By Ralph Novak
November 21, 1988 12:00 PM

Like the eye-gouging, ear-twisting, nose-tweaking and skull-bonking they celebrate, the Stooges are an acquired taste. And for some people, 19 volumes’ worth—at 50 minutes or so apiece—might not be enough time to acquire it. The six shorts on these two tapes were made during the ’30s and ’40s; the Stooges are Jerry “Curly” Howard, Larry Fine and Moe Howard. They impersonate plumbers in one plot, photographers in another, exterminators in a third. The closest they come to verbal humor is Curly’s joke as a photographer in Dutiful but Dumb: “I’m positive about the negative, but I’m a little negative about the positive.” Most of the time the slapstick just proceeds at breakneck speed. It might all seem appalling, except that Stooges films have been shown—in some circles cultishly adored—for half a century and civilization seems to have survived, more or less. (RCA/Columbia, $14.95)