Production Information
Three Little Pigskins
Studio: Columbia
Short Number: 4
Release Date: December 8, 1934
Running Time: 18:25

“Atwhay areay ouyay oingday onighttay? But you wouldn’t know a thing about that, would you?” “Oh, onay.” – (Larry & Lucille Ball)

Short Take

Moe, Larry and Curly are three out-of-work tramps who are hired to promote a university football team. They’re soon mistaken for the school’s famous star athletes, “The Three Horsemen.” As the star athletes, The Stooges are hired by a gangster to secretly play on his professional team, but of course, the boys know nothing about football and bring their own set of skills to the game.

Cast & Crew

Directed byRaymond McCarey
Produced byJules White
Written byFelix Adler
Griffin Jay
StarringMoe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Lucille Ball
Gertie Green
Phyllis Crane
Walter Long
Roger Moore
Dutch Hendrian
CinematographyHenry Freulich
Edited byJames Sweeney

Three Little Pigskins Trivia

  • The film marked one of the earliest credited appearances for a then blonde-haired Lucille Ball, who played a supporting role as one of the female recruiters and would herself become known for her own work in physical comedy in later years. Later in her career, when this short was brought up, Ball (apparently referring to the seltzer squirting scene) would remark, “The only thing I learned from The Three Stooges was how to duck. I still got wet!”
  • 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.
  • This is also the first of sixteen Stooge shorts using the word “three” in the title.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Phyllis Crane appeared in six other Three Stooges shorts including Men in Black, Pop Goes The Easel, Uncivil Warriors, Hoi Polloi, Ants in The Pantry, and Pain in The Pullman.

Necessary Roughness

  • 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 team consisted of genuine college football players, and the Stooges — with their small stature — 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 chaos ensued. 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.”

Production Notes:

Three Little Pigskins was filmed on October 25–30, 1934.