Three Little Pigskins

Directed by

Raymond McCarey

Produced by

Jules White


Moe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Lucille Ball
Gertie Green
Phyllis Crane
Walter Long
Roger Moore
Dutch Hendrian

Distributed by

Columbia Pictures

Release date(s)

December 8, 1934

Running time

18' 25"

Three Little Pigskins is the fourth short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.


The Stooges are "recruited" by a college to drum up publicity for the college's football team by being dressed up as football players. Meanwhile, the owner of a professional football team, Joe Stacks, has to find three new players for the next game. One of Joe's girlfriends soon meets the Stooges and confuses them for real college football players known as "The Three Horsemen" (a parody of the "Four Horsemen" of Notre Dame fame). The Stooges go back to her house and meet the girl's two friends.

After squirting each other with nightcap bottles, everyone decides to play the game "Blind man's buff." The Stooges are blindfolded and walk around trying to find the girls. Just at that moment, Joe and his two henchmen walk in. They punch out the trio and then chase them around the house. One of the women finally explains that the three strangers are actually "The Three Famous Horsemen," and Joe offers them money to play for him.

Naturally, the trio have not a clue how to play football. Their first game (staged at Hollywood's Gilmore Stadium) turns into a fiasco. Realizing that they have been swindled, the three managers turn their revolvers on the Stooges, hitting them on the back as they attempt to flee.

"...a humdinger of bangs and bruises"Edit

Moe Howard once called Three Little Pigskins "a humdinger of bangs and bruises," as it marked the first time the Stooges flatly refused to perform a stunt. In the film, during the game the boys are stopped by photographers to pose for a picture, when the football players then tackle them. The football players were real college football players, and the Stooges (whose small stature is very apparent in this film) were afraid of being hurt.

Larry Fine, the smallest and lightest of the three, told director Raymond McCarey, "Look, we can't do this scene. We're not stuntmen and if one of those gorillas falls on us, we'll never be able to finish the picture. We've never used stunt doubles before but we certainly need them now." The fact that both Curly and Larry had been hurt a few days earlier filming Three Little Pigskins (Curly broke his leg riding down the dumbwaiter and Larry lost a tooth due to a mistimed punch) reinforced the trio's decision to opt out of the scene.

McCarey assured the Stooges that it was safe, saying "Listen, fellows, you know how to take falls. You've done enough of them. It'll take hours to find doubles for you. Besides, we can't afford them. Don't worry, you won't get hurt."

Moe Howard dryly agreed with McCarey, saying "You're darn right we won't get hurt. We're not doing the scene."

Less than an hour after the exchange, the studio found three stunt doubles made up to look like the Stooges. McCarey yelled "Action" and all hell broke loose. Two of the three were seriously injured with broken limbs, as were all four photographers. The only stunt double not hurt was the one doubling for Curly Howard because of the padding that he wore to resemble the rotund Stooge. Moe Howard later said in his autobiography that "McCarey was speechless and sat in his director's chair with his head in his hands."

Lucille Ball appearancesEdit

Three Little Pigskins also marked one of Lucille Ball's earliest appearances on film - as a blond, as this was before she dyed her hair red. Later in her career, when this short was brought up, Ms. Ball (apparently referring to the seltzer squirting scene) would remark, "The only thing I learned from The Three Stooges was how to duck!" noting "I still got wet!"

Production notesEdit

  • Joe hinted that no one was going to see them play; it would be behind closed doors because there was was not enough money for extras in the stadium.
  • This is the first of several Stooge shorts involving a dumbwaiter, usually involving Curly accidentally destroying the floor of the elevator, causing injury to Larry and Moe. The dumbwaiter would reappear in Nutty But Nice.
  • The football teams listed on the scoreboard are actually two baseball teams in real life, those names belonging to the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs.
  • For the football game, Moe's jersey number is H2O2 (the abbreviation for hydrogen peroxide), Larry's is 1/2, and Curly's is a question mark "?".
  • The football team the Stooges played against was that of Loyola Marymount University.
  • There was no attempt to hide the venue, Gilmore Stadium, as its name on the scoreboard appears in several shots. There is also a shot that includes a billboard for Gilmore Oil, including its trademark symbol, a lion.
  • The title is a multiple pun, derived from The Three Little Pigs, along with "pigskin" being a synonym for a football.
  • This film has Larry speaking pig Latin to Lucille Ball.
  • This film marks one of the few times in which Moe doles out slapstick punishment to a non-Stooge character (he smacks Lulu in the forehead in a heated exchange of blows).
  • A planned concluding scene had the Stooges, years later, telling the story to their sons. It is unknown if this scene was ever filmed, but publicity photos exist of the Stooges, each with a young actor, all made up and dressed to resemble their older counterparts.
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