You Nazty Spy!
is the 44th short subject
starring American slapstick
comedy team the Three Stooges
. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures
In the fictional country of Moronica, three munitions
manufacturers—Messrs. Ixnay (Richard Fiske
), Ohnay (Dick Curtis
) and Amscray (Don Beddoe
)—decide their country is in need of a change. They decide to implement a dictatorship, oust the king, and go about finding some guinea pigs
. Ixnay volunteers the three wallpaper hangers simultaneously working in his dining room, the Stooges.
Ixnay presents Moe Hailstone, Curly Gallstone, and Larry Pebble with the offer to run Moronica. Moe is instituted as the leader (the Adolf Hitler role), with Curly as Field Marshal (spoofing Hermann Göring), and Larry as Minister of Propaganda (an amalgam of Joseph Goebbels and Joachim von Ribbentrop). After his takeover, Hailstone proceeds to
give a speech to the masses, cueing Larry to display signs reading APPLAUSE, CHEERS and even HISS.
However, the daughter (Lorna Gray) of the overthrown king pays Hailstone a visit, going by the name Mattie Herring (a spoof of World War I spy Mata Hari). The Stooges suspect she is a spy, and attempt to execute her. She escapes, and gathers a huge mob to storm Hailstone's palace. The trio quickly abdicate, and flee into a lion's den.
You Nazty Spy!
is significant because it 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 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. According to the Internet Movie Database
, You Nazty Spy!
was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler. It was released nine months before the more famous Charlie Chaplin
film The Great Dictator
. Heavy publicity in Hollywood about Chaplin's planned film began to circulate in mid-1939, and may have helped serve as inspiration for the film. Much like the case of Chaplin, Moe Howard's physical resemblance to Hitler (when in makeup) was probably a key source of inspiration.
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"; but short subjects may have been subject to less attention than feature films.
Another notable feature of You Nazty Spy! was the fact that it was implying business interests were behind the Nazi rise to power. This is probably reflective of a common belief among some Americans about the Nazis at the time.
- Moe Howard became the first American actor to portray/imitate Adolf Hitler in this film. Curly also portrays Benito Mussolini.
- 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.
- Larry Fine injured his leg shortly before filming, and can be seen with a limp throughout the short. Interestingly, Joseph Goebbels, who Fine was mocking, did in fact walk with a limp due to a club foot.
- The exclamation "Beblach!" used several times in the film is a Yiddish word meaning "beans" (The Stooges, all of the Jewish faith, occasionally worked a word or phrase of Yiddish into their dialogue.)
- A colorized version of this film was released in 2004. It was part of the DVD collection entitled " Stooged & Confoosed"
- Moe Howard and the Three Stooges; by Moe Howard , (Citadel Press, 1977).
- The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion; by Jon Solomon , (Comedy III Productions, Inc., 2002).
- The Three Stooges Scrapbook; by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer, Greg Lenburg (Citadel Press, 1994).
- The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons; by Michael Fleming (Broadway Publishing, 2002).
- One Fine Stooge: A Frizzy Life in Pictures; by Steve Cox and Jim Terry , (Cumberland House Publishing, 2006).