After their classic Columbia short subjects (1934-1958) were sold to television in the late 50s, The Three Stooges gained newfound popularity to a new generation of fans. Shortly after, Columbia brought the boys back (with "Curly" Joe DeRita as the new third Stooge) for a series of feature films. All of them dealt with fantasy or a larger than life genre (i.e. westerns, sword & sandal), and THE THREE STOOGES GO AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE (their second-to-last starring feature) is no exception.
A comedic take on Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, the film has The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe DeRita) in England as the servants of Phileas Fogg's great-grandson, Phileas Fogg III (Jay Sheffield). Fogg III makes a wager that he can duplicate his granddad's historic cashless journey around the globe, in response to a dare made by Randolph Stuart III (Peter Forster). Stuart is actually con man Vicker Cavendish who tries to frame Fogg for robbing a bank, making he and his Stooges wanted by the law during their journey. Along the trip, a love interest (Joan Freeman) is introduced for Fogg and typically madcap situations are encountered in various parts of the world.
THE THREES STOOGES GO AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE is one of their most enjoyable features, though some Stooge fans will disagree since anything "Curly" Joe is usually ranked inferior by them. Actually, DeRita contributes a lot here with physical comedy, reprising the fight sequence of "Punch Drunks" (originally done with Curly Howard in 1934). Here, he goes berserk when he hears the sounds of "Pop Goes the Weasel" played by Larry with a flute, and battles an enormous Sumo wrestler in the ring. Another familiar Stooge routine carried over from the Curly era (in this case, 1946's "Three Little Pirates") has the nearly-blind Maharajah (DeRita) coaxed into a dangerous round of knife-throwing. Moe liked this dialogue-driven bit so much that he was still milking it much later on "The Mike Douglas Show" shortly before he died.
Although the two original members were well into their 60s by this time, there's still no shortage of slapstick as the baggy-eyed Moe slaps and bonks whenever the opportunity arises. Their antics are supported by a wonderful supporting cast of character actors, including Richard Deavon (from many Roger Corman films) and a very young Pat Cooper of Catskills stand-up fame. Stooge regular Emil Sitka has a cameo as a butler who gets cake in his face.
The film is presented on DVD in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and has been Anamorphically enhanced. The black and white source material is in very good shape, with deep blacks and fine contrast. There's evidence of film dirt and grain, but the image is satisfying overall and this title has never looked better. The audio track is crisp with little noticeable background hiss. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are provided.
There are no bonus materials here,
except for trailers for unrelated Columbia DVD titles. The company's previous
DVDs of Stooge features (THE OUTLAWS IS COMING and STOP!, LOOK! AND LAUGH!)
both contained a bonus short, so it's disappointing that one hasn't been included
here. Columbia has put a nice dent in releasing their Three Stooges catalog
to DVD, but with so many more titles to go, let's hope they keep them coming
in quick succession! (George R. Reis)
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