For decades, "Hello Pop" (1933), a Technicolor comedy featuring The Three Stooges, has long been considered one of the many lost films from pre-1955 cinema. That is, until a December 2012 email from Australia surprised film historians, scholars, and preservationists with the announcement that a Technicolor print of the film does indeed exist. The movie will make its debut at the Film Forum's "Lost...Now Found" program on September 29-30.
Before setting out on their long running series of Columbia short comedies, The Three Stooges were supporting comedians to entertainer Ted Healy on stage and in a number of early sound movies. The Stooges films with Healy show the rough edges of the characters Moe, Larry, and Curly would develop later on, and because of the trio's timeless popularity, these early comedies are of great historical interest.
"Hello Pop" has long been the one and only elusive Three Stooges short, as it was believed to have been lost in a 1967 fire that destroyed an MGM studio vault. That was until Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project, a non-profit organization that specializes in restoring early cinema, was contacted by the email from Australia.
According to Hutchinson: "In December 2012, The Vitaphone Project received an email from Australia. The question was simple: Was "Hello Pop" a lost film? The Project confirmed it was, which led the other shoe to drop. The sender had a Technicolor 35mm nitrate print! This triggered a series of communications to verify the true existence of the print, confirm that the collector was willing to share it, and then to make arrangements to get it to the United States for restoration. The collector is in his mid-eighties, and has acquired 35mm film most of his life. He was extremely cooperative, and simply wanted to ensure "Hello Pop" went to the right place."
The Film Forum in New York will be presenting "Hello Pop" to American audiences for the first time in nearly 80 years. Other films on the program include the 1933 Vitaphone comedy "Gobs of Fun" in which stooge Shemp Howard appears with comedian George Givot and former silent movie star Olive Borden. Also, the long-unseen 1933 Robert Benchley short "Your Technocracy and Mine" will be presented in this program, as well as other short films and surviving snippets of Technicolor footage. Films are being provided by such sources as the George Eastman House and the Library of Congress.
The films will be shown at 3pm Sunday September 29, and at 3pm and 6:30pm on Monday September 30. The Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street in New York City. Tickets and more information can be obtained here.