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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem

MOVIE REVIEWS

STOOGES: THE MEN BEHIND THE MAYHEM  (1994)

Starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser, Edward Bernds, Lyla Budnick, Joe DeRita, Paul "Mousie" Garner, Ted Healy, Emil Sitka, Adam West and Billy West.

Written by Paul E. Gierucki.

Directed by Paul E. Gierucki.

Distributed by Mackinac Media.  64 minutes.  Not Rated.

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Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem

All of today's cavalcade of comedians, from Jim Carrey to Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy to the late John Candy owe a huge debt of gratitude to those comedic pioneers, The Three Stooges.
 
Stooges: The Men Behind The Mayhem (which was originally made for A&E's Biography series) provides a winning look at the rise and fall of these comedic giants. Produced and written by Paul E. Gierucki, the program, winner of the Best Documentary International Telly Award, illustrates the saga of how a bunch of East Coast based vaudeville misfits, the Howards, Moe, Curly and Shemp and partner-in-crime, Larry Fine, redefined the parameters of slapstick. The show utilizes rare photographs, vintage newsreels, an archival audio interview with Moe Howard and contemporary interviews with family members -- Larry's sister, Lyla Budnick and Curly's daughter.  Also on hand are Batman actor Adam West, and voiceover artist Billy West (who impersonated Larry's voice  to great effect in the popular Nineties cartoon series, The Ren & Stimpy Show).
 
The special covers all the bases --from their early work with comedy visionary Ted Healy to the trio's emergence in the Thirties as stars in their own Columbia Pictures shorts.  From the tragic deaths of Curly and Shemp to the unfortunate later addition of lesser talented Stooge add-ons, Joe Besser and Curley Joe De Rita. Long forgotten by the public at large, by the end of the Fifties, the kooky antics of Moe, Larry and Curly were passť. Yet, as the special explains in detail, thanks to the rise of television, the Three Stooges were rescued from has-been land and transformed into slapstick superstars, resurrected by perpetual re-runs on the boob tube.
 
One intriguing piece of trivia revealed in the show: early in his life, native Philadelphian Larry Fine had an accident that damaged his left hand. To strengthen it and regain use in his hand, he took up violin, and became quite a talented player in the process. Larry was often featured playing the instrument in Stooge shorts.
 
Taking down the documentary a few notches is the lack in variety of interview subjects queried, only four or five people are featured (including bit player, comedian Mousie Garner). Another weakness of this documentary is its failure to secure existing contemporary interview footage of the Three Stooges, which would allow the comedy trio to posthumously exert more of a role in the show. Moe Howard, for example, appeared several times on the popular TV talk program, The Mike Douglas Show. Including excerpts of Howard's interview and ensuing pie fight with Soupy Sales would have strengthened the story.
 
Having said that, the second disc is packed with a generous array of bonus features including four digitally remastered Stooges shorts, rare trailers, TV appearances and unedited interview footage from the special, all helping to make Stooges: The Men Behind The Mayhem a must see for those with an affinity for "the Curly Shuffle" and a good poke in the eyes.  (4/05)

Ken Sharp

Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.comAll rights reserved. Posted: April 25, 2005.

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Copyright ©2005   PopEntertainment.comAll rights reserved.
Posted: April 25, 2005.

 

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