From the VHS Vault: The Three Stooges in HAVE ROCKET, WILL TRAVEL (Columbia 1959)

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My DirecTV receiver decided to fry itself the other day. A new one won’t be shipped for another five days – no TCM, no DVR’d movies, no Red Sox, no nothin’! What’s a film blogger to do? Since my DVD player isn’t working either, I thought I’d reach into my collection of VHS tapes and see what I could come up with for viewing. Hmm, let’s see… wait a sec, what’s this? An unopened copy of HAVE ROCKET, WILL TRAVEL, the Three Stooges  comeback starring feature! Good Lord, I haven’t seen this movie in years! The Stooges it is!

A little background first: after making shorts for Columbia since 1934, the studio dumped the trio when their contract ended in 1957. Television had killed the short subject market, and the boys were thrown out on their collective keisters. Ironically, it was television that revived their career when the Stooges shorts were released to…

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That’s Entertainment!: TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM (Columbia 1941)

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Most of you “Cracked Rear Viewers” know I run an occasional series titled ‘Cleaning Out the DVR’, where I do capsule reviews of five or six different films. TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM was going to be included in my next ‘DVR’ entry, but after watching it, I’ve decided to give it the full treatment. This has happened only once before (see PENELOPE). It’s a 40’s B-movie lovers dream, a second-tier all-star musical comedy, and it gives The Three Stooges probably their best feature showcase of the 40’s. Plus the tap-dancing wonders of lovely, leggy Texan Ann Miller. Now how can you beat that!


The plot’s as old as film musicals themselves: theatrical agents Rudy Vallee and Richard Lane become successful, and develop a hit show. Lane’s former flame (Rosemary Lane, no relation) comes between them, and the partners break up. Vallee and sidekick Offbeat (comic Allen Jenkins) discover Rosemary’s maid (our girl Ann)…

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Pre Code Confidential #5: HOLLYWOOD PARTY (MGM 1934)

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One of the most bizarre films of the Pre-Code (or any) era is HOLLYWOOD PARTY. This practically plotless hodgepodge stars Jimmy Durante as jungle movie hero Schnarzan, whose films are tanking at the box office. The public has grown tired of his battles with “moth-eaten, toothless lions”, so his producer decides to buy new ones from the adventurer Baron Munchausen (radio star Jack Pearl doing his schtick). Schnarzan throws a big Hollywood party for the Baron, hoping to win his favor, but screen rival Liondola (dialect comic Georges Givot), disguising himself as the Grand Royal Duke of Peloponnesia, crashes the bash and tries to buy the lions for himself with the help of Oklahoma oil baron Harvey Crump (the perpetually perplexed  Charles Butterworth).


All this is just an excuse for a series of unrelated comic bits featuring some of the era’s top funnymen. Durante, as the nominal star, gets the bulk of the material…

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Happy Birthday Shemp Howard: BRIDELESS GROOM (Columbia short 1947)

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The very funny Shemp Howard was born Samuel Horwitz on March 11, 1895. He got the moniker Shemp because his immigrant mother had trouble pronouncing his first name. Shemp and his younger brother Moe formed a vaudeville act and toured the circuit, until being discovered by Ted Healy. Healy incorporated the two into his act and, together with Larry Fine, made them his “stooges”. They worked together until Shemp left Healy in 1932, replaced by his youngest brother Curly. Eventually Moe, Larry, and Curly struck out on their own, and became The Three Stooges.


Meanwhile, Shemp began appearing in Vitaphone short subjects. He was given the role of Knobby Walsh in the “Joe Palooka” series, and his comic improvising soon became the focal point of the shorts. Shemp graduated to comic relief in mainstream films, and comedy stars like W.C. Fields ( THE BANK DICK ) and Abbott & Costello ( BUCK PRIVATES

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One Toke Over the Line: REEFER MADNESS (G & H Productions 1936)

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I’m writing this post while battling a nasty case of the flu, so it’s probably going to be a short one. That’s okay though, because really, what can I say about REEFER MADNESS? It’s terrible filmmaking, and dull as dishwater. There are plot holes so wide you could drive a semi through them. This little exploitation number would’ve been long forgotten after making the rounds on the grindhouse and roadshow circuits, until it was rediscovered by the stoner crowd in the 70’s and turned into an ironic midnight cult movie.


The movie itself finds stodgy Dr. Carroll lecturing the local School-Parent Group to help “stamp out this frightful assassin of youth” marijuana. He recounts what happened when some kids got hooked on the stuff. Seems this gang of drug pushers were out to corrupt American youth by turning them on at an apartment run by no-goods Mae and Jack. Sweet Mary’s brother…

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CLEANING OUT THE DVR Pt1: Five Films from Five Decades

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I record a LOT of movies. Probably around ten per week, more or less. And since I also have to do little things like work, exercise, cook, clean, breathe,  etc etc, I don’t always have time to watch  them all (never mind write full reviews), so I’ve decided to begin a series of short, capsule reviews for the decades covered here at Cracked Rear Viewer. This will be whenever I find my DVR getting cluttered, which is frequent! I’ll try to make CLEANING OUT THE DVR a bi-weekly series, but there are no guarantees. Monthly is more realistic. Anyway, here are five films from the 1930s to the 1970s for your reading pleasure.

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Woo Woo Woo! Soitenly

As a child of the 80’s I grew up watching reruns of the 3 Stooges (among other classes like The Little Rascals, Laurel & Hardy, etc). My love for this show, along with Alyssa Milano, Bruce Lee films, and Blade Runner are the only things that survived my transition from wee lad to loner teen, from loner teen to awkward adult.

I was a tad apprehensive when I learned about the film, since very few movie revivals of television series did the source material any justice. The Farrelly Brothers did something special, they introduced the Stooges to the wee ones of this generation and entertained the old fans (like myself and my Stoogephile buddy). Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso truly honored the characters made famous Moses Horwitz, Louis Feinberg, and Jerome Horwitz. They successfully captured the innate innocence and mischieous of these loveable trouble makers.

The Three Stooges Trailer