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The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962)
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 12:07 pm    Post subject: The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962) Reply with quote



"The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" was produced by Columbia Pictures and released on January 26, 1962.

Written & produced by Norman Maurer who was Moe Howard's son-in-law.

Synopsis. In modern day (1962) Ithaca, New York, Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe work in a drug store.

Their next-door neighbor and friend Schuyler Davis is a brilliant scientist who has constructed a time machine. Schuyler, his girlfriend Diane Quigley, and the Stooges are all transported back through time to Ithaca in ancient Greece.

There, they meet the evil King Odius and his enforcer, the legendary Hercules.

I always felt that this was the best of the Three Stooges feature films.

Moe Howard expressed great fondness for the film, especially the scenes on board the slave galley ship.

It offers up time travel for the SF element; battling the powerful and mighty Hercules; it's a period piece; and most importantly: there are pies thrown!

This film was such a box office hit that Columbia Pictures offered Normandy Production, the Three Stooges Production Company, a three-picture deal.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Hey, this DOES look good! And the brief clip of the galley ship scene looks wild. Very Happy

Unfortunately the full movie is not on Youtube, but it is available on Netflix, so I added it to my list!

Thanks, Mike! Cool


______ The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (Trailer)


__________

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're most welcome Bruce.

In my ongoing fantasy quest to envision movies which did not utilize the marvelous stop~motion sorcery of the legendary Willis O'Brien or Ray Harryhausen, here is my vision for TTSMH.

Schuyler, now posing as Hercules in the film, is assigned to the famous 12 Labors of Hercules. Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe acting as his agents.

We have one scene where Schuyler begins his first labor battling the Cyclops. In this movie the Cyclops was twin actors made up as the mythic creature.

In my version we see Cyc in stop~motion form. Of course, the design should be different from the magnificent Ray Harryhausen iteration from his wonderful "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" from years earlier.

The Stooges film then goes onto showing a quick montage of scenes of Schuyler completing some of the 12 Labors.

How about we show some more lengthy scenes ala stop~motion of Schuyler taking on a few of those Labors where stop~motion could be seen?

The Lernean Hydra, Stymphalean Birds, Cerebus, and the Nemean Lion would have all been excellent candidates for Obie or Ray to animate.
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Imagine...seeing Herc clean out the stables in stop motion!

The fifth labour was to clean the stables of King Augeas. This assignment was intended to be both humiliating and impossible, since these divine livestock were immortal, and had produced an enormous quantity of dung. The Augean stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there.

Of course according to legend he did it by redirecting a couple of rivers, but how great would it be seeing Hercules shoveling &%#@ !

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Mike, I owe you a debt of gratitude . . .again! Cool

I just finished watching The Three Stooges Meet Hercules on a Netflix DVD, and I was amazed. This movie turned a life-long "Stooge critic" into a brand new "Stooge fan"!

The plot is intelligent, imaginative, complex, and witty as hell! It's packed with subtle dialog that kept me giggling during the periods between the clever sight-gags — which it's chock full of! Laughing

I never once rolled my eyes and mumbled "Oh brother . . . " at a joke that seemed juvenile. Admittedly it has some of the usual slap-hit-bonk humor that the Stooges are famous for, but these moments were rationed out sparingly.

In fact, the defining aspect of the trio is the way they deal with problems and devise solutions! In other words, the three main characters are goofy — but not stupid!

In fact, at the start of the film Curly Joe discovers that his newly invented "calm down pills" work beautifully. He carries a large bottle of them around in his pocked throughout the entire time-travel adventure and uses them to good advantage in a dozen situations when people threaten our heroes.

That's just one example of how this wacky trio demonstrate cleverness, bravery, and calm-under-pressure as they embark on a quest to (get this, guys) rectify a tragic change in the timeline, which they accidentally create when their out-of-control time machine initially lands in the middle of a Greek war and causes the wrong side to win! Shocked

The rest of the movie is a heroic quest to correct that error, along with several imaginative subplots which involve the rescue a young girl who traveled back with them, and to bolster the courage of the young inventor who loves her.

