We like to have our pre-Christmas show be something a little lighter in nature whenever we can, in keeping with the season- and what could be more appropriate than a movie that has a jolly plump gentleman taking a trip through the skies? However, his assistants are not elves- and they aren’t planning on coming down the chimney- they’re heading to Venus! That gent with the jolly jelly belly also is NOT St. Nick- it’s Curly Joe DeRita, in the final combination of the 3 Stooges- who swoops into the stratosphere with Moe Howard and Larry Fine – and, since they don’t have a sleigh, they say “Have Rocket, Will Travel”!
In 1959, this was the very first feature film starring the Stooges, who are working as maintenance men at the National Space Foundation. All is not well at the agency- their latest rocket launch is the latest in a string of failures. Speaking of failures, the missile has crash –landed right near the Stooges- who are snoozing in their headquarters. They hear such a clatter, they spring from their beds to see what was the matter- and go to examine the rocket, just as their ill-tempered boss J.P. Morris, pretty scientist Dr. Ingrid Naarveg and psychologist Ted Benson arrive. This latest disappointment will cost Morris a whopping $10 million! The boys are given the key to the rocket ( rockets had keys back then?) and are assigned to guard it -and also retrieve a monkey that was aboard the spaceship.
Dr. Ingrid and Ted return to their laboratory in search of answers – though it would seem Ted is searching for a little romance with the brainy blonde- who is more interested in her work than the scientific suitor! Meanwhile, the Stooges, engaged in their usual bumbling mayhem, accidentally do something right and get the rocket back into a ready-to-launch position. Their mission somewhat accomplished, they go back to their usual cleaning chores in the laboratory-just in time to hear J.P. give Ingrid some sad news- due to all the recent failures, the board of directors will end the project – and her employment- if she doesn’t solve the rocket’s fuel and thrust problems before their next meeting. The Stooges, not only taken by her beauty but also by her kindness to them, decide that it is their duty to help discover a fuel that can send the now-righted rocket successfully into space- and save Ingrid’s job.
Once again, totally by accident, the boys succeed, brewing up a new kind of powerful fuel -and devise a way to pump it into the ship’s fuel tank. Unfortunately, J.P. catches them in the act- and the Stooges flee to hide out in the rocket. When J.P. stumbles onto the line that has refueled the ship-he accidentally causes it to blast off!
As the boys head out into outer space, they find themselves dealing with everything from meteor showers to weightlessness- oblivious to the new dangers that await them when they land on Venus- like fire-breathing tarantulas, talking unicorns, and a malevolent robot with amazing powers- and a sinister plan for the boys!
This film was the next step in the revival of the Stooges’ popularity, which was sparked when their old Columbia comedy shorts were released to TV in the 50s, and became a huge hit with a new generation!. Though it’s nice to see Moe and Larry, no matter how much older they appear to be, Joe DeRita ( not quite as annoying a third Stooges as Joe Besser was) tries a little too hard at times to imitate the original Curly, Jerry Howard. Regardless, reconstituted Stooges are better than no Stooges, especially when they reprise a lot of the slapstick routines we know from the shorts- plus some business they were prohibited from doing in their films that followed, which we’ll explain! We’ll go over the history of how the boys arrived at this point in their careers, introduce some of the cast, get some Stooges insights from Gilbert Gottfried, and – even get a visit from Sventa Claus!
“Have Rocket, Will Travel” blasts off tonight on MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, and you can check for time and channel in your area in your local listings, or at www.metv.com . Chicago area viewers can again get some revenge- the “Revenge of Frankenstein”, Hammer style, this morning at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
Our latest action figure has gotten down to less than the last third of our supply- so we encourage you to order yours sooner than later if you are interested.
We hope you enjoy the interplanetary insanity with the Stooges tonight- and take this opportunity to wish all of you a very merry Christmas- please spread love, happiness and kindness- and good will to your fellow man! Make the world a brighter place!