Whitman Times: OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will always ma

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Whitman Times: OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will always ma

PostMon Jan 04, 2010 9:25 pm

http://www.wickedlocal.com/whitman/news ... ays-matter

OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will always matter

By David Maril

Sat Jan 02, 2010, 10:16 PM EST



BROCKTON - It’s galling to some and a mystery to others as to why a new year isn’t allowed to begin without the airing of a Three Stooges marathon on television.

It was easy to rationalize “Twilight Zone” marathons as being reflective, examining our values.

But what social value is offered in Three Stooges movies? And why does the popularity of this slapstick group continue to grow?

As a tribute to the departure of 2009, Boston-area New Year’s Eve celebrants had not one, but two Three Stooges marathons to enjoy.

AMC, which finds a way to insert more commercials into its broadcasts than the old AM top-40 radio stations, offered a selection of Three Stooges classics.

Locally, TV-38, with a long history of being a flagship station for the Stooges, had its traditional marathon.

Personally, I prefer Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields because the humor is more subtle and has greater depth. However, as time marches on, my respect for the Stooges has grown. Larry, Moe, Curly and Shemp, who have been popular for more than 75 years, are more durable than Cal Ripken. They are timeless and nothing — including political correctness — can get them down.

There remain plenty of stuffed shirts who criticize this slapstick brand of humor. The Stooges are attacked for being too violent. We’ve all heard that their pie-in-the-face and frying-pan- slammed-on-the-head humor is a bad influence on children.

At one point, in the late 1970s and 1980s, it became fashionable to treat the Three Stooges as if they were trash. Publicly, some people would denounce the Stooges as lacking any redeeming qualities while laughing their heads off when they’d watch the movies in the privacy of their homes. There was a sizeable group of “closet Stooge watchers,” who would not admit they were devoted followers.

There have been behind the scenes campaigns to “purify” the airwaves and keep Stooges movies off regular TV. A few decades ago TV-38 attempted to cut back on programming time for the zany trio. But every time the Stooges were removed from the program lineup, the station’s weekly “Ask The Manager” show seemed to be barraged by viewers demanding to know when the Stooges were going to be put back on the air.

Today, the arguments against the content of their movies seem ridiculous when you look at where television has been heading. When compared to the narcissistic, shallow and senseless programming networks offer with all of the current reality show nonsense, the Stooges seem like a PBS production of “Masterpiece Theatre.”

And, with the low standards we have embraced from the Internet and video games, that old argument about the Stooges being a bad influence on children is laughable.

Still, it’s hard for some to understand the appeal of the Stooges. Sure, a large part of it is escapism from headache-inducing arguments over healthcare reform, the economy, war in the Middle East, terrorism and global warming.

But what really hits home is the way the Stooges, and many other stars of comedy, lambaste the phoniness and hypocrisy that seems to be a growing part of our corporate culture. We find the Stooges in all walks of life.

In the double-talking and pompous world of government, a large percentage of our of elected leaders behave as if they are working on a Three Stooges movie set.

It’s common when any of us deal with three people who are incompetent enough to screw up a one-car parade, we refer to them as Larry, Moe and Curly.

How many times when you hear the soundtrack from a Stooges movie with that “Three Blind Mice” music and the boys making their absurd noises will someone joke it sounds like a management meeting at the place they work?

Most importantly, the Stooges provide all of us a chance to laugh and realize we often take ourselves too seriously. And in today’s world, that’s significant and not a bad way to begin a new year.
David Maril, an Enterprise copy editor, can be reached at [email protected].
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radiotelefonia

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PostMon Jan 04, 2010 11:20 pm

The Three Stooges shorts should be in constant circulation instead than on marathons.

Then years ago, the lousy pan regional version of WB TV (which still exists) played in constant circulation the same 50 or 60 shorts... after a while, you ended hating the channel for the discourtesy of not showing the others.

The lousy pan regional version of TCM probably does the same now, but I can't verify from here.

For many years (from 1962 up to 2000, resuming later), LS85 TV Canal 13 played at noon and when they decided to lift the shorts for a while, their ratings went down.
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PostMon Jan 04, 2010 11:45 pm

The article and the posting both discuss the Stooges completely in the context of watching them on television.

