Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Celebrity Toons: The New Three Stooges (1965)

The Three Stooges' classic shorts were in television syndication in the early 60's when the famed comedy team began making feature films. Joe DeRita became the latest, and last, Stooge to team with Moe Howard & Larry Fine in films such as "Have Rocket, Will Travel" & "The Outlaws is Coming", the latter with a pre-Batman Adam West.

It was this same configuration of Stooges that in 1965 produced a series of animated cartoons under the title, The New Three Stooges, with each cartoon sandwiched by a two-part live-action sketch. Clearly, the years were catching up to Moe & Larry, especially Moe. Depending on where you lived, the films were shown either intact, or with the live-action skit edited out for time considerations. As you'll see, Moe subtly breaks the fourth wall to segue into the cartoon.

I've also discovered that the cartoons may have been meant to be part of a bigger Stooges TV project, which didn't get past the pilot stage. DeRita didn't have the charisma of either Curly or Shemp, but in this writer's opinion, he was an improvement over Joe Besser, who'd moved on to work with Abbott & Costello on their sitcom, among other projects.

Here's a sample of the animated Stooges, "The Noisy Silent Movie":

Cambria Studios was the same one that gave us the infamous Synchro-Vox method used on Clutch Cargo & Space Angel, but opted against it for the Stooges, which was the wisest move.

As we've previously discussed, the Stooges would later return, with Hanna-Barbera acquiring a license to use the likenesses of Moe, Larry, & Curly, first in a pair of episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and later as bionic comedy superheroes on The Skatebirds. The Robonic Stooges would be the last television incarnation of the fabled team, with Paul Winchell & Frank Welker voicing Moe & Curly, respectively. Clearly, animation weakened the Stooges' charm, instead of strengthening it.

Rating: B-.


R.A.M.'67 said...

Compared to the H-B Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello cartoons, the New Three Stooges ones don't feel quite as "morbid" because Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe were still alive (at the time) when they were produced. I like their cartoons a bit more, but the live-action skits are mild because the days of slapstick violence were (justifiably) over dues to the ages of Moe and Larry.

The Voice of Larry on The Robonic Stooges was chubby British comedian Joe Baker, who previously had worked on Rich Little's short-lived NBC variety program (1976). Notably, there were a couple of Three Stooges sketches on the show, with Rich as Moe and Joe as Curly!

hobbyfan said...

I remember Baker being on the Rich Little Show, and seeing at least one of those Stooges skits. That's why I thought, when the Robonic Stooges aired, that Baker was hired to play Curly, but wasn't. Welker used his Jabberjaw voice for Curly, instead.

When the skits were made, Moe was nearly 70, and Larry's motor skills were already on the downturn at 63. That explains the reduced slapstick.