All these meritorious plot elements make this movie a joy to watch, not just as a slapstick comedy but as a genuine "hero's quest" and a sci-fi movie about time travel. Very Happy

I was curious about how much Amazon charged for the DVD. Unfortunately, the price is $39.43. Sad

_______________

But imagine my surprise when I also discovered the 6-move set shown below, which includes The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and five other features! The user reviews all give it 5-stars, and I found no complaints about the picture quality!

The price for the two-disk set is . . . (drum roll, please) . . . $3.99. Shocked

I might just buy this little gem! (Thanks again, Mike. Cool



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So glad you got a kick out of the movie, Bruce.

Listen, I get your wholly justified criticisms regarding the Three Stooges.

While I found them funny as a kid; I didn't so much as an adult. Their slapstick humor was really aimed at kids and I can't admonish them for that reality.

As an adult I can still continue to be entertained by the terrific Marx Brothers to this day. They remain my favorite comedy team of all time.

Adults can get a kick out of the biting insults that flew out of Groucho. The con-man/rogue that was Chico. The madcap pantomime of Harpo. And the hilarious wordplay routines between Groucho & Chico.

Their films satirized almost every aspect of American life and pointed out the crazy standards of society.

Abbott & Costello did their vaudeville routines with slick perfection from years of practice that one can appreciate.

However, the Stooges were primarily slapstick comics pure and simple. They did not have the artistry of those other famous comedic teams.

But as you point out, in TTSMH they are goofy but not dumb. That makes a difference in their being entertaining on a higher level.

Production Note. During the chariot race 300-lb Joe DeRita accidentally lost his grip and fell directly on top of Larry Fine, knocking Larry unconscious.

The Three Stooges were offered another film by Columbia Pictures which had produced their "Have Rocket, Will Travel" when it became a box-office smash.

Incredibly, the Stooges turned the studio down.

By then, the Stooges had formed their own company, Normandy Productions, with Norman Maurer as writer and producer (and sometimes director).

Columbia had produced the Three Stooges two-reelers from their first one in 1934, "Woman Haters," to their final short in 1956 "Commotion on the Ocean."

The studio, which never gave the team much respect, was deceptive to the Stooges regarding how popular their two-reelers really were. So over the years the Stooges never made any serious money, even though their films made Columbia a bundle.

Columbia continued to work Curly unrelentingly when his health was seriously declining and could be considered partly responsible for his early death.

When the Stooges popularity did begin to wane in the 50s, Columbia unceremoniously dumped the iconic comedy team.

Finally being in the position to be able to turn down the studio that had never given the Stooges respect or much of a salary, credit for the studios success, and had worked Curly to death, and then got rid of them without so much as a proper goodbye, was very satisfying for Moe & Larry.

Columbia, once again showing their true colors, decided to do a Stooges film even though they were unable for the first time in decades, to obtain the Stooges services.

The feature film was called "Stop, Look, and Laugh." The title was modeled at a popular nationwide campaign for school kids crossing streets called Stop, Look, and Cross in order to be aware of street vehicles.

The movie was a collection of various old Stooges two-reelers, with new film footage of ventriloquist Paul Winchell & his dummies Jerry Mahoney & Knucklehead Smiff edited into the motion picture.

Columbia never bothered to inform the Stooges about this film.

Norman Maurer & the Stooges immediately consulted their attorneys, who in turn took the case to the Superior Court of Los Angeles citing Columbia's movie as unfair competition.

An injunction was issued preventing Columbia from releasing their film.

The studio apologized, admitted they were wrong, and agreed to a settlement whereby they would be allowed to release "Stop, Look, and Laugh," and would finance Normandy Productions' "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules."

And ya'll thought making a Stooges movie was a simple affair.

I can only imagine the immense pleasure that this gave Moe & Larry after years of mistreatment by Columbia Pictures.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Great story, Mike! I didn't know anything about the hard times the team had. Sad

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules presented their characters in such a favorable light that I can easily believe the three actors were actually fine gentlemen as well. So, I'm sure glad they managed to push back against the greedy studio "suits" and win a few rounds. Very Happy

By the way, I was pleased to see that the director was Edward Bernds. My favorite of his movies is World Without End. And it's nice to know that

Also, IMDB has this interesting trivia item which pertains to the fine script that made the movie so enjoyable!

