You Nazty Spy!

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You Nazty Spy!
Naztyspy lobby.jpeg
Original poster of You Nazty Spy (1940)
Directed by Jules White
Produced by Jules White
Written by
Starring
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 19, 1940 (1940-01-19)
Running time 17' 59"
Country United States
Language English

You Nazty Spy! is the 44th short subject starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.

Plot[edit]

In the fictional country of Moronica, three munitions manufacturers—Messrs. Ixnay (Richard Fiske), Ohnay (Dick Curtis) and Amscray (Don Beddoe)—decide their country is in need of a change. They decide to implement a dictatorship, oust the king, and go about finding someone stupid enough to be a figurehead leader. Ixnay volunteers the three wallpaper hangers simultaneously working in his dining room—the Stooges.

Ixnay presents Moe Hailstone, Curly Gallstone, and Larry Pebble with the offer to run Moronica. Moe is instituted as the leader (the Adolf Hitler role), with Curly as Field Marshal "Gallstone" — paralleled as Field Marshal "Herring" in this film's 1941 sequel, I'll Never Heil Again (both times as representations of Hermann Göring), and Larry as Minister of Propaganda Pebble (a representation of Joseph Goebbels). After his takeover, Hailstone proceeds to give a speech to the masses, cueing Larry to display signs reading "CHEERS", "APPLAUSE" and even "HISS". Moe "bonks" Larry after Larry accidentally raises the cue card for "HISS" at the wrong time during one of Hailstone's speeches. (In this scene Curly is clearly mimicking Benito Mussolini.)

However the daughter (Lorna Gray) of the overthrown king pays Hailstone a visit, going by the name Mattie Herring (a spoof of World War I spy Mata Hari). The Stooges suspect she is a spy after, and attempt to execute her. Then, Larry cuts a round table while a dancer arrives and tells them the delegates are here for the round table meeting. The meeting goes wrong when Curly knocks the first two delegates. While Moe and Curly attempt to again attack the delegates with golf balls, Larry is beaten up by the delegates. Moe joins the fight as Curly knocks the delegates out and declares victory. Later, the king's daughter gathers a huge mob to storm Hailstone's palace. The trio quickly abdicate, and flee into a lion's den. The lions inside spot the Stooges and chase them to their doom; the lions are seen leaving their secluded area wearing the trio's clothes, with one burping.

Significance[edit]

The film satirized the Nazis and the Third Reich and helped publicize the Nazi threat in a period when the United States was still neutral about World War II, and isolationist sentiment was prevalent among the public. During this period, isolationist senators such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye objected to Hollywood films on grounds that they were anti-Nazi propaganda vehicles designed to mobilize the American public for war. According to the Internet Movie Database, You Nazty Spy! was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler. It was released nine months before the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator, which began filming in September 1939.

The Hays code discouraged or prohibited many types of political and satirical messages in films, requiring that the history and prominent people of other countries must be portrayed "fairly"; but short subjects may have been subject to less attention than feature films.

Notes[edit]

  • The title is supposedly a parody of comedian Joe Penner's catchphrase "You Nasty Man!"[1]
  • Moe Howard became the first American actor to portray/imitate Adolf Hitler in this film.
  • Both Moe Howard and Larry Fine cited You Nazty Spy! as their favorite Three Stooges short.[2]
  • You Nazty Spy! was followed by a sequel, I'll Never Heil Again, in 1941. Moronika would also appear in Dizzy Pilots
  • There is a historical pun when Larry says, "If I take Mikey Finlen, I better be rushin'." Curly replies, "Then quit stallin'." This is a reference to Finland, the Soviet Union, and Joseph Stalin, who was the leader of the Soviet Union
  • Larry Fine injured his leg shortly before filming, and can be seen with a limp throughout the short. Fortunately, this was appropriate for his role as a parody of Joseph Goebbels, who walked with a limp due to a club foot.
  • The names of the munitions manufacturers are Pig Latin for "Nix" (a slang term of that era), "No", and "Scram", which in turn were known by the audience as slang in their Pig-Latin form.
  • The parody of the Nazi banner with two snakes in the form of a swastika says "Moronika for Morons" which is a play on the Nazi slogan "Deutschland den Deutschen" (Germany for Germans).
  • The Stooges—all Ashkenazi Jews—occasionally worked a word or phrase of Yiddish into their dialogue. In particular here, the Stooges make several overt Jewish and Yiddish cultural references:
    • The exclamation "Beblach!" used several times in the film is a Yiddish word meaning "beans".
    • "Shalom aleichem!", literally "Peace unto you" is a standard Hebrew greeting meaning "hello, pleased to meet you".
    • Moe: "We'll start a 'Blintzkrieg' (Blitzkrieg)". Curly: "I just love blintzes especially with sour krieg." This is a reference to the Ashkenazi Jewish dish blintzes with sour cream.
    • In Moe's imitation of a Hitler speech, he says "in pupik gehabt haben" (the semi-obscene "I've had it in the bellybutton" in Yiddish). These references to the Nazi leadership and Hitler speaking Yiddish were particularly ironic inside jokes for the Yiddish-speaking Jewish audience.[2]
    • In addition to the "Mata Hari" reference, the name of the female spy Mati Herring is a play on the Yiddish and German name of soused herring, matjeshering.
  • When Mr. Ixnay informs the Stooges of how to overthrow Moronika's monarchy, and suggests that the takeover of Moronika start with a "putsch", it refers to the historical Beer Hall Putsch, the real-world Nazi party attempt at a power grab in the Weimar Republic of 1923. Curly's humorous response to Mr Ixnay's suggestion, to explain it to Moe and Larry, was that "You 'putsch' your beer down, and wait for the pretzels".
  • Curly "Gallstone"'s red book of women's addresses and phone numbers has the rather overt sexual references "Ruby Clutch" "oh, oh oh! G" (bra size) and the unread "Tessie oomph 2 69" which were ignored by the censors. This was a key dig at the attempt to censor The Great Dictator then in production by Charlie Chaplin. (Curly was also noted in his personal life for being a womanizer.)
  • Curly Gallstone says to Mati Herring when he takes her out to shoot her "Let's go shoot the works." Hermann Göring was known to be a morphine addict; this was a slang allusion to the intravenous injection of morphine.
  • A colorized version of this film was released in 2004. It was part of the DVD collection entitled Stooged & Confoosed.[3]
  • You Nazty Spy was also the first Stooges short to bear a new opening title sequence, with the "Torch Lady" on the left-hand corner, standing on a pedestal where each step has printed out "Columbia," "Short Subject" and "Presentation," and the opening titles and credits are inside a box with rounded edges. This format will remain in effect through Booby Dupes.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davidson, Robert (2012). "ThreeStooges.net — you nazty spy!". threestooges.net. Retrieved August 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Lenburg, Jeff; Maurer, Joan Howard; Lenburg, Greg (1994). The Three Stooges scrapbook. New York: Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0946-5. 
  3. ^ The Three Stooges (2004). Stooged & Confoosed (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. ASIN B0002A2WG8. OCLC 56190384. 
  4. ^ "You Nazty Spy" (Part 1) on YouTube

External links[edit]