‘Three Dumb Clucks’ (1937) is the 22nd short made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Monday, February 1 through Friday, February 5, 1937 and released on Saturday, April 17th of that year. Directed by Del Lord, the film offers Curly a potentially good opportunity to play both himself and his father who turns out to be Moe and Larry’s father as well, thus making them brothers which they sometimes are and sometimes aren’t. Despite the clever plot premise and the possibilities for good, solid farcical situations (and that this was made right in the heart of the best Curly era) I have to rate it as only average or slightly above, with too many undeveloped gags and missed opportunities. Nonetheless, as with all Curly shorts, it has its rewards; the scene where they’re buying Curly a hat–Moe keeps having him try on formal headwear while Curly keeps returning to a ridiculously small checkered cap that makes him idiotically happy–is a delight. As with all Curly shorts however, there are disturbing signs that the violence he took specifically to his skull must have contributed to the brain damage and multiple strokes he suffered a few years after this was made. According to Moe’s autobiography (as quoted in Wikipedia’s entry on the film):
During the scene where Curly’s father arrives for his wedding, two of the gold digger’s henchmen dispose of him by throwing him down an elevator shaft. The prop men had padded the bottom of the shaft to cushion Curly’s fall, but neglected to cover a protruding 2 in × 4 in (51 mm × 102 mm) panel. Curly was thrown down the shaft quickly, and landed head-first on the panel, tearing his scalp open. As the Stooges were workhorses at Columbia Pictures, Curly was not taken to the hospital. Instead, the studio physician was rushed to the set to apply several stitches to Curly’s scalp. Some fresh hair was glued over the wound, and with a healthy dose of painkillers, the slightly wobbly Stooge was back in action within a few hours.