Three Little Pigskins
|Three Little Pigskins|
One-sheet for Three Little Pigskins; the Stooges were not professionally known as "The Three Stooges" when the film was released as they were billed by their individual names
|Directed by||Raymond McCarey|
|Produced by||Jules White|
|Written by||Felix Adler
|Edited by||James Sweeney|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||18' 25"|
The Stooges are "recruited" by a college to drum up publicity for the college's football team by being dressed up as football players. Meanwhile, the owner of a professional football team, Joe Stacks, has to find three new players for the next game. One of Joe's girlfriends soon meets the Stooges and confuses them for genuine college football players known as "The Three Horsemen" (a parody of the "Four Horsemen" of Notre Dame fame). The Stooges go back to her house and meet the girl's two friends.
After squirting each other with nightcap bottles, everyone decides to play the game "Blind man's buff." The Stooges are blindfolded and walk around trying to find the girls. Just at that moment, Joe and his two henchmen walk in. They punch out the trio and then chase them around the house. One of the women finally explains that the three strangers are actually "The Three Famous Horsemen," and Joe offers them money to play for him.
Naturally, the trio have not a clue how to play football. Their first game (staged at Hollywood's Gilmore Stadium) turns into a fiasco. Realizing that they have been swindled, the three managers turn their revolvers on the Stooges, hitting them on the buttocks as they attempt to flee.
"...a humdinger of bangs and bruises"
Moe Howard once called Three Little Pigskins "a humdinger of bangs and bruises," as it marked the first time the Stooges flatly refused to perform a stunt. In the film, during the game the boys are stopped by photographers to pose for a picture, when the football players then tackle them. The football players were real college football players, and the Stooges (whose small stature is very apparent in this film) were afraid of being hurt. Larry Fine, the smallest and lightest of the three, told director Raymond McCarey, "Look, we can't do this scene. We're not stuntmen and if one of those gorillas falls on us, we'll never be able to finish the picture. We've never used stunt doubles before but we certainly need them now." The fact that both Curly and Larry had been hurt a few days earlier filming Three Little Pigskins (Curly broke his leg riding down the dumbwaiter and Larry lost a tooth due to a mistimed punch) reinforced the trio's decision to opt out of the scene.
McCarey assured the Stooges that it was safe, saying "Listen, fellows, you know how to take falls. You've done enough of them. It'll take hours to find doubles for you. Besides, we can't afford them. Don't worry, you won't get hurt."
Moe Howard dryly agreed with McCarey, saying "You're darn right we won't get hurt. We're not doing the scene."
Less than an hour after the exchange, the studio found three stunt doubles made up to look like the Stooges. McCarey yelled "Action" and all hell broke loose. Two of the three were seriously injured with broken limbs, as were all four photographers. The only stunt double not hurt was the one doubling for Curly Howard because of the padding that he wore to resemble the rotund Stooge. Moe Howard later said in his autobiography that "McCarey was speechless and sat in his director's chair with his head in his hands."
Three Little Pigskins was filmed on October 25-30, 1934. The film's title is a multiple pun, derived from The Three Little Pigs, along with "pigskin" being a synonym for a football. The film marked one of the earliest credited appearances for a then blonde-haired Lucille Ball, who played a supporting role as one of the female recruiters and would herself become known for her own work in physical comedy in later years. Later in her career, when this short was brought up, Ball (apparently referring to the seltzer squirting scene) would remark, "The only thing I learned from The Three Stooges was how to duck. I still got wet!"
This is the first of several Stooge shorts involving a dumbwaiter, usually involving Curly accidentally destroying the floor of the elevator, causing injury to Larry and Moe. The dumbwaiter would reappear in Nutty But Nice.
For the football game, Moe's jersey number is H2O2 (the abbreviation for hydrogen peroxide), Larry's is 1/2, and Curly's is a question mark "?".
There was no attempt to hide the venue, Gilmore Stadium, as its name on the scoreboard appears in several shots. There is also a shot that includes a billboard for Gilmore Oil, including its trademark symbol, a lion.
A planned concluding scene had the Stooges, years later, telling the story to their sons. It is unknown if this scene was ever filmed, but publicity photos exist of the Stooges, each with a young actor, all made up and dressed to resemble their older counterparts.
- Howard, Moe (1977, rev. 1979). Moe Howard and the Three Stooges. Citadel Press. pp. 79, 81. ISBN 0-8065-0723-3.
- Pauley, Jim (2012). The Three Stooges Hollywood Filming Locations. Solana Beach, California: Santa Monica Press, LLC. p. 270. ISBN 9781595800701.
- Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Glendale, California: Comedy III Productions, Inc. p. 54. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4.