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A Three Stooges film long thought lost has turned up in a shed in Australia

October 11, 2013

A Three Stooges film long thought lost has turned up in a shed in Manly.

The only missing short film by The Three Stooges has been found in a Manly shed. Film collector Malcolm Smith, 78, was clearing out his old films when he came across Hello, Pop!, an 18-minute backstage musical from 1933 that he bought from another collector in the 1950s.

''I've been disposing of my film library because I don't know how much longer I'll be around,'' Mr Smith said.

''When I came across that one I thought, no, I'll put that aside. I suspected it could be a lost film.''

Having never touched a computer or used a mobile phone, Mr Smith asked a friend to check with vintage film experts in the US.

When he discovered Hello, Pop! had been lost in an MGM vault fire in 1967 - the only missing short from the comedy group's long career - he gave them his 35mm Technicolor nitrate print.

After being restored, the short is getting a ''premiere'' in New York this weekend.

Mr Smith, who worked in film until his retirement in 1986, has collected films for six decades.

He bought Hello, Pop! from a collector who had rescued it to stop it being destroyed after its cinema run. It had been screening for friends on what was called ''the home show circuit''.

It is not the first time Mr Smith has helped save a vintage Hollywood film. Five years ago, his collection allowed sound to be restored to the MGM short Hollywood Party.

Film historian Paul Brennan, who represents the Warner Bros archive in Australia and will be at the Hello, Pop! screening at New York's Film Forum, helped ship the film to the US.

''Across America, there are probably 5 million hardcore Three Stooges fans,'' he said. ''On NitrateVille or any of the websites that search for lost vintage material, there is euphoria that the sole missing Three Stooges film has been found.''

Mr Brennan said it was no surprise that lost Hollywood films were turning up in Australia.

''They'd ship prints out here and they never needed to come back. Often they were souvenired from the rubbish bin or the tip.''

While glad to have helped preserve Hello, Pop!, Mr Smith is no fan of The Three Stooges.

''But I love vintage film,'' he said. ''I love film of the '20s, '30s, '40s and the early '50s - up until 1955 when rock 'n' roll came in with Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and that was the end of things for me.''

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