Production Information
Title: You Nazty Spy!Studio: ColumbiaShort Number: 44
Release Date: January 19, 1940
Running Time: 17:59

“We must lend our neighbors a helping hand! We must lend them two helping hands, and help ourselves to our neighbors!

Short Take

Set in the country of Moronica, three men plot to overthrow their king and appoint a dictator. Their choice is a paperhanger named Moe Hailstone. With Curly as his Field Marshal and Larry as his Minister of Propaganda, the boys take control of the country. The citizens are unhappy and drive Hailstone out of power.

You Nazty Spy! satirized the Nazis and the Third Reich and helped publicize the Nazi threat in a period when the United States was still neutral about World War II, and the isolationist sentiment was prevalent among the public. During this period, isolationist senators such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye objected to Hollywood films on grounds that they were anti-Nazi propaganda vehicles designed to mobilize the American public for war. You Nazty Spy! was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler. It was released nine months before the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator, which began filming in September 1939. You Nazty Spy! was filmed on December 5-9, 1939.

The Hays code discouraged or prohibited many types of political and satirical messages in films, requiring that the history and prominent people of other countries must be portrayed “fairly.” Short films such as those released by The Three Stooges were subject to less attention than feature films.

Cast & Crew

Directed byJules White
Produced byJules White
Written byFelix Adler
Clyde Bruckman
StarringMoe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Richard Fiske
Lorna Gray
Dick Curtis
Don Beddoe
Floreine Dickson
Little Billy
John Tyrrell
Bert Young
Joe Murphy
Eddie Laughton
Al Thompson

You Nazty Spy! Trivia

  • The title is a parody of comedian Joe Penner’s catchphrase “You Nasty Man!”
  • Moe Howard, as “Moe Hailstone”, became the first American actor to portray/imitate Adolf Hitler in a released film, although Chaplin’s portrayal was shot before the Stooges’ film went into production.
  • Both Moe Howard and Larry Fine cited You Nazty Spy! as their favorite Three Stooges short.
  • You Nazty Spy! was followed by a sequel, I’ll Never Heil Again, in 1941.
  • Moronika would also appear in Dizzy Pilots (1943).
  • The parody of the Nazi banner with two snakes in the form of a swastika is captioned with the phrase “Moronika for Morons” which is a play on the Nazi slogan “Deutschland den Deutschen” (Germany for Germans).
  • The Boys occasionally worked a word or phrase of Yiddish into their dialogue. In particular, here, The Stooges make several overt Jewish and Yiddish cultural references:
    • The exclamation “Beblach!” used several times in the film is a Yiddish word meaning “beans.”
    • “Shalom aleichem!”, literally “Peace unto you” is a standard Hebrew greeting meaning “hello, pleased to meet you”.
    • In Moe’s imitation of a Hitler speech, he says “in pupik gehabt haben” (the semi-obscene “I’ve had it in the bellybutton” in Yiddish). These references to the Nazi leadership and Hitler speaking Yiddish were particularly ironic inside jokes for the Yiddish-speaking Jewish audience.
  • In a gag when Moe tries to shush Larry and Curly at a table with Mattie Herring, The Boys make train noises until a conductor appears and says, “All out for Syracuse!” When Larry leaves and Mattie Herring asks where’s he going, Moe replies, “The boy’s from Syracuse” – a reference to the musical The Boys from Syracuse (1938).
  • A colorized version of this film was released in 2004. It was part of the DVD collection entitled Stooged & Confoosed.
  • A young Bert Young (Paulie from the Rocky franchise) appears as a Stormtrooper.

Production Notes

  • You Nazty Spy! filmed from December 5, 1939, to December 9, 1939.
  • You Nazty Spy was also the first Stooges short to bear a new opening title sequence, with the Columbia logo’s torch-bearing woman on the left-hand corner, standing on a pedestal where each step has printed out “Columbia,” “Short Subject” and “Presentation,” and the opening titles and credits are inside a box with rounded edges. This format will remain in effect through Booby Dupes.