I'll Never Heil Again is the 56th 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 short was the sequel Three Stooges 1940 short You Nazty Spy!. It begins, unlike You Nazty Spy!, with Moe Hailstone (Moe Howard) firmly ensconced as the Hitler-like dictator of Moronica. Curly Howard plays Field Marshal Herring (a parody of Hermann Göring), who has so many medals that he wears them on both the front and back of his coat. Larry Fine plays Minister of Propaganda Pebble (a combination parody of Joseph Goebbels and to some extent also Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop).
At the estate of King Herman the 6⅞ (a parody of ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II), the deposed king of Moronica, war profiteers Ixnay (Vernon Dent), Amscray (Lynton Brent) and Umpchay (previously Onay) (Bud Jamison) have decided that they have had enough of Moe Hailstone, the fascist dictator they put in power, and want to help Herman retake the throne. To this end, he sends his daughter, the princess Gilda (Mary Ainslee) to try and assassinate Hailstone using an explosive pool ball strategically positioned in Hailstone's billiard table. The fictitious country of Moronica (or at least Moe Hailstone) seems to be familiar with a pool game in which the 13 ball is placed at the head of the rack during set up.
Dictator Moe Hailstone of Moronica enjoys a shave, and fights Field Marshal Herring (Curly) and Minister of Propaganda (Larry) for a turkey (a parody of Hitler possibly wanting control in Turkey. Larry parodies the attempts to control Greece by saying, "I'll wipe out grease"). The winner of that battle is a picture of Napoleon who grabs the bird from the bewildered Stooges.
Gilda enters, and shows the Stooges a glimpse through a telescope of all three of them on a spit roasting in Hell and starts to place in Hailstone's mind the idea that his allies, the "Axel" partners, are plotting against him. After doing this she replaces the 13 ball on Hailstone's pool table with an exploding No. 13 ball and flees as Hailstone begins a pool game with his partners. Throughout the game, the cue ball inexplicably defies the laws of physics, avoiding the exploding ball by swerving around it and finally jumping over it, colliding with Herring's head.
Later, the Axel partners arrive for a meeting. The partners consist of Chiselini (Cy Schindell; a parody of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini -- a "chiseler" is a cheater or swindler), the Bey of Rum (Jack "Tiny" Lipson); an unnamed Japanese delegate (Duncan Renaldo; a parody of Japanese emperor Hirohito); and an unnamed Russian delegate (Don Barclay). As the meeting breaks into chaos following Hailstone's declaration that the world belongs to him, the Stooges go into action on the other delegates and each other. Finally, with all the other Axels delegates defeated, Hailstone orders Herring to surrender the globe they had fought over. Herring refuses and smashes it over Hailstone's head, sending him into a tantrum. Herring, finally having enough of Hailstone's patronizing antics, yells at Hailstone as he grabs the exploding ball and throws it against the floor in frustration, blowing up the meeting room. Herman regains his throne and the trio's heads are shown mounted on a wall.
This short marks one of the few moments where one of the Stooges breaks the fourth wall. In one scene, Moe Hailstone is ranting in mock German and Larry is responding in an equally mock Southern accent. Curly, caught in the middle, turns to the camera and says to the audience "...they're NUTS!"
While filming, devoted family man Moe rushed from the set to his daughter's birthday party in full costume. This caused a few calls to the LAPD. Bystanders reported at what they perceived to be Hitler running red lights in Hollywood.
A colorized version of this film was released in 2007. It was part of the DVD collection entitled "Hapless Half-Wits."
The major "Axel" partners shown in the conference room sequence are parodies of the major Axis powers of the time—with one and a half exceptions.
The "Bey of Rum" character's presence in the comedy short may refer to the historical Sultanate of Rûm, which occupied much of Asia Minor for nearly three centuries in the Middle Ages. Turkey, which he represents, was never a member of the Axis, and remained carefully neutral throughout much of World War II. But Turkey was the center of the Ottoman Empire, which was a major part of the Central Powers in World War I, as was the German Empire.
The Soviet Union may have easily been considered a "silent partner" of the Axis. It was never a signatory to the Pact of Steel (the original "Axis Pact"), and obviously inimical to the Anti-Comintern Pact. Yet its relationships with Nazi Germany were – at least at the surface – if anything more friendly than either country's with the US. The USSR had joined Germany's September 1, 1939 invasion of Poland in mid-September, and the countries had treaties of economic assistance and cooperated in military research. However, less than two weeks after I'll Never Heil Again was released, their relationship changed drastically when Germany declared war on the USSR.
I'll Never Heil Again premiered in Argentina (as with the rest of the South American countries) in February 1942, but it became banned during the governments of Juan Perón (1945–1955, 1973–1974).
King Herman the 6⅞ is a caricature of Kaiser Wilhelm II in his appearance and especially his hobby of chopping wood. "I'll Never Heil Again" was released 5 weeks and 2 days after the real Wilhelm II died in exile.
The title of the short parodies the song title "I'll Never Smile Again", written by Ruth Lowe in 1940.
- Solomon, Jon. (2002) The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion, p. 193; Comedy III Productions, Inc., ISBN 0-9711868-0-4