I watched the Stooges at the Alex theater in Glendale, as part of yearly Stooges festival.

After watching a day of Stooges on the big screen (with a large audience), I completely changed my mind about them. One could argue that any comedy shot before, say 1965, suffers on TV, but this is especially true of the Stooges. And I find a lot of critics (and audience) are blind to this problem.

The shorts were written and blocked out for a big screen, they were shot for a big screen, they were edited for a big screen, and I would argue that anybody who really wants to understand them has to see them in that setting. There is such a severe difference between the Stooges shorts on TV and a large theater, that that trying to explain their value without discussing the issue is largely missing the point. If asked to give details, I would just give one example: the finger in the eye routine becomes stylized on a big screen--the boys look like they're doing more like a kabuki play than trying to injure each other.

Yes, I know that most of us are exposed to the Stooges by TV, but to give a comparison, we wouldn't expect a drama critic to talk about a Shakespeare play by plopping in a DVD recording of the play and watching it in his home theater system. But that's what's happening with the Stooges, and by the way a lot of other films. We should almost have two rating systems to keep this point alive: The TV rating and the big screen rating.

Has anyone else besides me seen the Stooges on the big screen, with a large audience? Any thoughts about how a different experience it was?
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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 12:10 am

I think it does help to see them on the big screen, surrounded by crowds of people laughing and chortling. I too have seen them at the Alex Theatre, and they always bring down the house. You're right, the action isn't as painful and vicious on the large screen, it has more rhythm, choreography, and style to it. They are probably a more primordial form of slapstick, and allow audiences to project their fantasies of taking out their frustrations on bosses, coworkers, family members, and rude people on cellphones.
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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 2:46 pm

Lokke Heiss wrote:The article and the posting both discuss the Stooges completely in the context of watching them on television.

I watched the Stooges at the Alex theater in Glendale, as part of yearly Stooges festival.

After watching a day of Stooges on the big screen (with a large audience), I completely changed my mind about them. One could argue that any comedy shot before, say 1965, suffers on TV, but this is especially true of the Stooges. And I find a lot of critics (and audience) are blind to this problem.

The shorts were written and blocked out for a big screen, they were shot for a big screen, they were edited for a big screen, and I would argue that anybody who really wants to understand them has to see them in that setting. There is such a severe difference between the Stooges shorts on TV and a large theater, that that trying to explain their value without discussing the issue is largely missing the point. If asked to give details, I would just give one example: the finger in the eye routine becomes stylized on a big screen--the boys look like they're doing more like a kabuki play than trying to injure each other.

Yes, I know that most of us are exposed to the Stooges by TV, but to give a comparison, we wouldn't expect a drama critic to talk about a Shakespeare play by plopping in a DVD recording of the play and watching it in his home theater system. But that's what's happening with the Stooges, and by the way a lot of other films. We should almost have two rating systems to keep this point alive: The TV rating and the big screen rating.

Has anyone else besides me seen the Stooges on the big screen, with a large audience? Any thoughts about how a different experience it was?


Holding back the urge once again to say "No Duh!", I always love it when one of our supposedly washed makes this sudden discovery about comedy film. The point is folks, ALL of these films were meant to be seen in a theater with an audience! And more importantly than being written or blocked for a big screen, these films were TIMED for a large audience. This is where gags that the tragically humorless sitting and watching this stuff by themselves in their living rooms find repetitive and pointless suddenly do what their designed to do: tickle a large group into laughing. This is why all those spaces between jokes that make A DAY AT THE RACES with the Marx Brothers seem slightly tedious when watching it alone suddenly dissapear when a crowd is watching it and the laughs cover it. The point of comedies are to make people laugh, glad it only took you Forty or so years to figure it out. Welcome finally to the club.

The Stooges were always great, are still great, and will always be great. This is why they had a forty -plus year career when they were alive, and continue on to this day, as would Laurel and Hardy if Hallmark/RHi or whomever owns them this week would get off their corporate butts and reissue the stuff to the American Public.

RICHARD M ROBERTS
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Harlett O'Dowd

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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 3:08 pm

Richard M Roberts wrote: The point is folks, ALL of these films were meant to be seen in a theater with an audience!


