Production Information
Dutiful But Dumb
Studio: Columbia
Short Number: 54
Release Date: March 21, 1941
Running Time: 16:47


“I can’t find the negative.” “What about the positive?” “I’m positive about the negative, but a little negative about the positive.” “Oh, negative eh?” “No, I’m positive the negative is in the developer.” “Your brains need developing!” – (Larry, Moe and Curly)

Dutiful But Dumb Short Take 

In Dutiful But Dumb, The Stooges are Click, Clack and Cluck, paparazzi-like photographers working for Whack Magazine (“If it’s a good picture, it’s out of Whack!”). After failing in their attempts to get a photo of movie star Percival De Puyster and his new bride, their boss Mr. Wilson (Vernon Dent) fires them. But Wilson changes his mind and instead sends the Stooges to Vulgaria (an obvious parody of Bulgaria) for their next job, knowing full well that taking pictures in Vulgaria is against the law and punishable by death. The inept trio arrives and inadvertently let another photographer who was to be shot escape. The Stooges themselves try to escape but end up running into a Vulgarian prison. As the firing squad is setting up for the Stooges’ execution, Curly requests one last smoke, leading to him pulling out a cigar the length of a hero sandwich. After he finishes it, the firing squad open fire, but the trio run off with their heads inside their shirts.

Three Vulgarian officers watch a demonstration of their country’s new ray gun which can fire other guns remotely. When they hear of the Stooges’ escape, they leave the officer’s office. The Stooges soon arrive in the office and discover the ray gun, which they think is a new camera. But when Moe and Larry pose in front of the gun, Curly manages to shoot their belts and hats off. The Stooges hide as they hear the officers returning – Curly ends up hiding in the radio and destroys the wiring in the process. When the officers try to turn on the radio, Curly pulls out a large harmonica and begins playing, while strumming the remaining wires like a harp and banging inside the radio with xylophone mallets. The officers discover Curly, who jumps out of a window to escape. Moe and Larry trap the officers’ heads in the window while Curly hits the officers in the head with his mallets.

The Stooges are now dressed in the Vulgarian officers’ uniforms and end up in a local cafe, in which Curly pits his wits against a strong drink, and then a defiant oyster in his stew. When the oyster works Curly’s last nerve, he pulls out his gun and fires at it repeatedly. This gets the attention of the guards, who promptly capture the Stooges and carry them off, upside down, on the bayonets of their guns.

Dutiful But Dumb Cast & Crew

Directed byDel Lord
Produced byHugh McCollum
Del Lord
Written byElwood Ullman
StarringMoe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Vernon Dent
Bud Jamison
Fred Kelsey
Eddie Laughton
Chester Conklin
Harry Semels
Marjorie Deanne
Stanley Brown
Lew Davis
CinematographyBenjamin H. Kline
Edited byArt Seid

Dutiful But Dumb Trivia 

  • An adaptation of the oyster soup battle is featured in The Three Stooges video game, where players control Curly who attempts to pick up and eat as many crackers from the oyster soup as possible before the oysters do. Oysters occasionally fire soup at Curly.
  • The gag was later performed by Moe in 1948’s Shivering Sherlocks and Larry who fights the Lobster Gumbo in 1954’s Income Tax Sappy. The gag also appears in the 1945 Abbott and Costello film, Here Come the Co-Eds.
  • The sign on The Boys Vulgarian motorcycle says Focus Magazine, not Whack!
  • Does Curly’s pistol hold sixteen rounds?
  • ‘Viva Vulgaria’ was sung in this short.
  • In Dutiful But Dumb, Bud Jamison was in the Vulgarian Army. What was his rank? (A: A Sergeant)
  • He was the Editor of Whack Magazine in Dutiful But Dumb. (A: Vernon Dent)

Production Notes

  • Filmed from August 1 to 5, 1940, the film title is a play on “Beautiful But Dumb.”