Here's How The Three Stooges Fought Back Against Hitler

Even people who don't like movies like Casablanca: Humphrey Bogart as the disillusioned Rick Blaine, his altruistic impulses barely beneath the surface of his cynicism and sense of life's betrayals, rising up to take a stand against the vicious Nazi overlords of North Africa. Madeleine LeBeau, breaking into tears as she leads the customers in the casino in singing the French national anthem, drowning out the German officers trying to sing "Die Wacht Am Rhein." Warner Bros. released the movie in 1942. Which was a little tardy to be a slap in the face of Nazy Germany, which had invaded Poland back in 1939, effectively kicking off World War II.

Charlie Chaplin, "The Little Tramp," the man often credited with turning film comedy (first in silents, later in sound) into an art form, is often considered the first filmmaker to truly go after the Third Reich with celluloid satire, via 1940's The Great Dictator, attacking Hitler, Mussolini, fascism, the Nazis, and antisemitism with satire. Like we said: Chaplin. Art.

Curly, Larry, and Moe satirized the Third Reich before anyone else did

But stepping up to the plate before either Bogart or Chaplin were the world's most famous knuckleheads, says The New York Post: The Three Stooges — three Jewish men, former vaudevillians, not generally recognized for their political commentary. Besides being one of the first Hollywood productions to go after the Axis — 1939's Confessions of a Nazi Spy is often considered the first — their two-reel short film "You Nazty Spy!" was released in January 1940, nine months before Chaplin's poke in Hitler's eye. "Nazty" is significant because it came at a time when many Hollywood studios were trying to placate Nazi Germany, even bowing to Germany pressure to sanitize films that might be even slightly critical of the Third Reich. Germany was a powerful market for Hollywood movies, and in the days before the United States entered the war, studio heads feared losing the market if they were perceived as too critical of Hitler and his policies.

They followed up with "I'll Never Heil Again"

The short includes Moe as a Hitler look-alike, including an on-again, off-again toothbrush moustache and uniform. Curly is Field Marshall Gallstone, a direct take on Germany's Field Marshal Hermann Göring with a touch of Mussolini thrown in for good measure; and Larry as the Minister of Propaganda, a skewering of Hitler's Joseph Goebbels. The three sport a national emblem, snakes entwined to form a backwards swastika. Their country, Moronika, has as its slogan, "Moronika for Morons," a direct parody of Nazi Germany's "Germany for Germans." They repeatedly "Heil!" each other. The slapstick is thick and rich in typical Stooge fashion, satirizing and ridiculing the Nazty — er, Nazi — regime for what it truly was.

The story is told that "You Nazty Spy!" was the favorite Stooge short of both Moe Howard and Larry Fine. Some claim it's an urban legend, but there is a consistent rumor out there, per the Fosters news site and others, that Hitler wasn't as thrilled with his depiction, leading him to include Moe, Curly, and Larry on his personal "death list" (though perhaps collectively, not individually, per Mental Floss). No matter what Adolf thought, the Stooges continued with more Nazi bashing in 1941's "I'll Never Heil Again" and 1943's "Higher Than a Kite." Anti-Nazi? Soitenly!