Production Information
Studio: ColumbiaShort Number: 76
Release Date: December 5, 1946
Running Time: 17:51

“Eenie, Meenie, Minee, Moe. See, you can’t go wrong with Moe! Heh, heh.” “Thanks (slap). Get Busy!”
(Curly and Moe)

Short Take 

Curly, Moe, and Larry, NYC garbage barge sailors, wash ashore on an island stuck in the 17th century, and ruled by a tyrannical Governor. With the help of the lovely Rita Yolanda, and using the ruse of a nearsighted Maharajah and his entourage, they go in search of a pirate named Black Louie who will ferry them to the mainland. Unfortunately, the Governor and Louie are well-acquainted, and the pirate forces the Stooges to engage in a deadly knife-throwing contest to purchase their freedom from the island.

Cast & Crew

Directed byEdward Bernds
Produced byHugh McCollum
Written byClyde Bruckman
StarringMoe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Vernon Dent
Christine McIntyre
Robert Stevens
Dorothy DeHaven
Joe Palma
Cy Schindell
Al Thompson
CinematographyPhilip Tannura
Edited byPaul Borofsky


  • This is the 12th of 16 Stooge shorts with the word “three” in the title. The Stooges had previously performed the “Maharaja” routine in the 1941 film Time Out for Rhythm. They would resurrect the routine with Curly-Joe DeRita as the third stooge for the 1963 theatrical feature The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze and on The Steve Allen Show. Moe Howard also later performed a variation of the routine, with Mike Douglas and Soupy Sales, in November 1973 television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show.
  • Canarsie, Brooklyn, Bay Meadows, Flatbush, Brooklyn, and the isles of Coney Island and Long Island are references to New York-based localities where brothers Moe, Curly, and Shemp Howard spent their childhood. It is all the more appropriate, as the Stooges are sailors shipwrecked off of a New York City garbage scow.

Production Notes

  • Three Little Pirates was filmed on April 15–18, 1946.
  • 42-year-old Curly Howard had suffered a series of minor strokes. As a result of his illness, Curly’s performances had been marred by slurred speech and slower timing. Much of the action in previous films (Three Loan WolvesG.I. Wanna Home) had been shifted away from the ailing Stooge and placed in the hands of co-stars Moe and Larry.Curly, however, was on his game during the filming of Three Little Pirates. Though still not 100 percent himself, the comedian performed the memorable “Maharaja” routine with Moe almost flawlessly. He continued to display his formidable gift for physical comedy; for example, in one shot, he briefly assumes a reclining position while seated on a chair. Director Edward Bernds recalled the progression of Curly’s decline through each film in the order they were made (vs. released):
    “I guess I should be thankful that Curly was in one of his ‘up’ periods, because it was strange the way he went up and down. He was down for A Bird in the Head and The Three Troubledoers, he was up for Micro-Phoniesway down for Monkey Businessmen. In Three Little Pirates, he was terrific. It was the last flash of the old Curly.”