The two reeler which was one of the great lost forms of cinematic art, was never more popular than with this trio of
comics! But it wasnt always that way. In the early 30's many stage and vaudeville actors wanted to make ot in pictures, and talking became important since sound really changed the way movies were made, and this trio like many hopefuls went knocking on doors. These jewish brothers I believe, horwitz was that their name?, actually managed to sign a contract. Then they were called into Columbia, a small fledgling studio trying to stay above water with the one and only Harry Cohn. He was an original, and he had an interest in literary forms and screenwriting, was a consummate artist in many ways, but few, especially the up and coming and well known stars and directors liked him..but during his tenure at columbia some very good movies were made and he had talent in putting together movies, and getting them marketed(which wasnt easy since he had a small studio..and unlike the other studios owned no movie houses so he had to use his ingenuity to get his films viewed across america). His films gained an international reputation and he added his own personal stamp on hollywood. He wanted to start up a two reeler movie business, which were short films but he needed a popular act as a draw. The stooges were already signed elsewhere but were called to see him, known colorfully as boss. After talking to him, and he was usually short and to the point, he said though your signed elsewhere you were for me, Ill get you out of your other contract..and the very popular two reeler business began at columbia. Many of the other productions were not as popular, and his rule was to take the popular Stooges reels you had to take the less popular as well, making the studio some money, and boosting production which was good news for actors, although besides this act I dont know how many are really viewed these days. The Little Rascals elsewhere was another popular show.
I recall in youth these films were viewed as low brow, not much there. But here in this first volume, 1934-36 thaT'S NOT THE CASe. Phil donahue said on his show years ago the hitting and slapping, people would imitate the violence, copy cats, but I dont see the point. Its comedy and it has a chaplinesque comedy like the Little Rascals, Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello which do not see the light today. We need to look at the past to see these comedic gems. We have the two straight men moe and larry, and moe's actual brother curly. One of the great movie comics unrivalled in physical hijinks,movements, sounds and utterings, and his romantic scenes are a roar. A much imitated comdeian..abbot and costello try to copy him, never truely succeeding. These shows are really built around him, and he's especially funny in romantic scenes. These were the first shorts produced, and columbia has remastered the film and its excellent quality. The comedy in these shorts besides the comedy, was the depression years of the 1930's very hard times, and like most good comedy, they find comedy in human situations and nothing is resolved nor are there any messages of any kind. They just try to make it through the day..dont want to rise..no ambition..and the great feel of these films is you dont have a long history or future,,but a brief moments of activity and the story line is concentrated so it seems longer temporally than what you actually see on film, in the brief 18 minutes, and its fast moving and the action is brisk. Columbia received the services of Del Lord a great comedic director, in these shorts the ones he directs, watch for his name, the structure and layout is great, and the slapstick sequences almost perfect, so will see as the volumes continue the different directors, and at this stage they are trying to give the act good production support. The writing..you get the effect in their language of their origins...as a contrast to the others...but they are humane/comedic and you gain their sympathy more than anyone..even in their 1930's dialect when talkin gto the women or anyone, the language is insulting, but true to the time giving it a reality. Were the ladies here ever more lovelier in scenes and given such matching dialogue. They are wonderfully photographed pretty and allureing as a contrast to the plight of the three..also the women are shown from their standpoint their wants and needs and especially a scene with a fat women..wanting a date..in their individuality they come alive if only modern screenwriters can make ladies like souls in these tales..Harry spent much money getting good writers and forced them to spend the day at the studio...it was a different atmosphere in old hollywood..but good production values at this stage shows throughout...and these different aspects is what glues us in to the gritty reality of the 1930's ..there's not really an act like this,,Red skeleton on TV years later had this physical comedy..I'd like to take alook at those films also..here i'm watching from the retrospective The Ultimate Colection 1934-58.