Ok, here goes nothing.
So when should the stooges have called it quits? That’s a very interesting question that has a very simple answer. To me, it is very obvious that after Shemp’s death, the stooges started going downhill. They just weren’t as funny. Therefore, I think the stooges should have stopped in 1956 after “For Crimin’ Out Loud” was released.
After “For Crimin’ Out Loud” was released, the stooges decided to film four more shorts and have Joe Palma as a stand-in for Shemp. Now, that was a bad idea. Those four shorts are simply unbearable to watch. Just look at “Hot Stuff.” Joe Palma does a bad job at impersonating Shemp’s “eeb eeb.” Anybody would know that this guy is not really Shemp. It’s even suspicious when new footage is being shown and Shemp has his back facing the camera with his back bent.
After the four Palma shorts were released, we have Joe Besser taking over as the third stooge. While he may be a good comedian, he wasn’t fit to be a stooge. The fact that Joe Besser didn’t want to take any hits is already a sign that he isn’t going to be nearly as funny as Shemp and Curly. It’s really ridiculous to watch a short like “Hoofs and Goofs” and just see Larry taking all the hits. We also have his corny “not so hard” response. If that isn’t enough, we have some really bad shorts to go along with all of that such as: “Horsing Around” and “Sweet and Hot.” I can’t even think of any Shemp or Curly short that’s as bad as those two. They are just unbearable to watch. I doubt anyone can watch those two shorts and say, “That was hilarious!”
Let’s look at the remakes Moe, Larry and Joe did. First, we have “Guns a Poppin.” Even with Curly’s failing health, he did a much better job in “Idiots Deluxe.” Next, there is “Rusty Romeos.” No one can honestly say that this was funnier than “Corny Casanovas.” Even that picture that Shemp gives his fiancée that causes the cat to hiss is hilarious. Joe’s version of the picture is not funny at all. Then, we have “Quiz Whizz” which is also a very bad remake of “All The World’s a Stooge.” The next remake is “Pies and Guys.” Since Curly’s health was really bad in 1947 and he missed the pie fight, one can argue that this remake was probably better than “Half-Wits Holiday,” but it certainly wasn’t better than “Hoi Polloi.” So, this third remake was completely useless. Then comes “Oil’s Well That Ends Well.” This short was nowhere near as funny as “Oily To Bed, Oily To Rise.” After that, we have “Triple Crossed.” This is a terrible remake of “He Cooked His Goose.” Even the ending of this remake was bad. The ending of “He Cooked His Goose,” where Moe shoots Larry in the rear, was much funnier. Finally, there is “Sappy Bullfighter.” This is the last short the stooges ever made and it has to be another remake. I’m pretty sure most people would agree that “What’s the Matador” is MUCH better. So, there are 16 Besser shorts and 7 of them are remakes, none of which are better than the original. This pretty much proves that, at this point in time, they were out of ideas and should have already called it quits.
After Joe left the group, we have Curly-Joe DeRita taking over as the final third stooge. Now, he is just as bad as Besser in a very different way. There was not a single thing funny about him. Compare the maha-rajah routine in “The Three Stooges Go Around The World In A Daze” to the one in “Three Little Pirates.” Even with Curly’s failing health, he does a MUCH better job than DeRita. Now compare the Pop Goes The Weasel bit in the Daze movie to the one in “Punch Drunks.” Again, Curly does a far better job.
Another thing bad about the DeRita films is the fact that they cut down on the violence. That was a huge mistake. In fact, out of five films, there was only one eyepoke and that was in “Have Rocket, Will Travel.” The violence is what made the stooges funny. In addition to those five Columbia films, the stooges decide to star in “Snow White and the Three Stooges.” Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the stooges wouldn’t be caught dead in a movie like that. Then, they also decide to start a show called “Kook’s Tour.” I’m sure everyone here could agree that this was pretty bad. This show didn’t even get past the pilot episode due to Larry’s stroke. Now, Larry’s stroke is a sign that the stooges’ health are starting to deteriorate and that they should have called it quits a long time ago.
Both Curly and Shemp were funny in their own way. Curly had his woo-woo, nyuk nyuk and high-pitched voice. Shemp had his long, greasy hair; his eeb eeb; and his funny look. Those are what made them funny. There’s really nothing special in Besser or DeRita that is funny. They just had their corny dialogues like “not so hard” and “buddy boy.”
1956 is the best time for the stooges to call it quits. Sure, they did reuse a lot of stock footage at this time in their shorts, but they did have some hilarious new footage. Some examples include: the first scene in “Husbands Beware” and the new footage in “For Crimin Out Loud.” Those two shorts are worth watching just to see the new footage. And don’t forget the short, “Blunder Boys,” which is hilarious from start to finish. The ‘Halliday, Tarriday’ bit is a classic. After “For Crimin’ Out Loud,” all that laughter stops. So this is why the stooges should have called it quits after that short. The stooges lasted over 20 years at this point and I think that was already a great progress.