First film of The Three Stooges written and produced by Norman Maurer, who was the son-in-law of Moe Howard. Maurer had written and drawn the Three Stooges comic book for many years before branching into films.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the Bill Warren Book:

This film established the Three Stooges as feature film stars, but their rise to that status didn't last very long; their films pooped out before the decade was over, but served to reestablish them in the public mind. This and the immediate (same year) follow-up, The Three Stooges in Orbit, were surprisingly funny. There's less of the violent, repetitious slapstick of the shorts, more emphasis on comedy situations and, in this film, a surprisingly sturdy plot.

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules is clearly no classic comedy, but it has its moments. There's none of the sticky sentimentality that seriously marred Snow White and the Three Stooges the previous year; even the love story between the ingenues is minimized: it merely drives part of the plot, and takes up little screen time. The film is briskly and efficiently plotted.

Note from me: I enjoyed the Stooges Snow White film even if the love story was a tad on the hokey side. Of all the Stooges feature films, Snow White, had the most lavish budget of 'em all and it certainly looked it. Some of the songs were charming. I wish they had not played down the slapstick elements as much as they did in Snow White, but its a better movie than Warren (and Moe Howard) gave it credit for.

The Three Stooges meet Hercules was quickly shot in the summer of 1961 at a budget of $450,000 and grossed at least $2 million on its early-1962 release.

Note from me: The interior and exterior sets were pretty good for this historical film. Two feature films made about ancient Greece in the 50s were Alexander the Great (Richard Burton as Al), and Helen of Troy. I don't recall if either had an enormous budget but it seems like their exterior & interior Greek sets were handsomely done. Had they been still standing and available and in Hollywood, I wonder if theses sets would have enhanced the Stooges Hercules movie? Given it an even more epic scope.

Samson Burke, the muscle-builder who played Hercules, was nervous about his performance. He was a thorough amateur according to director Edward Bernds, and certainly Burke's performance in the film confirms this. Bernds added that Samson was a bit on the timid side....Moe was braver in doing all the physical stuff than this mighty mass of muscle.

Note from me: Warren & Bernds are being unfair to Burke given the circumstances. Burke was hired for his impressive physique and not his acting of which he had no previous experience.

Looking back at those Steve Reeves Hercules movies, fun as they are, Steve (who looked the part of Hercules like no other) was no thespian either. In fact, none of those Italian muscle-men movies possessed top notch actors in the roles of the strongman.

Burke did okay and never is a distraction in the film due to his lack of experience.

Vicki Trickett (Diane) is decorative here, and little more. George Neise (Ralph Dimsal & Odius), is quite splendid. His performances are precisely in the right tone for a slapstick villain: self-obsessed, greedy, quick-tempered, lecherous, mean and cranky. Everything is a touch broad, pleasantly reaffirming that we are indeed watching a comedy. Neise had been around since the mid-40s, but rarely had large roles.

Note from me: George was wonderful as Dimsal & Odius, both were louses. He did occasionally play a decent chap now and then and was equally good in those roles, too. He played an old school friend of Sally Rogers (Rose Marie) on the Dick Van Dyke Show in a sympathetic part.

Quinn Redeker (Schuyler Davis) is a surprise, not for what he does here, but for his later career. He's spirited in Meet Hercules, taking pratfalls and bouncing around with an appearance of having fun, but the role is ill-defined (what do you expect?), and Redeker sometimes seems stiff and uncertain. But still, for the kind of film it is, he's not bad.

He would end up co-writing the impressive dramatic movie The Deer Hunter.

Cinematographer Charles S. Welborn makes the most of the inexpensive sets, and gives the film a handsome look, though the extra investment required for color might have been worth it.

Note from me: As I noted earlier, it would have been cool to see Meet Hercules have the access to exterior and interior sets from previous epic historical movies that had better budgets & were set in ancient Greece.

Writers Elwood Ullman and Norman Maurer cleverly give many of the 12 Labors of Hercules to Schuyler.

Note from me: I've suggested before that it would have been fantastic to see the movie devote more time to Schuyler's tackling the legendary labors. The film rushes through the labors with quick-cut scenes in a disappointing montage.

