A Pain in the Pullman

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A Pain in the Pullman
Directed by Preston Black
Produced by Jules White
Written by Preston Black
Starring Moe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Bud Jamison
James C. Morton
Eddie Laughton
Loretta Andrews
Phyllis Crane
Wilna Hervey
Cinematography Benjamin H. Kline
Edited by William A. Lyon
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 27, 1936 (1936-06-27) (U.S.)
Running time
Country United States
Language English

A Pain in the Pullman is the 16th short film released by Columbia Pictures in 1936 starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard). The comedians released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.


The Stooges are small-time actors traveling by train to an engagement—and fleeing the landlady for their unpaid rent. They are told to put their pet monkey, Joe, in the baggage car, but are afraid he will get hurt. They sneak Joe onto the Southern Pacific train with them, but Joe gets loose, And they have a hard time getting up to the berth bed by making a lot of noise and managing to awaken and annoy all of the train's passengers, including Mr. Paul Pain (James C. Morton) and Mr. Johnson the stage manager and boss (Bud Jamison), the latter of which routinely bonks his head on the upper berth upon awakening. Ultimately, a terrified Joe pulls the train's emergency cord, abruptly stopping the train in the process. The passengers then forcibly remove the Stooges from the train because they were fired for making a lot of noises and bringing their pet monkey onto the train and they land on three cows and hobble away.

Production notes[edit]

A Pain in the Pullman is the longest Stooge short filmed, running at 19' 46";[1] the shortest is Sappy Bull Fighters, running at 15' 12".[1] Filming was completed between April 29 and May 4, 1936.[2]

This is the first short in which Moe, Larry, and Curly are actually referred to as "The Three Stooges" in the dialogue.

In the scene where Curly is coughing up a piece of crab shell, the actress sitting next to him starts to crack up, a rare occurrence in a Columbia short.

The closing shot of the Stooges leaping over a bush, and landing on a trio of bucking steers was reused at the end of A Ducking They Did Go.[1] The same gag was used in the end of The Ren and Stimpy Show episode "Rubber Nipple Salesmen" (show creator John Kricfalusi was apparently a big fan of the Three Stooges, using a good number of Stooge gags as part of his tenure with Ren and Stimpy; the character of Stimpy is himself based on Larry).

The plot device of performers traveling via rail and enduring sleeping hardships was previously used by Laurel and Hardy in 1929's Berth Marks. Female comedy team ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd also borrowed the plot device for their 1932 short Show Business (directed by Jules White).[1] Gus Schilling and Richard Lane remade the film in 1947 as Training for Trouble.

The name "Johnson" was shouted a total number of 10 times.


Moe Howard had fond memories of filming A Pain in the Pullman. He also recalled his intense dislike for shellfish, and how brother Curly Howard cut the inside of his mouth eating the shells from a Dungeness crab:

...In one sequence, all three of us wound up in the same upper berth. Later, we found ourselves a drawing room, not knowing it was assigned to the star of the show (James C. Morton). There was a lovely table set in the room with all kinds of delicacies.

At one point Curly picked up the hard-shelled Dungeness crab. We, of course, were not supposed to know what it was. Larry thought it was a tarantula, Curly figured it to be a turtle, and I concluded that it must be something to eat or it wouldn't be on the table with crackers and sauce.

As the scene progressed, Curly tried to open the crab shell and bent the tines of his fork. I took the fork from Curly, tossed a napkin on the floor, and asked him to pick it up. When Curly bent over, I hit him on the head with the crab, breaking the shell into a million pieces. Then Curly scooped out some of the meat, tasted it, and made a face. He threw the meat away and proceeded to eat the shell.

I have to tell you, if there's one thing to which I have an aversion, it's shellfish, and I couldn't bring myself—even for a film—to put that claw in my mouth. Preston Black, the director, asked me to just lick the claw, but I couldn't. He finally had the prop man duplicate the claw out of sugar and food coloring and had me nibble on it as though I was enjoying it. I was still very wary during the scene. I was afraid they had coated the real shell with sugar and that that awful claw was underneath. I chewed that claw during the scene, but if you'll notice, I did it very gingerly.

In the meantime, Curly was still chewing on the shell, which was cutting the inside of his mouth. Finally, our star comes back to his room and kicks us out, and we three climb into our upper berth to go to sleep.[3]


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