Notes on the Our Gang Page

by John V. Brennan

     In this section, I review only the Our Gang/Little Rascals sound shorts films made at Hal Roach Studios between 1929 amid 1938.  These are the ones I remember from television from my childhood (props to Officer Joe Bolton and WPIX, Channel 11, NYC) and the ones that mean the most to me.  If I can track down the only Our Gang feature again (GENERAL SPANKY), I will certainly review that too.  Later on down the road, I may review a few of the silents, and (less likely) a handful of the the ones made after Roach sold the series to MGM.

     In developing this Our Gang section, I have been watching the films in order, from Small Talk to Hide and Shriek, for the second time in my life, while taking some notes and consulting Maltin and Bann's The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang to make sure I have the order of the films right and the casts listed correctly.  However, I guarantee you there will be mistakes.  There is a lot of cutting and pasting going on here, and I am sure that here and there, cast members will be listed incorrectly. I am working on that, but if you see anything obvious, please email this site at the address listed below.  (For example, I just recently discovered that in the short Love Business, I listed Edgar Kennedy instead of June Marlowe.  I've got to get my glasses fixed!)

    As far as rating each film, I am not going to do that.  I am not sure if ten and twenty minute films really hold up to the 0 to 5 star standard and it is not worth the trouble trying to find out.  I also don't think you can really assign stars to films in a series whose only real goal was to present cute kids doing funny things.  You'll rarely find me making disparaging remarks about any of the kids either, even if privately I find the talents of one or two of them unfathomable.  I may criticize a character, but not the child performer who plays the character.  (Okay, maybe once or twice).  You can get a good sense of how much I like a particular short simply by reading my review.  A short review of only a paragraph or so does not necessarily mean I do not like a film. You can also get an idea of who my favorite rascals are by the pictures I use and what I write.  Hint: notice how many times pictures of Chubby shows up in the first three sections.   Another hint:  Wheezer.

     There are periods of Our Gang, especially in the mid 1930s, where many kids show up at random and are added to the gang simply to fill some space.  I am trying to mark shorts where new members are added and old members are discarded, but there are  times I have to throw up my hands and just let some kids slide.  As far as listing the casts, I often do not list the entire gang in the cast credits of a review, because, even though I read in the Maltin-Bann book that they are there, I don't know who they are.  And if I can't pick a rascal out of a lineup, that particular kid is probably not going to be listed.  I list all the major rascals, some second-string rascals, easily spotted third-tier rascals (Donald Haines, for example) and random rascals with some interesting fact about them (Jaquie Lynn, Stymie's various siblings).  But I cannot list all the rascals all the time.  If you have any objections, I apologize ahead of time. 

     As for listing the adults in a particular film, I am hit and miss.  If I think a particular adult deserves mentioning, I will mention him or her.  But I am not going to list every cop (it's probably Harry Bernard) or father (it's probably Otto Fries) that ever showed up in the Our Gang world.  If you think a particular adult is worth mentioning, please write.

     In the reviews I sometimes have sub-headings, where I mention other things about the film.  Most are self-explanatory.  The one that may need a little explanation is GOOD OLD DAYS.  That is the section where I list and/or discuss particular lines, gags, situations and characters that would not fly today's more sensitive (overly so, in my opinion) times.  The heading GOOD OLD DAYS, taken from the title of the Our Gang theme song, is meant to be ironic.  So please don't write thinking that I am a madman pining for the days when 3-year-olds could run around with guns in a movie or racial gags could be tossed around so easily.  I am not pining for those days, merely pointing out how different things were back then. - JB

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