I would have loved to have seen some more elaborate action sequences with Schuyler confronting stop-animated creatures.

While this clearly is a Stooges film, it is also an action-adventure one, too. This is as important an element as the comedy and should have been treated with more respect and thrills. Not just a brief series of throwaway gags.

Note from me: Warren points out that the Siamese Cyclops "is a silly creation." He's correct. I know some folks feel that since this is a Stooges comedy that a foolish looking monster is appropriate.

I've never felt that way. Just because a movie is a comedy doesn't automatically consign (condemn) that all, or many, of the aspects of a funny film must be also look goofy. Adding some awesome looking stop-motion creatures would have not only been visually dazzling, but it could have provided some welcome suspense and drama.

It also is a key plot point in creating the myth of Hercules via Schuyler being an impostor of the Greek hero, and that deserves more screen time and should be done with incredible FX.

I realize that this film didn't have such a budget for all this, but it sure would have made this a heck of a lot more entertaining and memorable.

About the only real spoofing the film does is of its own low budget: late in the film, as the fake Hercules, Schuyler announces he is going to fight the Hydra. He leaves the set; we hear some off-screen cheers, and he bounces back to announce, "Well, that takes care of the Hydra."

Note from me: Bill Warren is correct that the movie was forced to work within its constrained budget which resulted in this kind of scene. I know the production was doing the best it could with the money it had, but for me, at least, it's a letdown of what could have been.

But the film pleased its fans, and it has not dated. The Stooges exist in a timeless limbo; their humor so basic that it dates less than the far superior comedy teams, including Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis and even, at times Laurel & Hardy.

Note from me: The above is an interesting observation by Warren into the Stooges style of comedy compared to other movie comedy teams.

I have no difficulty with the fact that films with other comedy teams are "dated." Look, they were made in a certain era and reflect that era. I enjoy movies that indicate what was going on at the time. Pre-WW II, during WW II, and after are shown in the cinema and gives us a look into our history and the thinking, attitudes, of those days. Some of it dates well, some not. But it shows us how things were back then and what things, such as clothes & cars, looked like.

Note from me: However, I never saw Martin & Lewis as a superior team to the Stooges. They were tremendously popular during their reign at the box office, but I know few folks who rave about them these days, or hold a Martin & Lewis film festival.

I suppose they were slicker (their movies clearly had higher budgets than the Stooges ever did), and somewhat more sophisticated compared to the Stooges, but that doesn't always translate into being funnier. Some critics site that Jerry was really the entire act while Dean was just a prop.

After they split in 1956 we did get to see Dean evolve on screen & TV as a truly funny gent. The fact was he was always a funny man according to people who knew him. He wasn't allowed to show that side as part of the Martin & Lewis act, partly due to the insecure & monstrous, jealous ego of Lewis.

Note from me: In the end, Meet Hercules was funny when it was released in 1962 and is still amusing right here in the 21st century. It's a film the Stooges were proud of as well they should have been.


Last edited by Pow on Tue Dec 14, 2021 10:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Mike, I love your well-written and expertly researched comment! Very Happy

Sir, may I respectfully request that you format future post of this kind to show the readers when you're quoting a source and when you're adding a comment of your own?

The addition of a ~ before your own comments isn't quite enough to alert us when the text has switched from "quotes" by other people to comments by you.

This is why I always include Note from me before my own remarks on posts which quote IMDB trivia items. It clearly separates my statements from the trivia items I've quoted.

Mike, thanks for being such a valuable member of All Sci-Fi. We all look forward to your future posts! Cool

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2022 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some more Trivia: When the Stooges start up Skylar's time machine, one of the sounds it makes is the alarm used inside UNCLE headquarters on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Note: I'm changing my suggestion that this film should have had Ray Harryhausen animating the Two-Headed Cyclops. Yeah, Ray could have created a different looking Cyclops here than the magnificent one he did for his classic 7th Voyage of Sinbad. However, why repeat himself? I doubt any Cyclops for this Stooges film could possibly be superior to the Sinbad iteration.

So in the name of doing something fresher, how about Herc's famous 10th Labor? In it, he battles the Geryon (sometimes spelled Geryone). This was a fearsome humanoid giant with three-heads.

