Have Rocket, Will Travel

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HAVE ROCKET, WILL TRAVEL—the veteran clown maniacs known as The Three Stooges weathered personnel changes through the deaths of Moe Howard’s brothers (Jerome, known to us as ‘Curly, and Shemp), but they were faced with being cast adrift, outdated, after Columbia ended their contract, as the studios stopped producing short films.

The shorts migrated to TV, and new, vastly larger legions of fans discovered the zanies, giving the slapstickers a last lease on life. Off the renewed popularity came six feature films, with this 1959 effort the first, having fun with the raging space race. Trouble is–and all True Stooge Disciples know this–beloved Curly’s replacements, first Joe Besser (get away!) and then Joe DeRita (here as ‘Curly Joe’) just never cut it.*

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Even as a six-year old I could see this was Weak Stooge, but what the heck, I guess it entertained plenty of tots from Philly to Pago Pago, so we’ll give this 76-minute goof a pass.  Why be hostile about a talking unicorn? Directed by David Lowell Rich, co-starring Anna-Lisa, Robert Colbert (immortal as ‘Doug’, lost in The Time Tunnel ) and Jerome Cowan. It made a tidy $2,500,000 off a teeny $380,000 investment, paving the way for five more silly feature films and scads of personal appearances. **  Girls & Grown-Ups could sneer ineffectually.

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  • *Curly the First managed to be both inimitable and constantly imitated at the same time: there are entire generations that summon some of his signature noises to identify a given situation, be it annoying or pleasurable. Verbal shorthand refined to Art. Nyuk
  • ** Lest we forget a crucial cameo in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, greeting the somehow-landed plane carrying Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett and the unconscious ‘Tyler Fitzgerald’ (Jim Backus). Fans will know…
  • Those other’s (all pretty harmless): Snow White And The Three Stooges, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, The Three Stooges In Orbit, The Three Stooges Go Around The World In A Daze and  The Outlaws IS Coming! 
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