I became a Stooge fan back in the 1970s when I would watch the Stooges (and sometimes Laurel and Hardy) on the big screen at Straw Hat Pizza in Wichita with my parents whenever we would go the “big city”. They had a Technicolor movie projector that used a Magi-Cartridge. They would snap the cartridge in and the Stooges would magically appear on the big screen. Imagine, eating pizza and watching the Stooges in a public restaurant! Today, every restaurant seems to have sports playing on flat screen TVs but in the 70s, this was a novelty. It hooked me for life. When we got cable TV in 1978, we received channel 17 WTCG out of Atlanta (eventually SuperStation WTBS) and channel 41 KBMA out of Kansas City. Both stations played The Three Stooges daily. Flash forward to August 2012. After collecting all eight volumes of the short subjects on DVD, in addition to the movies, cartoons and various other shorts, I started on a journey and began watching the Stooges every day over lunch or right after work. I had already watched the first couple years of Curly, so I started with 1936 and I’ve been viewing them in chronological order. As of Nov. 5, I’m up to 1955 and watching the last two years of Shemp.
Along the way, I’ve made several observations. First, there were a few shorts with Curly I don’t think I’d ever seen, most of which were wartime and politically incorrect. I’ve also watched (and struggled my way through) all of the early Ted Healy shorts. It was sad to see the degeneration of Curly’s health in 1945 and 1946 develop over the course of a week. With Shemp, I’m watching these later shorts in widescreen for the first time and the picture looks amazing. I remember most of these but did enjoy 1951s Gold Raiders for the first time. Unfortunately, the now painfully obvious stock footage reuse in the later Shemp shorts becomes sadder with each day. Next, I’ll embark on the final years with Joe, which I haven’t seen in some 25 years. Yes, dark days ahead as I was never a Joe fan (is anybody?). I also look forward to the solo shorts with Shemp, Joe Besser and Joe DeRita that came with the bonus disc (which I had to purchase separately, thank you Amazon). The slapstick humor is not for everyone but I love it. It takes me back to those days of my youth. Sadly, Straw Hat is long gone. The building still stands but is now a Chinese restaurant. Wouldn’t it be cool if someone came up with the concept today and a new generation of Stooge fans was born? Both of my kids watched the Stooges for a while, so they know their nyuk nyuks. With a metal movie poster for Goofs and Saddles in my home theatre, a wooden “Do Not Disturb” sign on my home office doorknob (a Christmas gift) and my copy of Moe Howard and the Stooges by Moe Howard on my bookshelf for more than 30 years now, I’m a Stooge fan for life.