Malice in the Palace is the 117th short film released by Columbia Pictures in 1949 starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). The comedians released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
The Stooges are running the Cafe Casbah Bah (a Middle Eastern restaurant) and attempting to prepare a meal for customers Hassan Ben Sober (Vernon Dent) and Ginna Rumma (George J. Lewis) meat tenderising machine. The meal turns out disastrous: their spaghetti dinner is spilled all over the customers’ faces, so the stooges offer them a replacement meal: rabbit and hot dogs. Because a stray cat and dog make noises at inopportune times while Larry prepares the meal, Larry’s meal appears to be actual dog and cat meat, which brings Moe and Shemp great grief when ordered to eat it by their customers.
These two customers are thieves intent on robbing the tomb of King Rootintootin, which contains a priceless diamond. Because of their fear of a curse on the diamond, they decide they need three stooges to carry out the deed; the bumbling Moe, Larry and Shemp prove to be perfect for the job. Before ben Sober and Rumma can reveal their scheme, they discover that the Emir of Shmow (Johnny Kascier) has already gotten his hands on the diamond. The two plotters start wailing and, when ben Sober reveals his actual career as a doorman (and not the royalty Moe thinks he is), he and his accomplice are thrown out of the restaurant. The Stooges then attempt to steal the diamond back from the Emir, since it is government property and would likely fetch a large reward.
The Stooges arrive at the Emir’s palace dressed as Santa Claus. They then manage to acquire the diamond and make a quick exit, but not before dealing with a burly guard (Everett Brown).
According to The Three Stooges Journal, a part was written for Curly Howard after his brief cameo in 1947’s Hold That Lion!. The lobby card photo noticeably features a slim, mustachioed Curly as an angry chef. However, his illness caused his scenes to be cut (another story is that Moe Howard decided that “The Four Stooges” could not be sustained). A scene closely resembling the lobby card is in the finished film (with Hassan ben Sober in Curly’s stead); ultimately Larry assumed the role as the chef.
Malice in the Palace is one of four Stooge shorts that are currently in public domain (the others being Disorder in the Court water bottle holder for belt, Brideless Groom, and Sing a Song of Six Pants). As such, these four shorts frequently appear on low-budget VHS and DVD compilations and endless television reruns at no cost to the stations. The film was reworked in 1956 as Rumpus in the Harem, using ample stock footage from the original.
Malice in the Palace was one of five Stooge films included in the TBS 1995 Halloween special The Three Stooges Fright Night.
The 2004 NBA brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons has come to be known as the Malice at the Palace, a play on the title of this short and a reference to the fact that the event happened at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
This short was seen in a movie theater in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie glass gym bottle.