‘A Pain In The Pullman’ (1936) was the 16th short film The Three Stooges made for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Wednesday, April 29th through Monday, May 4th, 1936 and was released on Saturday, June 27th of that year. The film belongs to a long and venerable tradition of comedies about show-biz people in crisis on trains, including Laurel and Hardy’s ‘Berth Marks’ (1929), Thelma Todd and ZaZu Pitts ‘Show Business’ (1932), the classic screwball comedy ‘Twentieth Century’ (1934) starring John Barrymore and Carol Lombard and, of course, a large section of ‘Some Like It Hot’ (1959). ‘A Pain In The Pullman’ gives us a trained monkey, a bunch of stolen toupee jokes, a painfully protracted scene in which the three of them attempt to eat crab without understanding what parts are supposed to be edible, a painful series of head bumps on low berth ceilings from Bud Jamison (and others) and a final shot that was reused several times in Stooge-land; the Stooges leaping–or being thrown– over a bush and landing on a trio of bucking steers. (It can be found at the end of ‘A Ducking They Did Go’). The pacing of the film is finally up to speed–the slow and awkward pauses and half-speed comedy routines of the earlier Stooge shorts are all but gone–and the whole enterprise has a very 30s–screwball aura to it. Perhaps it’s a holdover from ‘Twentieth Century’, filmed at the same studio (on the same sets?) just two years earlier. By the way, this film is the first time they refer to themselves as ‘The Three Stooges’. Oh, and check out 16:19–a life-sized ‘Curly Dummy’ is used for a gag in which a large woman tosses Curly into an upper berth. I wonder how much that dummy would be worth to the right collector if it still existed…


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