Production Information
Beer Barrel Polecats
Studio: Columbia
Short Number: 88
Release Date: January 10, 1946
Running Time: 17:21

“We all put the yeast in!”
(Moe, Larry, and Curly)

Short Take

Unable to purchase a bottle of beer due to Prohibition (despite it being repealed 13 years ago), the Stooges opt to brew some of the stuff themselves. The recipe that they use calls for three small cubes of yeast. A mix-up with the telephone causes each Stooge to think he is the one to put in the yeast. Nine cubes end up in the tub being used to make the beer. The yeast continuously expands causing them to pour the beer into every container they can find until Curly brings in the bathtub. They successfully bottle their brew only to leave the bottles too close to an open flame. Many of the bottles explode sending corks and suds all over the kitchen.

Unfortunately, Curly ends up selling a bottle at the black market price to a detective, landing the trio in jail. They were due to serve a short amount of time, but Curly tries to smuggle a barrel of beer in jail under his overcoat. The barrel explodes under the heat of lights while the trio has their mugshots taken.

While in prison, the Stooges begin to plot their escape and end up destroying the saws being used to whittle down the iron bars in their cell. A few days later, the Stooges have a run-in with a fellow convict (Joe Palma), leading them to knock the warden (Vernon Dent) out cold, and landing them on the rock pile. While hammering away, the boys stumble on an old friend also in the clink, Percy Pomeroy (Eddie Laughton), and work together to flee the prison. They are ultimately captured and sent to solitary confinement.

After nearly half a century later, the graying trio are finally released as senior citizens, in which Curly quips upon leaving “You know what I’m-a gonna do? I’m gonna get myself a tall, big, beautiful bottle of beer!” Moe and Larry become irate and throw Curly back into the jail, leaving him there.

Cast & Crew

Directed byJules White
Produced byJules White
Written byGilbert Pratt
StarringMoe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Vernon Dent
Robert Williams
Eddie Laughton
Joe Palma
CinematographyGeorge F. Kelley
Edited byCharles Hochberg

Beer Barrel Polecats Trivia

  • When the Stooges drop their iron balls chained to their legs, the NBC Chimes are heard, a gag recycled from the team’s 1937 short Back to the Woods and used in 11 other shorts. 
  • The last short to feature supporting actor Eddie Laughton. He was born the same year as Curly, and died the same year as Curly!
  • The Burnt toast and a rotten egg gag is used in Beer Barrel Polecats, Punch Drunks, and Three Sappy People.
  • Beer making and criminal sequences are key in this film short as they are the only original bits filmed.
  • The famous line “We all put the yeast in,” comes from the sequence where we see each Stooge put yeast in the beer brew culminating in an explosion of the hooch with the over-heated beer bottles.

Production Notes

  • Beer Barrel Polecats was filmed over two days on April 25-26, 1945, several months after Curly suffered a minor stroke.
  • There are two background stories that affect the production of Beer Barrel Polecats. Parts of both are most likely true.
    • The first is Curly’s declining health. His ability to perform was inconsistent and unpredictable and unable to endure the four-day shooting schedule, so director Jules White used stock footage as part of the film. Where Curly was called upon to perform physical comedy, his body did not respond with its accustomed flexibility, nor could he face or voice produce the gestures and sounds that made him unique. White masks Curly’s condition by inserting six minutes of prison-break footage from So Long Mr. Chumps and In The Sweet Pie and Pie.
    • The second story surrounding production is a week prior to the April 1945 production, comedian Harold Lloyd sued Universal Studios and Clyde Bruckman for use of his copyrighted material in one of their features. Lloyd also made it known to Columbia that he planned to file suit against them (and Bruckman) at a later date for use of his material in The Stooges’ Loco Boy Makes Good (1942). Gilbert Pratt’s original script for Beer Barrel Polecats (1946) reworked scenes from Laurel & Hardy’s Pardon Us (1931), including a virtual word-for-word copy of the prison classroom scene. In reaction to Mr. Lloyd’s lawsuit, the Polecats script (and other shorts department scripts in pre-production) was overhauled at the last-minute. Polecats deleted the scenes that copied from Pardon Us, and stock footage from earlier Stooges comedies featuring prison-themed scenes was inserted; So Long Mr. Chumps and In The Sweet Pie and Pie.