Termites of 1938

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Termites of 1938
Directed by Del Lord
Produced by Charley Chase
Hugh McCollum
Written by Elwood Ullman
Starring Moe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Bess Flowers
Bud Jamison
Dorothy Granger
Hattie McDaniel
John Ince
Symona Boniface
Cinematography André Barlatier - (French Wikipedia)
Edited by Art Seid
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • January 7, 1938 (1938-01-07) (U.S.)
Running time
Country United States
Language English

Termites of 1938 is the 28th short film released by Columbia Pictures in 1938 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.


A high-society woman named Muriel (Bess Flowers) wants to attend a swanky dinner party thrown by a friend of hers, but her husband, Arthur, decides instead to go on a fishing trip. Rather than showing up stag to the party, Muriel tells her housekeeper to call the Acme Escort Service to bring a few "college boy" escorts. However, the housekeeper accidentally calls the Acme Exterminator Co., run by the Stooges. After testing out a few unorthodox techniques involving catching a mouse, including Curly playing a piccolo and Moe being shot into a wall by a loaded cannon, the phone rings. Moe, his ears still ringing from the cannon, answers and, unwittingly, the boys are hired to be Muriel's escorts to the party.

At the mansion, the guests all arrive, and not long afterwards the Stooges show up in tuxedos in a dilapidated automobile. The Stooges, convinced that they were hired to clear the house of pests, are about to get to work when they hear that dinner is served. Moe tells his pals that they "always feed ya at these high class joints", and the Stooges rush to the dining room to eat. The Stooges astonish the guests with their lack of proper dinner etiquette.

After dinner, the guests enter the main hall where a small group of musicians are playing. The Stooges then take over and begin to perform while actually syncing to music playing from a nearby victrola. The Stooges continue their mock performance until Moe accidentally grabs a saw and cuts the bass in half. Several mice inside begin to scurry about, causing the guests to run away, and the boys decide then and there to get to work. The boys make a shambles of the house.

Larry and Curly drill holes into the wall and spray for termites, not realizing they are actually drilling into the next room. After having no luck finding termites, Larry and Curly try one more time, only to accidentally hit Muriel with the tip of the drill. She screams and jumps, causing her to break through the stairs. It is at this point that Arthur, the owner of the house, arrives home to find Muriel stuck halfway out of the stairs. He finds the Stooges, and chases them out of the mansion, wielding a Gopher Bomb. The boys run to their car and make an escape, but Arthur throws the bomb into the car, causing it to explode and scatter the Stooges all over the street.

Production notes[edit]

Termites of 1938 was filmed on October 19–23, 1937.[1] The film's title is a parody of the film title Gold Diggers of 1937.[2] The film has two musical quirks unusual for Stooge shorts. First, the Three Stooges' opening theme, "Listen to the Mockingbird," is played again when the Stooges first appear onscreen.[2] Second, music derived from Victor Schertzinger's score for the 1933 Columbia feature Cocktail Hour is featured during the dinner scene.[3] This is the result of producer Charley Chase, who liked incidental music from his time at the Hal Roach studio.[2]

Termites of 1938 was remade in 1946 as Society Mugs, starring Shemp Howard and Tom Kennedy.[2]


  1. ^ Pauley, Jim (2012). The Three Stooges Hollywood Filming Locations. Solana Beach, California: Santa Monica Press, LLC. p. 253. ISBN 9781595800701. 
  2. ^ a b c d Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Glendale, California: Comedy III Productions, Inc. pp. 122–123. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4. 
  3. ^ Finegan, Richard (Fall 1996). "Notes on Stooge Film Music and Other Oddities". The Three Stooges Journal. Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania: The Three Stooges Fan Club, Inc. (79): 4. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 

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