The 10 best Three Stooges films


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So, by now, we’ve seen the unsettling but strangely intriguing Farrelly Brothers attempt to revive The Three Stooges as franchised characters instead of being what they’ve been all these years – three (or four… well, six, technically, but we try not to think about Joe and Curly Joe) comedians with an ingenious talent for dimwittery, tomfoolery, knucklehead slapstick and zany antics. We can argue back and forth as to whether or not this was a good idea on the Farrellys’ part, but if anything, it sparked a revival in the classic films from the original comic artists, Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Shemp Howard. Which films, you ask? Well, how’z about we take a trip down Hilarious Lane with the 10 Best Three Stooges Shorts of All Time. Sure, let’s bust out the superlatives. They made 220 of them, so it’s all opinion anyhow, see?

10. “Hoi Polloi” (1935)

The classic trope of rich people wagering over whether or not they can transform ruffians into high society dandies works well for the Stooges, who are picked up off the street while they’re shoveling rubbish. They proceed to learn next to nothing while their benefactor pulls his hair out in frustration. Their fancy coming out party involves shaving in mixed company, spring-loaded posteriors and a new slapstick trend among the highfalutin set.

9. “Grips, Grunts and Groans” (1937)

What’s not to love about mixing the Three Stooges with professional wrestling? This one takes the same schtick as their earlier film Punch Drunks (1934) – that Curly becomes a super-buttkicker under peculiar and specific circumstances – and trades pugilism for grappling. After getting big-time wrassler Bustoff too hammered to compete, they slap a fake beard on Curly to throw him in the ring, in the effort to keep themselves from getting moidelized by the ruthless gamblers betting on the match. Curly uses the term ‘duck soup’ at one point, and one has to wonder if that isn’t a reference to their contemporaries, the Marx Brothers and their 1933 film.

8. “Three Little Pigskins” (1934)

Back when pro football was in its shady infancy and amateur athletics were the way to go, crime bosses tried to set up pro games to bet on them – and when the vagabond Stooges get mistaken for star athletes by one of the goons’ gals (another one of whom is played by a blonde Lucille Ball, no less), we get a load of running around in frilly nightgowns, and then even more running around on the gridiron with absolutely no clue how the game is played. You’ll get some similar clueless shenanigans in golf with The Three Little Beers (1935).

7. “How High is Up?” (1940)

We open with the Three Stooges sleeping underneath their car, because apparently they live there. After getting washed down the street and nearly run over by a truck, they proceed to have a protracted fight with Curly’s sweater. When they go on the run from pulling shenanigans to drum up business for their mending operation, they wind up being drafted as riveters on the 97th floor of a new skyscraper. So what do they do to solve Curly’s fear of heights? Blindfold him and set him loose on the girders. Instant comic tension!

6. “Brideless Groom” (1947)

Here’s a good one with ol’ Shemp, and it finds him with a deadline to get married or else he’ll lose half a million bucks in inheritance from his old skinflint uncle. Trouble is, he ain’t got a dame to his name, save for his most annoying singing student, who’s all too happy to tie the knot. Of course, trouble arises when the news catches wind of the story, and every woman Shemp proposed to comes barging in to beat him up until he agrees to marry them – going so far as to put Shemp’s coconut in the letter press. Chaos ensues with a lot of women beating up the Stooges and Moe’s tuchus in a bear trap.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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