The Stooges are inept electricians who manage to electrocute themselves as well as their boss, "Smilin'" Sam McGann (Fred Kelsey). After predictably getting fired from their job, Curly suggests that the boys take "a nice, long rest." They spot an ad for Mallard's Rest Home, and embark on their R&R trip.
Upon arrival, the boys are introduced to Dr. Mallard (Kenneth MacDonald, in his debut appearance with the Stooges) who prescribes a detailed, regimented schedule of exercise, only to be fed a "nice bowl of milk" for breakfast and lunch. Mallard then assigns two nurses to train the Stooges, which sends the boys head over heels into fits of love — until the nurses turn out to be men (Cy Schindell and Wade Crosby).
While the Stooges are vigorously training in the gym the following day, Moe and Larry attempt to help Curly flex his muscles by removing the individual weights, pound by pound. The weights land on the nurses' heads, knocking them cold. In their daze, the two spill the beans that Mallard is a quack, and the Stooges realize that the phony doctor is out to swindle the trio from their hard-earned money. In their efforts to escape, Curly bumps into a wealthy man with a bad foot (Snub Pollard), and is handsomely rewarded with a $1,000 for his "efforts." When Curly suggests using the money to take "a nice, long rest," Moe and Larry promptly clobber him.
Monkey Businessmen was shot in January 1946, the first entry to be filmed after the Stooges' annual seven-month production hiatus. 42-year-old Curly Howard had suffered a series of minor strokes in early 1945, and his performances had become marred by slurred speech and slower timing. Novice director Edward Bernds had to deal with Curly's condition while simultaneously learning the ropes of directing. Understandably, Bernds hoped the hiatus would allow Curly enough time to recover from the effects of his strokes and resume his abilities as the lead Stooge.
Instead, directing Monkey Businessmen was a nightmare. Curly was in such bad shape that brother Moe Howard had to coach Curly on his lines. Though most of the coaching never made its way onscreen, Moe can be seen nudging Curly in Dr. Mallard's office, reminding him to say his line, "I know: a nice big bowl of milk!"
Bernds painfully remembered the grueling filming process: A very ill Curly struggles through Monkey Businessmen. Moe had to coach his brother line-by-line to get through filming.
- “ ...it was strange the way he (Curly) went up and down. In the order I shot the pictures, not in the order they were released, he was down for A Bird in the Head and The Three Troubledoers, he was up for Micro-Phonies, way down for Monkey Businessmen, and then up again, for the last time, in Three Little Pirates. In Monkey Businessmen, he (Curly) was at his worst. Moe coached him the way one would a child, getting him to repeat each line after him. We had to shoot Curly repeating one line at a time.
It is to Bernds' great credit, then, that the end result was a frenetic, high-energy Stooge short, considered one of the best produced during Curly's final months with the team.
- The short film title "Monkey Businessmen" is an expression of "Monkey Business."