The Stoogepedia Wiki
Three Little Pirates
Three Little Pirates title.jpg

Release Date

December 5, 1946

Directed by

Edward Bernds

Written by

Clyde Bruckman

Produced by

Hugh McCollum

Preceded by

Rhythm and Weep

Followed by

Half-Wits Holiday

Three Little Pirates is the 96th short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.



The year is 1642, and the Stooges are garbage scow sailors stranded on Dead Man's Island. At first, the governor finds it hard to believe that the trio are actually sailors due to their modern uniforms, but changes his mind once Curly starts flirting ("Hiya, babe!") with his fiancée, Rita. The governor throws the Stooges in jail, and sentences them to death via burning at the stake.

Lucky for the Stooges, Rita has no interest in marrying the ruthless colonial governor and helps the boys escape by exposing some hidden tools. She then directs them to drill their way specifically through the west wall in order to escape safely. Unfortunately, the Stooges argue incessantly, choose the wrong wall, and land right right back in their cell.

Rita quickly suggests the boys disguise themselves as "wayfarers from a strange land" bringing priceless gifts. Curly is the great, nearsighted Maharaja of Canarsie who has domains on the isles of Coney and Long. Moe is the Gin of Rummy, and Larry is an accomplice. Moe and Curly exchange in conversations consisting of doublespeak and gibberish and offer the governor a raspberry lollipop, which he mistakes as a ruby as large as a turkey's egg. Moe dubs it the "Ruby de Lollipopskia". Next is a fountain pen that the governor mistakes as a tusk from a black walrus. The governor is delighted with these gifts, and requests that the Maharaja bring him some fair damsels. Honoring his request, the Stooges escape quickly, not wasting a moment. However, the governor's secretary reveals the Stooges' true identities, and the governor is livid. Once he learns they are headed to the cutthroat pirate Black Louie's, however, he enlists the scoundrel's help to kill the escaped sailor Stooges.

The Stooges meet Black Louie at a saloon, and engage in a game of target practice. They enlist a reluctant Larry as the live target, and begin the knife-throwing. In the interim, Rita quietly makes her presence known to the boys, and alerts them of the governor's plan. They realize they must flee, but Curly's awkward knife throwing (thanks to his glasses containing lenses as thick as soda bottles) puts Black Louie on the defense. The fight breaks out in the saloon, with the Stooges winning out. Moe proclaims himself "Emperor Moe" of Deadman's Island-until a knockout hammer on a pinball machine bonks him into the "Maharaja Routine"-and the Stoogers and Rita escape.


  • Three Little Pirates was filmed after 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 Wolves, G.I. Wanna Home) had been shifted away from the ailing Stooge and placed in the hands of co-stars Moe Howard and Larry Fine.
  • However, Curly was on his game during the filming of Three Little Pirates. Though still not 100% 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-Phonies, way down for Monkey Businessmen. In Three Little Pirates, he was terrific. It was the last flash of the old Curly."
  • It has been said that the Stooge releases of 1946 were the worst batch since they joined Columbia Pictures. Much of this can be attributed to Curly's languid performances. In retrospect, Three Little Pirates turned out to be the only real standout of the year.



Three Little Pirates (1946)

