By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 13, 2009 at 4:46AM
As a longtime 3-D aficionado, my two favorite shots from the “golden age” of stereoscopic moviemaking (that is to say, 1953) have always been the paddle-ball man in House of Wax and the mad doctor (Phil Van Zandt) who extends a hyper-long hypodermic needle toward the camera in The Three Stooges’ short Spooks. By constructing an absurdly long prop needle...
and holding it in place long enough for our eyes to focus on it—unlike other objects that fly by—this simple gag tops many more ambitious moments in major studio feature films of the period. I’ve seen it on screen a number of times but I never dreamt I’d be able to experience it at home. Now, in this 7th volume of Sony’s definitive Stooges collection—each film beautifully remastered and presented in chronological order—it’s happened. I don’t think any Stoogephile would nominate either Spooks or Pardon My Backfire for a list of all time best Stooge comedies, but the novelty of their 3-D staging is undeniable. Wearing the red-green glasses that come with the new DVD set isn’t especially comfortable, and it takes time for one’s eyes to fully adjust...but to my amazement, the 3-D process really works! There is depth to the images and separation of the planes of actors and set-pieces—like the mad doctor’s laboratory table, which stands out prominently in the foreground of a repeated shot. With producer-director Jules White and screenwriter Felix Adler missing no opportunity to hurl objects at the camera, these shorts provide just what they did more than half a century ago: a fun experience. I just wish the films themselves were better; even as a kid I couldn’t believe that White didn’t retake the finale of Spooks after the cream pies miss their targets!
(Sony Home Entertainment)