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Goofs on the Loose [DVD collection]

Editorial review of The Three Stooges – Goofs on the Loose, courtesy of Amazon.com

Columbia Pictures presents The Three Stooges - Goofs on the Loose - Men in Black - The Sitter Downers - Punch Drunks - Playing the Ponies - starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard

Goofs on the Loose is a four-pack of mid-’30s Three Stooges shorts, with enough concentrated nyuk-nyuks to satisfy fans. Two of the shorts are from their first year with Columbia, 1934. ”Men in Black” has the boys as residents in a very unlucky hospital. It’s nonstop mayhem, featuring an unorthodox approach to healing (the words “Give ‘em the anesthetic” usually means a mallet will be applied to skull) and a good running gag about an ill-advised glass door. This one was nominated for the best short subject Oscar. ”Punch Drunks” is an all-time Stooges gem, with Curly as Moe‘s new boxing discovery–but he can only achieve his fighting fury when Larry plays “Pop Goes the Weasel” on the violin.

From 1937, ”The Sitter Downers” has three brides for three stooges, but their honeymoon is delayed by the building of a house, in typical Stooges style. Curly is wound up especially tight in this one, and it has some primo sight gags about home construction. ”Playing the Ponies” navigates a zig-zag Stooges storyline, taking them from restaurant (Curly fixes an appetizing filet of sole) to horse track. It has a classic Stooges hand jive, although it shows how slapdash their shtick could get.

The DVD has Columbia’s “ChromaChoice” colorized gimmick, which simply means easy toggling between the original (well preserved) black-and-white shorts and the colorized versions. The colorized images are sensibly rendered, but they still have that washed-out paleness they’ve always had–eggshell greens and light browns abound. So real Stooges fans can ignore the color, and ponder the eternal questions: Why was Moe so angry? Why is a bald man named Curly? What was the deal on Larry? And “Why don’t catfish have kittens?” —Robert Horton

Men in Black

The stooges are three doctors who graduated medical school by being in it for too many years. They come across such problems as an overly chirpy nurse, a mental patient, and a combination to a safe swallowed by the hospital superintendent in the course of their attempt to get through the day.

Punch Drunks

Moe discovers Curly’s unknown boxing talent when he knocks out the Champ at a restaurant when Larry plays “Pop Goes the Weasal” on the violin. Moe becomes Curly’s manager, and they win every fight, with the help of Larry. At the championship game, though, Larry’s violin breaks. Curly is getting beat down bad when Larry makes his unexpected entrance and helps Curly prevail.

Playing the Ponies

The stooges are gypped into trading their restaurant for “Thunderbolt”, a washed up race horse. When Curly feeds Thunderbolt some chili pepperinos, he runs like crazy towards the nearest water. The boys enter Thunderbolt in a big race. With jockey Larry feeding Thunderbolt the pepperinos, and Moe and Curly on a motorcycle leading him with a bucket of water, they win the race.

The Sitter-Downers

The stooges are suitors who go on a sit down strike when their prospective father-in-law refuses to consent the marriages. The strike wins them fame and they receive numerous gifts including a lot and a prefabricated house. They win the strike and get married, but the wives decree no honeymoon until the house is built. The boys have some problems with the construction, especially since Curly burned up the plans. The eventually finish the house, a monstrosity that collapses when one post is accidentally moved.

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