Three of a Kind (1944)

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Shemp Howard and Billy Gilbert are a pair of lovable vaudeville clowns who spend most of their free time looking after the young son (Robert "Buzzy" Henry) of their boss (Paul Phillips), a nice guy who is trying desperately to hold together his second marriage. When his wife (Helen Gilbert) walks out, and he dies in an accident, Billy and Shemp are left to take care of the boy. In the course of looking for work, they meet impoverished restaurateur Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom and manage to achieve success as entertainers when their antics prove more alluring to patrons than the food they cook up. But then their late boss' widow and the man she's taken up with turn up, trying to claim custody of the boy so that they can steal the insurance payment for his father's death. Suddenly, everything they have worked for is in jeopardy, unless Billy can get married and adopt the boy legally. But marrying off Billy Gilbert is a task easier said than done, and leads to a comical search worthy of a good Three Stooges movie (only slightly more sophisticated). The two grifters manage to fool Billy into thinking the boy would be better off with the former stepmother -- he lets the boy go, which breaks up his partnership with Shemp. Can Maxie Rosenbloom's fists and the legal system put these three back together where they belong?