Yep. Of all genres, comedy needs to play in a theatre with an appreciable crowd. It's wonderful to have access to more and more golden age comedy on video, but it really does neither you nor the artist in hand any favors to see them at home, even on a 50+" HDTV.
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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 4:16 pm

I have been a Three Stooges fan since I was about 5 years old. I got a copy of the PD shorts on VHS and then started religiously waking up early enough to catch them on Tom and Jerry's Funhouse on TBS. Half the time they didnt even show a Stooges short, but when they did my day was made. That was in the late 1980s and it was really hard to find things on the Stooges in stores like books or even videos. Luckily, I had a neighbor who was an avid collector and had almost everything the Stooges had ever appeared in. If it hadnt been for him, I doubt I would have ever seen a short with Joe until I was 20. I always seem to like things when the are out of fashion. The Stooges were really the very beginning of my love of classic film. It was really a progression, from the Stooges to Laurel and Hardy, to the Marx Brothers, then to Universal Horror, and to Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd, and then to branching out into drama of both silent and pre-code era.
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radiotelefonia

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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 5:30 pm

One of my earliest memories from THE THREE STOOGES... this is from 1974, and I was three years old:

Image
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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 6:56 pm

It's particularly important to talk about audience reactions in conjunction with the Alex Theatre in Glendale, because that was one of the main preview houses in the area, and was often used by Harold Lloyd--the king of comedy previews--to judge his films based on audience reactions, and then go back to the editing room to adjust the pacing between gags accordingly.
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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 10:56 pm

Holding back the urge once again to say "No Duh!", I always love it when one of our supposedly washed makes this sudden discovery about comedy film..... The point of comedies are to make people laugh, glad it only took you Forty or so years to figure it out. Welcome finally to the club.

The Stooges were always great, are still great, and will always be great. This is why they had a forty -plus year career when they were alive, and continue on to this day, as would Laurel and Hardy if Hallmark/RHi or whomever owns them this week would get off their corporate butts and reissue the stuff to the American Public.

RICHARD M ROBERTS


Huh? Richard, are you talking about the writer of this article, or about me?
My point was that these new crop of film critics (like the writer of this article, and about every article I see about films) write about these films without making this huge point of screen vs. dvd.

Now I could argue that films made around the last twenty years or so, ARE cut for the small screen, so these critics may not see much in this difference. In fact, I could argue that a lot of the slasher action films play BETTER in the cooler medium of television--all the multiple/slash cuts are cooled off enough to play 'better' on a smaller screen. For example, the LoTR trilogy played better for me on a small screen. Or at least it was less headache producing.

But these critics and writers just don't understand, they REALLY don't understand how so much is lost by watching the older films on a monitor. So I wasn't railing against anyone on this site--we're all preaching to the choir here. In my earlier note, I was complaining about these endless reviewers and critics (and we can guess most of them are younger than 40) who are given these stack of DVDs to watch and write about...and they don't have a clue as why that's a problem. And I was at the Alex more than ten years ago, so the Three Stooges appreciation is a very old revelation for me, which I've talked about in earlier posts. As I mentioned, comedy is almost always better in a big crowd, but the Stooges were a special case because they were so maligned by critics (many of which were probably watching them on TV--it's not a new problem).

Anybody who's been reading my posting here and at alt.movies silent knows I'm been talking about the screen/TV problem for more than a decade. But some films come up that are such an outstanding example of the difference (like the Stooges shorts) that I feel the need to bring up the problem again, because outside of these small groups, no one is talking about it.

To bring up another example, vintage horror films are very much a genre that suffers greatly on the small screen. I had the good luck to see Universal's The Mummy on a big screen in LA more than ten years ago. One of the best horror films I've ever seen. I tried watching it on TV a few years later, and found it almost unwatchable. The mood, the pace, everything was destroyed on a small screen. And then I read a review on the film talking about its slow pace, etc. Doesn't take much to figure out on what media the writer saw it on. And these writers--at least a lot of them--don't realize their conclusions are often completely wrong....at least they could say: Plays better in a theater

So is that Spanish Stooge photo from Snow White and the Three Stooges? Not one of their best efforts, but the skater/princess in the film had a great name!
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PostTue Jan 05, 2010 11:51 pm

That picture was used, in 1974, to promote the Columbia shorts (even if it is for another studio film!).

