The Stooges are small-time actors traveling by train to an engagement—and fleeing the landlady for their unpaid rent. They are told to put their pet monkey, Joe, in the baggage car, but are afraid he will get hurt. They sneak Joe onto the Southern Pacific train with them, but Joe gets loose, And they have a hard time getting up to the berth bed by making a lot of noise and managing to awaken and annoy all of the train's passengers, including Mr. Paul Pain (James C. Morton) and Mr. Johnson the stage manager and boss (Bud Jamison), the latter of which routinely bonks his head on the upper berth upon awakening. Ultimately, a terrified Joe pulls the train's emergency cord, abruptly stopping the train in the process. The passengers then forcibly remove the Stooges from the train because they were fired for making a lot of noises and bringing their pet monkey onto the train and they land on three cows and hobble away.
Moe Howard had fond memories of filming A Pain in the Pullman. He also recalled his intense dislike for shellfish, and how brother Curly Howard cut the inside of his mouth eating the shells from a Dungeness crab:
...In one sequence, all three of us wound up in the same upper berth. Later, we found ourselves a drawing room, not knowing it was assigned to the star of the show (James C. Morton). There was a lovely table set in the room with all kinds of delicacies.
At one point Curly picked up the hard-shelled Dungeness crab. We, of course, were not supposed to know what it was. Larry thought it was a tarantula, Curly figured it to be a turtle, and I concluded that it must be something to eat or it wouldn't be on the table with crackers and sauce.
As the scene progressed, Curly tried to open the crab shell and bent the tines of his fork. I took the fork from Curly, tossed a napkin on the floor, and asked him to pick it up. When Curly bent over, I hit him on the head with the crab, breaking the shell into a million pieces. Then Curly scooped out some of the meat, tasted it, and made a face. He threw the meat away and proceeded to eat the shell.
I have to tell you, if there's one thing to which I have an aversion, it's shellfish, and I couldn't bring myself—even for a film—to put that claw in my mouth. Preston Black, the director, asked me to just lick the claw, but I couldn't. He finally had the prop man duplicate the claw out of sugar and food coloring and had me nibble on it as though I was enjoying it. I was still very wary during the scene. I was afraid they had coated the real shell with sugar and that that awful claw was underneath. I chewed that claw during the scene, but if you'll notice, I did it very gingerly.
In the meantime, Curly was still chewing on the shell, which was cutting the inside of his mouth. Finally, our star comes back to his room and kicks us out, and we three climb into our upper berth to go to sleep.