‘Three Little Pirates’ (1946) was the 96th short comedy made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed from Monday, April 15th through Thursday, April 18th, 1946 and was released on Thursday, December 5th of that year (the 339th day of the Gregorian Calendar). In spite of Curly’s all-to-obvious illness (due to the series of strokes he’d suffered over the previous two years) it’s a top-flight Stooge effort all around, and certainly the last of the great Curly shorts. Under Edward Bernds always polished direction, the Stooges fire on all cylinders. Clyde Bruckman’s perfect three-act script is tightly woven and includes one of the Stooges best routines, the ‘Maha–Ahah’ wherein Curly pretends to be a Maharaja and speaks double talk with Moe. (It was first seen in a feature the Stooges appeared in in 1941 called ‘Time Out For Rhythm’). The prison break sequence which comprises the first act contains many painful to watch head injuries for both Curly and Larry–I sure as hell hope they used rubber props for those head-bangers though given Curly’s clear case of traumatic brain injury I fear they did not. The second act is the ‘Maharaha’ routine and although Curly’s speech is slow and sometimes slurred he remains a top-flight physical comedian. (The fall he takes which lands him in a head-stand at 9:40 is all him, not a double). Curly’s unfortunate decline in the last two years of his tenure with the Stooges is recounted by director Bernds in his memoir.

“I guess I should be thankful that Curly was in one of his ‘up’ periods, because it was strange the way he went up and down. He was down for A Bird in the Head and The Three Troubledoers, he was up for Micro-Phoniesway down for Monkey Businessmen. In Three Little Pirates, he was terrific. It was the last flash of the old Curly.”


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