Before 1962, Columbia would compile a number of their shorts into a feature length and distribute it to theaters with great success (I'm not talking about Stop! Look! and Laugh!... I'm talking about authentic compilations; Luis Di Chiara unearthed one of them, with opening titles in Spanish... then he described the first scene, since he didn't screen it, I told him which short was that one... speaking by phone!).

It is unquestionable that the Stooge films (or any other from the same period) will play better in front of a large audience than on television. I have never seen them in a theater, but I did see on TV surrounded by a lot of people. The reaction is completely different.

The same happens with the Tex Avery shorts for MGM... they have to be seen in a packed theater; on television they can be unfunny.
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PostWed Jan 06, 2010 7:54 am

colbyco82 wrote:I have been a Three Stooges fan since I was about 5 years old. I got a copy of the PD shorts on VHS and then started religiously waking up early enough to catch them on Tom and Jerry's Funhouse on TBS. Half the time they didnt even show a Stooges short, but when they did my day was made. That was in the late 1980s and it was really hard to find things on the Stooges in stores like books or even videos. Luckily, I had a neighbor who was an avid collector and had almost everything the Stooges had ever appeared in. If it hadnt been for him, I doubt I would have ever seen a short with Joe until I was 20. I always seem to like things when the are out of fashion. The Stooges were really the very beginning of my love of classic film. It was really a progression, from the Stooges to Laurel and Hardy, to the Marx Brothers, then to Universal Horror, and to Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd, and then to branching out into drama of both silent and pre-code era.


Universal Horror was a comedy genre?

Jim
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PostWed Jan 06, 2010 7:57 am

Boy, these young know-nuttin's are REALLY going to have problems watching classic films on their cellphones!

Jim
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PostWed Jan 06, 2010 8:21 am

As opposed to us old know-nuttin's.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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PostSun Oct 03, 2010 9:18 am

Not all young people are ignorant and want to watch films on cell phones.

I found hundreds reviews of Phen375 on http://skinnyexpress.com/phen375-review what do you think of it?
Last edited by DonovanArguello on Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:36 am, edited 6 times in total.
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PostMon Oct 04, 2010 5:54 pm

DonovanArguello wrote:Not all young people are ignorant and want to watch films on cell phones.


We know that, but sometimes we get discouraged and it seems that way...
Steve Haynes
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PostMon Oct 04, 2010 7:49 pm

Shaynes3 wrote:
DonovanArguello wrote:Not all young people are ignorant and want to watch films on cell phones.

We know that, but sometimes we get discouraged and it seems that way...


It's not just young people either...I know a fair number of people our age that as soon as they get a DVD, immediately rip it to a flash file and watch it on their iPod Touch, or whatever.

I'd also like to point out that not all films, not even all comedy films, get the same amount of benefit from being run on a big screen with an audience.

The Stooges, as Lokke correctly identifies, may be the most extreme example of this I have yet seen. What is extremely tedious on TV comes to life on a big screen.
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PostWed Oct 06, 2010 11:40 am

I don't know about the rest of you, but that giant photo (above) is screwing up the page formatting.
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Was wondering why this page was like that and none of the others. Thought it was my computer.
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PostWed Oct 06, 2010 2:49 pm

Lokke Heiss wrote:Has anyone else besides me seen the Stooges on the big screen, with a large audience? Any thoughts about how a different experience it was?


===========================

About twenty years ago, here in Vancouver, a theatre (now given over exclusively to porn) showed a whole evening of Three Stooges shorts in 35mm. There was a brief close-up of Curly that had an almost physical impact, like a bell being struck. There is indeed an extra dimension to films shown on large screens in high-quality prints. Wondrous and strange!
yer pal Dave
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PostWed Oct 06, 2010 9:56 pm

For years I would try to explain to my assistant (a female then in her 30s) that the Stooges needed to be seen in a theatre to be really appreciated, and explained all the things that Lokke did about timing and pacing, etc. Finally she agreed to come to one of the Alex showings. After it was over, she turned to me and said, "I totally get what you were saying about the timing and everything, and you're absolutely correct.....but I still don't think they're funny." I gave her an A for effort and let it drop, though she was always industrious enough to learn which were the best ones when theatres called to book a program without asking for any specific titles.

