The Three Stooges signed on to appear in two-reel comedy short subjects for Columbia Pictures. In Moe’s autobiography, he said they each got $600 per week on a one-year contract with a renewable option; in the Ted Okuda–Edward Watz book The Columbia Comedy Shorts, the Stooges are said to have gotten $1,000 between them for their first Columbia effort, Woman Haters, and then signed a term contract for $7,500 per film, to be divided among the trio. According to Moe, Columbia Pictures studio head Harry Cohn would always wait until the last minute to renew the contract. The Stooges, too worried about keeping their jobs in an increasingly declining short-subject market, would not dare ask for a raise during the 23 years they worked for Cohn. The Stooges appeared in 190 film shorts and five features under the “original” contract with Columbia. Del Lord directed more than three dozen Three Stooges shorts. Jules White directed dozens more, and his brother Jack White directed several under the pseudonym “Preston Black”. (In the early shorts, Curly was billed as “Curley”, and also as “Jerry Howard” when receiving a writing credit.)
According to a published report, Moe, Larry, and director Jules White considered their best film to be You Nazty Spy!. This 18-minute short subject starring Moe as “Moe Hailstone”, an Adolf Hitler-like character satirized the Nazis in a period when America was still neutral and isolationist about WWII. You Nazty Spy! was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler, released in January, 1940, nine months before Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Reportedly this film caused the Stooges to be placed on Hitler’s so-called “death list” because of its anti-Nazi stance. Chaplin, along with Jack Benny, would also be on this list due to their later anti-Nazi films.