Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Weirdest DVD Purchase Ever – or “Citizen Stooge”.

There are certain professions that allow windows into men’s souls.

Psychologist, clergyman, and… would you believe Checkout Clerk at Best Buy?

Think about it for a moment. Best Buy does not deal in essentials for living, like food and clothing. Its stock in trade is entertainment, and the choices we make in that area – choices that can be observed at checkout – are an indicator of the personality of the consumer dutifully submitting his or her Reward Zone Card for electronic scanning.

Your taste in electronics, music, movie and television DVDs, and the like all say something about you. That’s why can program suggestions specifically for you, based on your past selections and browsings, with a fairly high degree of accuracy.

One can’t help but wonder – if one has considerable time to waste, or has a Blog that constantly craves new material – what the checkout person might think of our purchases.

Pairing a STAR TREK movie with a season box set of LOST (as I have done) likely merits neither an eye-bat nor a raised brow. Such products simply “go-together”.

But, imagine the unspoken clerkly thoughts my DVD purchase of yesterday might have inspired.

Oh, I’ll just can the pretentious trappings of literacy and cut to the chase…

Yesterday, in the same purchase, I bought… “Citizen Kane: Two-Disc Special Edition” and “The Three Stooges Collection Volume 8 (1955-1959)” featuring Shemp and Joe Besser!


In cinematic terms there could not be greater polar opposites than the lofty “Citizen Kane” and the lowly “Three Stooges”… and, as if that wasn’t enough, this was the VERY END of “The Three Stooges” – a far cry (or eye-poke) from their glory days.

Indeed, there are probably some Hollywood purists that would OUTLAW such a tandem purchase! But, whatever the thoughts of said purists, and the anonymous Best Buy checkout clerk, there was a reason for combining such disparate elements into a single purchase. Yep, it’s that “Window into my soul” part you’ve all been dreading!

I’ve somehow reached this stage of life without ever seeing “Citizen Kane”. I’ve always heard it spoken of as “The Greatest Movie Ever Made”, and now I intend to find out for myself. The road to satisfying this life-long curiosity was hastened by “Citizen Kane” being packaged as a Warner Bros. “Two-Disc Special Edition”.

Previous such packagings for “Casablanca”, “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (one of which will be reviewed in this Blog soon) were done SO WELL that this package became nearly irresistible. I look forward to immersing myself in this cinematic classic.

As for “The Three Stooges”, they’ve been a part of my life (and Esther’s I was happy to learn) since the days of “Officer Joe Bolton” on New York’s WPIX Channel 11. I own the previous seven volumes, and I was certainly not about to stop now.

Besides, I love Joe Besser! I loved Joe Besser on THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW. I loved him as the “Third Stooge” (though, objectively, he clearly failed to live up to both Curly and Shemp). And I even loved “Scat Scout Scat”, a 1959 Quick Draw McGraw cartoon where hostile Indian “Big Chief Little Runt” was created as a Joe Besser parody character. To see it CLICK HERE!

No version of “The Three Stooges” gets as bad a rap as the final 16 installments featuring Joe Besser. But now I could have them for my very own.

My interest, however, is far from limited to Joe Besser. This set covers the period leading up to – and the sad occurrence of – Shemp Howard’s death. And, in a startling fact I never knew, there were FOUR Stooge shorts made AFTER SHEMP’S DEATH (…not just ONE, but FOUR), using previously existing footage of Shemp and the use of a (sometimes awkwardly utilized) double in new footage! One, maybe, is acceptable… but FOUR additional shorts after the man’s death is downright ghoulish! What say you all?

You can read all about it in THIS EXCELLENT REVIEW FROM DVD TALK!

“Citizen Kane meets The Three Stooges”! Why didn’t anyone think of it before! And there you have a “Window into MY soul”. I suggest you close it quick… and lock it before any more such thoughts escape. “Or, I’ll give you SUCH a PINCH!”


Jeff Overturf said...

I say the two go together perfectly.

I applaud le differance!

Joe Torcivia said...

Clearly, I must agree too, Jeff! I bought the darned things, after all!

Still, if I were the clerk ringing-up that sale (…can we STILL call it “ringing-up”?), I know I’d smile to myself!


Mark Arnold said...

"Larry's Fine, but Joe's Besser!"

-Mike Carlin, "Crazy" magazine

Joe Torcivia said...

Wise words, from a great editor!

Mark Lungo said...


My first exposure to Joe Besser was his role in The Houndcats, a 1972 Depatie-Freleng series that helped get me hooked on the "comedy/adventure series featuring funny animals" genre. For years afterward, I thought Besser was "that guy from The Houndcats" rather than "that guy from The Three Stooges". (Besser also played a genie in the 1973 animated version of I Dream of Jeannie.) Similarly, for me Frank Nelson was "that guy from The Oddball Couple" until I discovered his previous career with Jack Benny.

Joe Torcivia said...


Different persons’ perspectives always fascinate me.

In mine, the great Mickey Mouse artist was Paul Murry, and the great Popeye artist was Bud Sagendorf… Because I never saw the work of Floyd Gottfredson and E.C.Segar growing up in the sixties!

But, Joe Besser was always “Joe Besser”! Be he on The Three Stooges or The Abbott and Costello Show!