Mike S.
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Jim Reid

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PostWed Oct 06, 2010 10:23 pm

You didn't poke her in the eyes, did you?
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syd

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PostWed Oct 13, 2010 10:38 pm

Other movies and genres belittled
by portable entertainment:

How The West Was Won.
(As noble as the effort is to bring
it to your home, its home will always
be a theatre with a curved screen tri-pro-
jector configuration.)

Any movie shot in Cinerama or Super
Panavision 70.

2001 is successful when there are large expanses
of stars and sky to stare at to infinity.

On the small screen, without the expanse,
2001 seems glacially slow.

James Dean movies.

When I saw Rebel Without a Cause on television
James Dean's acting seemed overwrought.

On a large screen, James Dean's emoting is a
force of nature. It is understood why fifties
youth connected so well with Dean. He was their
outlet.

Every film fan should at least see one movie
on nitrate stock. Basking in its glow, you will
understand what lured people to the movies
long ago.
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Re: Whitman Times: OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will alway

PostFri Mar 09, 2018 2:47 am

Boy, these young know-nuttin's are REALLY going to have Ary News
problems watching classic films on their cellphones!
Last edited by Arynews on Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Whitman Times: OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will alway

PostFri Mar 09, 2018 10:53 am

One aspect of the Stooges that doesn't get mentioned enough is surrealism. They didn't use visual surrealism, but more like conceptual surrealism. There is a scene where Larry opens a door and looks into a hallway. Moe is crouched down next to the door out of his line of sight and pounds on his foot with a hammer. In the story, there was absolutely no reason for Moe to be there crouching down holding a hammer. The only reason he was there was because there was a foot that needed to be hit with a ball peen hammer. Larry reacts and goes back inside the room shutting the door. The story goes back to what it was doing before. You might chalk this up to just arbitrary randomness, but in the pacing of the film it works perfect and twists the audience expectation at just the right time.
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Re: Whitman Times: OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will alway

PostSun Mar 11, 2018 10:41 am

I had the good luck to watch many of the Stooges shorts on the big screen in the 1950s and 1960s in France as they were almost always the first part of the programme for any Columbia picture. All of them were featuring Shemp Howard, however, and I "discovered" Curly Joe, and Joe Besser, much later on video. I bought the entire DVD set of their Columbia shorts, fully restored, some years ago.
Being born in 1940 I saw almost all of the Universal classics, the Hammers, etc. in movie theaters, in Paris, London, and Brussels. So, when I re-watch them on BluRay or DVD, I can easily re-create my original feelings, and don't see any difference, it's always the same pleasure than before in a theater (sorry for the broken English).
Maybe it's due to the fact that most of the time I was going in theaters alone, never drinking or eating, never distracted by someone talking, calling someone on his cell, etc. as it's now too often the case. If a movie had a 83mins running time, my eyes were fixed on the screen for 83mins. And now when I watch a movie on TV, I stop any other activity, disconnect the phone, etc. so it's almost the same thing than in my youngers years. For me the only difference is the size of the screen !
Furthermore I can tell that for me at least, horror films are often much more impressive in my home, alone, than watched among an audience of morons. I still remember the day when I saw the original "Phantasm" (Don Coscarelli) in a movie theater, during its original French release, in a Latin Quarter in Paris. The audience (mostly students) was so unbearable that I was unable to appreciate the movie, and only "discovered" it years later when it became available on VHS !
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Re: Whitman Times: OPINION: Why the Three Stooges will alway

PostSun Mar 11, 2018 11:34 am

Movies like Phantasm play off the audience. They're designed to get the audience to feed back. Films like that aren't as good without a rowdy crowd. I remember I went to see The Hills Have Eyes at a dive theater in Hollywood, because it was the closest place to me that was running it. The audience was made up of all kinds of people, some of them quite drunk. There was a point in the film where the family has been lured away from the trailer, and the bald monster guy sneaks in. He spots their baby in a playpen and does a big take. Suddenly in the back of the theater, an old black guy pipes up, "SWEET JESUS! NOT THE BABY! NOT THE BABY!!!" and the audience broke up. It was one of my most treasured cinematic experiences.

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