Some names that meant much fifty years ago could
not be more forgotten now: Paul Winchell, Officer Joe Bolton, The Marquis
Chimps, but not, of course, The Three Stooges, who remain, whatever the
argument over merit, a best known comic team of all. Moe, Larry, and Joe De
Rita sought a restraining order to block Columbia
release of Stop! Look!,and Laugh! on basis it would queer their planned
feature for 20th Fox, Snow White and The Three Stooges. The order was granted
in July, 1960, then dissolved weeks later after further hearing, issue largely
moot as Stop! Look!, and Laugh! opened on twenty Los Angeles screens during the interim.
Variety referred to the team's "lolli-popularity" among tricycle trade
and "thriftily spliced together ... old shorts," none of this a knock
on Columbia, as trades encouraged family fare to take onus off adult-theme The
Apartment, Elmer Gantry and such that made parents wonder if theatres were
still safe haven for youngsters.
The "Original" Stooges are touted
large, kids aware from TV views that Curly-featured shorts were funniest of the
lot. Nice to see Charley Chase and other past vets receive fresh onscreen
credit, Chase having directed several of the old excerpts. Someone clearly took
care to minimize eye-pokes and slapping among the boys, rougher stuff left off
as it had been in a fresh feature, Have Rocket --- Will Travel, with latter-day
Stooges. Music is added to the truncated oldies, a distractionnot welcome.
Winchell and the TV gang were to some extent regional lures, a cameo from
"Officer Joe Bolton" meaningless outside New York markets where he hosted WPIX Stooge
runs (unless Joe was syndicated and I missed him). Winchell had at least some network exposure here/there, so his tiltings
with Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, even if filched off Edgar Bergen's
act, came welcome to moppetry in attendance. Winchell assumes parental role vis
a vis the dummies; he even burps Jerry at one point. The Marquis Chimps have
one skit, a too long one based on Cinderella. Their act was strictly a snooze,
but one of them merits Stop, Look's fade by taking a pie in the face. Would the
ASPCA sit still for that today?