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The Three Stooges





Columbia, 1943.  Directed by Del Lord.  Camera:  John Stumar.  With Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Stanley Blystone, Lew Kelly, Symona Boniface, Stanley Brown, Heinie Conklin, William Kelly, Theodore Lorch, Charles Middleton, Shirley Patterson, Helen Servis.

Short opens in the office of J.O. Dunkfeather, special investigator.  Eyeing a skull, the sleuth tells a reporter, "Just as I suspected, she had dandruff, which proves it was suicide."  Dunkfeather recounts a case involving three stooges, "jap" spies, and the invention of a "death ray machine that will destroy millions."

The Stooges, not having much luck selling the Miracle Reducing Machine, go door-to-door until they get to the home of Graves, the inventor.  They're hired as caretakers getting $100 a month room and board.  "I want you to look out for spies—especially jap spies," says Graves.  "You're not a jap, are you?" he asks Curley, who's indignant.  Sure enough, the spies show up, dressed as goblins.

When The Stooges lampooned the Nazis, their targets were always veiled, but in this short and several others that go after, the Japanese—with whom the United States was also at war when the short was filmed—the attack is squarely ethnic and racist, with the Japanese always depicted as long-toothed morons.  Today, these shorts are a bit uncomfortable to watch.

The Three Stooges
An Illustrated History,
by Michael Fleming
Broadway Books 1999