. This one features the famous scene in which Curly imprisons himself in cage of pipes.
Another famous short is "In the Sweet Pie and Pie," which includes the Stooges escaping execution and climaxes with a memorable pie fight at a big party.
Other shorts included in volume three are: "Rockin' in the Rockies," "Nutty But Nice," " How High is Up?," "From Nurse to Worse," "No Census, No Feeling" and "Boobs in Arms"
Still available is "Volume One: 1934-36" which includes the boys' first 18 shorts for Columbia. Among them are the Oscar-nominated "Men in Black," with the Stooges running amok in a hospital ("Calling Dr. Howard, Dr, Fine, Dr, Howard"); "Hoi Polloi," in which they make fun of one of their favorite targets, high society; and "Ants in the Pantry," with them playing pest exterminators who drum up business by planting hundreds of ants in a mansion.
Also available is "Volume Two: 1937-39" with 23 shorts. Among these are "Dizzy Doctors," with the Stooges trying to sell the alleged miracle cleaner Bright-O. In "Violent is the Word for Curly," the boys are mistaken for college professors and lead the students in the tune "Swinging the Alphabet." And the Stooges prove they have a heart in "Oily to Bed and Oily to Rise," with Moe, Larry and Curly helping a widow who has been swindled out of her land.
Throughout the three volumes, it's difficult to find a real dud. They're for anyone who is a Three Stooges fan or simply enjoys hearty laughs.