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Have Rocket Will Travel (1959)
Topic Started: Apr 28 2018, 07:48 PM (217 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Have Rocket Will Travel (1959) Dir. David Lowell Rich
A Columbia Picture
77 min. / B&W /1.78:1
Blu-ray: Mill Creek Entertainment

ITB Strange Science Cinema #164

The Three Stooges are janitors down at the the local experimental rocket lab, and to help out a lady scientist, they concoct a fuel formula (that includes Bromo-Seltzer and popcorn) and shoot themselves off to Venus, where they meet an affable unicorn, a giant flame-spitting tarantula, and a soulless computer that whips up murderous robot duplicates of the Stooges.

Columbia Pictures had unceremoniously fired the Stooges after 25 years of uninterrupted mayhem and sold their pictures to television and, well, the rest is history: Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, and Joe became TV phenoms, and so Columbia hastily brought Moe and Larry back and told them to find a new third Stooge (Curly retired in 1946 and died in 1952, Shemp left the mortal coil in 1955, and Joe "Not so H-A-A-A-A-A-ARD!" Besser, after a couple of years of Stoogery, had had enough). Enter Joe DeRita, burlesque comic, who looked enough like Curly that they could crop his hair and call him "Curly Joe" and get away with it. Interestingly, sort of, the Stooges were deemed an act solely for the kiddies and thus given a kiddie movie to star in, with a journeyman writer who'd never worked with them and a novice director. The result, as may be expected, doesn't exactly rank with their best work from their prime (at this point, Moe was 62, Larry 56, and newcomer Curly Joe a baby at only 50) but, all things considered, is a worthy attempt to launch a new Stooge era.

DeRita is often derided (see what I did there?) but heck, who was going to elevate the Stooges at this stage in their career - nobody. Curly Joe is game, does a Curly "woo woo" at one point, and works with the team as they revive a few cherished bits from their heyday, including fixing pipes in the basement by building a prison made out of metal tubes and getting a couch spring stuck on his ass so that he bounces up from the floor when he's dancing at a fancy ball. They're an oldies act now, but the kids probably loved 'em (I saw a later film, The Three Stooges in Orbit, when I was in elementary school - they showed it to us in the gym! - and I remember liking it just fine). And this movie's okay, although the beautiful Blu-ray from Mill Creek does the team no favors- seeing Moe's kisser on a huge screen in HD is rather frightening. I can't wait for a Shemp HD release!

Helping out the team are the lovely Swede puppeteer Anna-Lisa as the unsuccessful rocket scientist and Robert Colbert as her wooden boyfriend; Colbert, as it turns out, was the guy they brought in as the third Maverick brother for a few episodes in the post-Jim Garner era. Garner he ain't, folks. Jerome Cowan is the overbearing science boss that the kids could hiss at (he was probably just like their school principal).

Million-dollar Dialog:

Nasty science boss, finding the Stooges and the lovely lady scientist having coffee in the lab: "The board doesn't approve of this sort of mixing, scientists with PEOPLE!"

To no one's surprise, the film was a big hit, and Columbia rushed out the bogus but funny Stop! Look! And Laugh! while the Stooges went on to toys, comics, more movies, TV appearances, and bubble gum cards: after all these years, their ship had finally come in.


For the kiddies, the beautiful CinemaScope cartoon When Magoo Flew, a gem; Mighty Mouse at the Circus; and Superman in Mechanical Monsters. All three were quite good.

Then it was "The Reducer Ray," the third episode of Superman.

Million-dollar Serial Dialog:
Superman, looking at a globe: "Hmmm. That's about 2000 miles away. I can be there in thirty seconds."

Stephen Carr - Tommy Carr's brother and the guy who points up in the air in The Adventures of Superman's opening credits - has a part as a scientific guy named Morgan in this episode which I only mention because if I don't tell you these things, hardly anybody would.
Edited by Laughing Gravy, Apr 28 2018, 07:55 PM.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Do remember seeing "Have Rocket Will Travel" in a theater (evening performance with parents). That super-computer with an arm for slapping people seriously creeped me out.

Reviewing in recent years, noted that the ballroom scene is packed with women who tower over the boys. There's never a specific gag about it, but somebody went out of their way for that funny visual.
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Frank Hale
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I'm going to repeat a post I did several years ago about Anna-Lisa on the "Indiscreet" thread:

Since Ingrid Bergman was always my idea of a beautiful woman, and since you're watching Maverick, I have to mention the second season episode called "The Judas Mask", which features an actress named "Anna-Lisa". The woman could have been Miss Bergman's sister: same stunning beauty and same soft [Scandinavian] accent. I just about fell out of my armchair. I guess she was mostly a television actress, but she cracked the big screen in "Have Rocket - Will Travel"!..

Unfortunately, she seems to have passed away just about a month ago at the age of 84, according to IMDb.

She apparently was in only 3 features. Wonder what she thought about this one?

(And now I KNOW I'm picking up that $6.75 Stooge blu-ray collection!)
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