“Three Little Beers’ (1935) is the eleventh two-reel comedy made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Wednesday, October 9th through Saturday, October 12th 1935 and was released on Thursday, November 28th of that year. According to Wikipedia the film features more outdoor locations than any other Stooges film. The bulk of the action takes place on the Rancho Golf Course (it’s still there) on Pico Boulevard and Patricia Avenue in Cheviot Hills, across the street from 20th Century Fox. One of the pleasures of the short is its views of the undeveloped West L.A. horizon. The ‘meta-film’ within ‘Three Little Beers’ is also fun to contemplate; its the story of a relatively small film crew and three knockabout comedians driving onto the local golf course, unloading their stuff and spending a couple of days shooting a two-reeler in the L.A. pre-smog haze. There’s one gag (the washing machine bit) that for some reason was filmed on a stage with a bad painted backdrop—-perhaps time ran out on the day and the decision was made to pick it up back at the studio?
The pacing of the earliest Stooge shorts tends to be a bit stately–one might even say lumbering. (We’ll get to ‘Restless Knights’ one day soon–an almost impossible watch). Yet by this, their eleventh film, things seems to be picking up and the brisk assuredness of the direction (by Del Lord) is more in evidence than in prior shorts. The terrific climax–the rolling barrels of beer that chase the Stooges down a steep Los Angeles street–was filmed off of Echo Park Avenue and very cleverly combines actual stunts involving the Stooges running from the barrels, individual shots isolating the barrels and the Stooges from each other, and process work (the most obvious moment being the gag where Moe winds up running on top of one of the barrels). I have to assume this sequence was elaborately sketched out in order to maximize the time given to each of the components that make up the scene. Wouldn’t it be great to find the official Columbia Pictures sketch artists book showing the exact shot breakdown for this sequence? You think that’s a little geeky? Well then, you don’t know this particular Stooge-Geek. I have the assistant director daily reports for several Stooge comedies and they make excellent on-the-toilet reading…