The Three Stooges

The Three Stooges are a virtually immortal film comedy team. Their humorous antics can be called "childlike" on account of they injure one another repeatedly, and lack the simplest thinking skills. Coming Soon: A Major Motion Picture Homage!

Moe, Curly and Larry pose with potential stars of the 21st Century 3 Stooges reboot (except these child actors would be about 80 now, if not dead of drug overdoses in the early 1960s).

Just The Facts

  1. During their lengthy film careers, constant Stooges Moe and Larry worked with only four different official Third Stooges. Six different actors have portrayed 007 in the James Bond films.
  2. In 23 years under contract with Columbia Pictures, the various configurations of the Three Stooges made 190 timeless short comedy films. One of the earliest, 1934's "Men In Black" was nominated for an Academy Award.
  3. Scheduled for release April 2012, the long-anticipated Farrelly Brothers' "The Three Stooges" movie stands a good chance of being a mammoth letdown.

Stooges Unsaddled

In 1934, the quintessential Three Stooges lineup Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard broke ties with their MC taskmaster (and, at that point, an alcoholic miserable prick) Ted Healy, and signed a contract with a different miserable prick, Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures.

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Moe and Larry had worked vaudeville (ask a great-grandparent) in Healy's revues since the early 1920s along with Moe's older brother Shemp Howard. When he'd had too much of the boss' swellheadedness and money-grabbing, Shemp told Healy to go poke himself and dropped out into a solo career. In short order, the vacant spot was filled by the Howards' baby brother Curly, who ripened into The Most Beloved Stooge of All Time.

swellheadedness,W W

In the Old Daze

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Going to the movies was a much different experience in the 1930s & 40s (being warned to "turn off your f*cking phone, asshole" might not have been relevant back then). For under fifty cents, you got two movies, a newsreel, a least one cartoon, and a two reel comedy short subject.

In a time when there were no known Kardashians, no gluten-free foods or autoerotic asphyxiations, the Three Stooges shorts were an instant no-shit hit. These were fun for whole families delighted to be out of their houses in bad neighboorhoods and watching somebody else get slapped around for a change.

Big jesus

Unlike the Beatles, The Three Stooges never claimed to be "Bigger Than Jesus"

The Order of Stooge Succession

curly

As a result of an offscreen life that regularly included at least a half dozen of the Seven Deadly Sins, Curly Howard (The Most Beloved Stooge In The Observable Universe) suffered an unhumorous stroke in 1947 and died, not in a funny way, in 1952 . Curly starred in 97 Columbia shorts.

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  • shempShemp Howard was a legitimate replacement for Curly, being Curly's brother (except that's a brother swap even less satisfying than Jim for John Belushi). The studio intially expressed worries that Shemp looked like Moe, which had to be considered a vicious insult to Moe. Budget cuts meant escalating use of recycled bits and pieces in the 77 Columbia shorts featuring Shemp. A few of those episodes required Fake Shemp embedding.

  • Joe BJoe Besser is nobody's favorite Stooge. It's not his fault. Joe entered into Stoogedom carrying an already established persona: a whining, ignorant bratty character he'd developed over years in show business. He'd had good-paying work in radio and movies, and in his own pre-Stooges solo comedy shorts. Partly because he never seemed a good fit in the Stooge milieu, but probably mostly because Columbia's short subject division was on its last legs, the scripts were shoddy and the sets unconvincing, the 16 films with Joe Besser are an embarassment to even the diehard Stooges completeists.

  • Curly Joe DeRita CUJOwas recruited during the Renaissance of Stooge Popularity, after the studio had shut down the shorts shop and started marketing the episodes for children's TV. His major qualifications were being a short person who, if he shaved his head, could be made to vaguely resemble the irreplaceable Curly Howard. With Moe and Larry, he appeared in several full-length (and, therefore, overly long) movies. The heretical DeRita is quoted as believing the Stooges were "not funny".

Stooge Worship

Stars

The Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) Brothers' The Three Stooges movie has been in development since 1996. Perhaps they found it difficult to wrap other heads around the concept.

This brand new folly should not be confused with the made-for-TV biopic/melodrama (2000) produced by self-exposed Stooge fanboy Mel Gibson. Gibson's fascination with Howard, Fine & Howard is evident in the Stooges-inspired sequences in his films Lethal Weapon and The Passion of the Christ.

The cast of stars originally touted for the Farrelly's film seems like it would have put the budget into the stratosphere: Benicio del Toro as Moe, Sean Penn as Larry, and Jim "Ha Ha" Carrey as Curly. In our important opinion, Penn and del Toro would have made for a gravitas overload, whereas a fatted-up Carrey could only humiliate himself along with the project. In any case, they all eventually bailed, citing good judgment, and were replaced with actors you're less likely to know unless you're related to them:

Chris Diamantopoulos is Moe. He's played Robin Williams and Frank Sinatra in TV movies, so rates props for versatility at least.

Sean Hayes is Larry. If we ever watched Will And Grace, we might know if this guy deserves the awards he's accumulated out of that.

Will Sasso is Curly. We have caught his badass Steven Seagal schtick on MAD TV, but can he be awesome enough to channel America's Sweetheart Stooge?