The Three Stooges
Woman Haters I Punch Drunks I Men in Black I Three Little Pigskins I Horses' Collars I Restless Knights I Pop Goes the Easel I Uncivil Warriors I Pardon My Scotch I Hoi Polloi I Three Little Beers I Ants in the Pantry I Movie Maniacs I Half Shot Shooters I Disorder in the Court I A Pain in the Pullman I False Alarms I Whoops, I'm an Indian! I Slippery Silks I Grips, Grunts and Groans I Dizzy Doctors I Three Dumb Clucks I Back to the Woods I Goofs and Saddles I Cash and Carry I Playing the Ponies I The Sitter Downers I Termites of 1938 I Wee Wee Monsieur I Tassels in the Air I Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb I Violent Is the Word for Curly I Three Missing Links I Mutts to You I Flat Foot Stooges I Three Little Sew and Sews I We Want Our Mummy I A Ducking They Did Go I Yes, We Have No Bonanza I Saved By the Belle I Calling All Curs I Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise I Three Sappy People I You Nazty Spy! I Rockin' Thru the Rockies I A Plumbing We Will Go I Nutty But Nice I How High Is Up? I From Nurse to Worse I No Census, No Feeling I Cookoo Cavaliers I Boobs in Arms I So Long Mr. Chumps I Dutiful But Dumb I All the World's a Stooge I I'll Never Heil Again I An Ache in Every Stake I In the Sweet Pie and Pie I Some More of Samoa I Loco Boy Makes Good I Cactus Makes Perfect I What's the Matador? I Matri-Phony I Three Smart Saps I Even as IOU I Sock-a-Bye Baby I They Stooge to Conga I Dizzy Detectives I Spook Louder I Back From the Front I Three Little Twirps I Higher Than a Kite I I Can Hardly Wait I Dizzy Pilots I Phony Express I A Gem of a Jam I Crash Goes the Hash I Busy Buddies I The Yoke's On Me I Idle Roomers I Gents Without Cents I No Dough Boys I Three Pests in a Mess I Booby Dupes I Idiots Deluxe I If a Body Meets a Body I Micro-Phonies I Beer Barrel Polecats I A Bird in the Head I Uncivil War Birds I The Three Troubledoers I Monkey Businessmen I Three Loan Wolves I G.I. Wanna Home I Rhythm and Weep I Three Little Pirates I Half-Wits Holiday I Fright Night I Out West I Hold That Lion! I Brideless Groom I Sing a Song of Six Pants I All Gummed Up I Shivering Sherlocks I Pardon My Clutch I Squareheads of the Round Table I Fiddlers Three I The Hot Scots I Heavenly Daze I I'm a Monkey's Uncle I Mummy's Dummies I Crime on Their Hands I The Ghost Talks I Who Done It? I Hokus Pokus I Fuelin' Around I Malice in the Palace I Vagabond Loafers I Dunked in the Deep I Punchy Cowpunchers I Hugs and Mugs I Dopey Dicks I Love at First Bite I Self-Made Maids I Three Hams on Rye I Studio Stoops I Slaphappy Sleuths I A Snitch in Time I Three Arabian Nuts I Baby Sitters Jitters I Don't Throw That Knife I Scrambled Brains I Merry Mavericks I The Tooth Will Out I Hula-La-La I Pest Man Wins I A Missed Fortune I Listen, Judge I Corny Casanovas I He Cooked His Goose I Gents in a Jam I Three Dark Horses I Cuckoo on a Choo Choo I Up in Daisy's Penthouse I Booty and the Beast I Loose Loot I Tricky Dicks I Spooks! I Pardon My Backfire I Rip, Sew and Stitch I Bubble Trouble I Goof on the Roof I Income Tax Sappy I Musty Musketeers I Pals and Gals I Knutzy Knights I Shot in the Frontier I Scotched in Scotland I Fling in the Ring I Of Cash and Hash I Gypped in the Penthouse I Bedlam in Paradise I Stone Age Romeos I Wham-Bam-Slam! I Hot Ice I Blunder Boys I Husbands Beware I Creeps I Flagpole Jitters I For Crimin' Out Loud I Rumpus in the Harem I Hot Stuff I Scheming Schemers I Commotion on the Ocean I Hoofs and Goofs I Muscle Up a Little Closer I A Merry Mix Up I Space Ship Sappy I Guns a Poppin! I Horsing Around I Rusty Romeos I Outer Space Jitters I Quiz Whizz I Fifi Blows Her Top I Pies and Guys I Sweet and Hot I Flying Saucer Daffy I Oil's Well That Ends Well I Triple Crossed I Sappy Bull Fighters