Three-heads is a lot to animate, and the humanoid model with three-heads might appear awkward, or worse, even be laughable. Two-heads might work better and it would be similar to the two-headed Cyclops we do see in the Stooges movie. Just don't make it as both heads having one eye. Ray could create any kind of creature he wanted in this case.

The other dangerous creatures could be the Stymphalian birds from the 6th labor. These were a huge flock of vicious man-eating birds. Ray could design two or three armature models of these mythic birds because building a lot of them would be costly. Movie magic could make 'em look like a flock.

These few scenes could have elevated this fun film even higher. Imagine: The Three Stooges Meet Ray Harryhausen. Now that would have been awesome.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still more thoughts on The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.
Recently watched a fine copy of this movie on Youtube. Having not viewed it in some years, this gave me a chance to study it in detail and note some plot holes along the way.
Schuyler Davis (Quinn Redeker) refers to his invention as a "space-time conveyer."

During the encounter with the Siamese Cyclops we see the two-headed creature pick up Moe and dangle him in the air. Moe yells to Curly-Joe to toss him the whole bottle of "calm down pills" that Curly has invented. Moe, rightly so, figures that this enormous creature will require far more than one or two pills to knock "them" out. However, in the finale in the Greek Arena, Schuyler refuses Curly-Joe's pills when Schuyler takes on Hercules.

Just where did this second bottle of pills come from? We saw Moe toss the entire bottle into the mouth of the Cyclops earlier in the film. There was no indication that Curly possessed two bottles when he journeyed back through time. There were no scenes that he concocted more pills, if he even could, in ancient Greece.

By the way, in addition to the plot having Curly-Joe invent his calm down pills; it also had Larry invent pep-up pills. But that aspect of the story is immediately dropped. Wouldn't those have helped Schuyler in his encounters with the various mythological creatures? Feed the creatures pills that tranquilize them, then Schuyler pills that energize him. Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be a family-fun comedy.
Endorsing drugs is a big no-no.

In the hilarious chariot pie-throwing getaway finale we have another peculiar thing happen. The Stooges, Schuyler, and Diane escape evil King Odios by hopping into a chariot. Odios promptly follows them in another chariot. How he thought he could possibly battle the now super strong Schuyler all by himself is a mystery. Guess the King of Ithaca was that enraged that they were fleeing with his intended (but unwilling) wife-to-be, Diane. And just why was the king all alone? Where were his soldiers? The escape was from the kingdom of Ithaca, so there should have been soldiers a plenty to back up their nasty old king.

The time machine itself was a strange affair. Why exactly did it travel to ancient Greece and stop there? We didn't see Schuyler program it in any way, or the Stooges either. When they escape at the end of the movie we again wonder how the time machine knew how to return them to precisely the same date and locale without being told? Why didn't it stop at other eras along the way?

I know, I know. It's only a Three Stooges film. Still and all, it's fun to ponder these problems and see if there are ways to address them so that the script makes more sense. It remains a fun and entertaining science fiction film with Larry, Moe, and Curly-Joe.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This fun film IS available on Youtube in a very good resolution!

____________ The Three Stooges Meet Hercules


___________

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

__________________________________________________

I could have SWORN I'd posted the link the full movie! Shocked

Thanks, Gord! Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enjoyed the movie a lot as a kid, and just re-watched it over the weekend and still enjoyed it, but to a lesser degree; what with more sophisticated grown-up tastes and all Laughing

Followed it up with The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze and still enjoyed that too.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2022 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know just what you mean tmlindsey. The Three Stooges appealed mostly to kids, and that's fine. However, as one grows up we find their antics not as hilarious as we did at ten years old. My favorite movie comedy team has always been the Marx Brothers.

I can watch them over and over again because they incorporate so many different comedic aspects in one team. Groucho gives us the clever sarcastic remarks, Chico is the ultimate con artist, and Harpo's silent antics gives us the slapstick. Together they take aim at the hypocrisies of civilized society and pop 'em like a balloon.

The Stooges were a one-note comedy team. Slapstick was their only schtick and they did it quite well. Where the Marx Brothers brought us variety and sophistication with their routines, the Stooges only brought one thing to the game. The Marx Brothers are a fine wine; the Stooges are beer.
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