STORY: When a storm breaks out, the Gang has to spend the
at Darla's house, much to her father's consternation.
Night n' Gales is one of those Gordon Douglas shorts that
packed with good stuff, it's hard to believe it is only ten minutes
long. Johnny Arthur scores again in his second Our
short, playing Darla's father, who has to sit through multiple
rendition of "Home Sweet Home", sung by the Gang in four-part
disharmony. A sudden thunderstorm forces the kids to stay at
Hood home, sleeping with Arthur in the film's best scene.
the fun comes from Arthur, but the Gang has some superior dialogue too.
"Junior", played by
young Gary Jasgar, was
basically a visual joke. Although he can sometimes be seen
smiling and laughing, his normal face is a blank, emotionless stare not
MR. HOOD: I'd rather sleep with a bunch of porcupines!
ALFALFA: Where you gonna find a porcupine this hour of the night?
MR. HOOD: Oooooh!
ALFALFA: By the way, what is a porcupine?
SPANKY: Aw, you tell him, Buckwheat.
BUCKWHEAT: Oh, Porky, you tell him.
PORKY: Oh, I don't know.
GOOD OLD DAYS
In a somewhat disturbing gag, Junior is accidentally locked in a refrigerator for a few minutes.
STORY: When Butch vows to beat up Alfalfa, Spanky cooks up a
scheme to make him believe Alfalfa busted his leg.
A short and sweet
continues the ongoing story of Alfalfa and his tormentor
One of the few shorts that paint Butch in more than a single
dimension, Fishy Tales
him to be forgiving of an Alfalfa
transgression (at first, at least) and later sympathetic over Alfalfa's
supposedly "dislokated" shin, offering to run and get a
Dumb as dirt, yes, but forgiving and sympathetic.
The one thing that mars this short a bit is an occasionally overplayed performance by Alfalfa, who can clearly be seen "acting" rather than reciting his lines in a believable manner.
STORY: Butch threatens Spanky with bodily harm if he allows
Alfalfa into a radio contest.
asked to accept an awful
lot here. First, that the Gang would build their own
Voice Studio dedicated solely to the
promotion of Alfalfa's crooning career. Second, that Butch is
a violin prodigy. Third, that the radio talent contest starts
immediately after Butch leaves the premises, even though neither he nor
Alfalfa had even begun heading down there. All of this
phoniness simply to get to
a very memorable ending in which Alfalfa's rendition of "Just An Echo
Hoo)" is ruined by a frog lost in his shirt. However, what I
before about these shorts holds true - they are so quick, they are
sometimes beyond criticism. Everybody does their job, there
few laughs and the ending is one that everyone who grew up watching the
Little Rascals on television remembers fondly. In fact,
tip: Want to find Little Rascals fans at random? Go
someplace fairly crowded - a restaurant, a
bank, a department store - and sing "Just an echo, yoo hoo!".
The people who sing "Ribbit Ribbit" in reply are the Little Rascals fans.
STORY: When Alfalfa returns from military school, his tall
to Darla about his football prowess catch up to him.
A likable film that manages to boil every college football picture ever made down into ten minutes. But where is Butch? There are three tough guys in this film, including Sidney "Da Woim" Kibrick, yet Butch is not in the cast. My guess is Tommy Bond was busy on other films (he can be seen in Laurel and Hardy's classic BLOCK-HEADS), because he does not return to Our Gang until Came the Brawn, released in April of 1938.
STORY: When Alfalfa is named president of The He-Man Woman
Club, he must retrieve a love note from Darla before the Gang finds out
Our Gang films were
now threatening to
become more professional and polished than funny. That is not
to say they weren't entertaining, but the emphasis on setting up a plot
and resolving it within ten minutes sometimes left the writers little
room for many gags. Nevertheless, Mail
and Female is something of a classic, what with The He Man
Haters Club rearing its head for a second time, plus Alfalfa dressing
in drag to fool Spanky and the Gang. A score featuring
high-quality background music from recent Laurel and Hardy features
STORY: Alfalfa, King of the Crooners, abandons pop music for
The first Our Gang
two-reeler since 1936's Arbor
Day, and the last two-reeler
released by Hal Roach. It is the best of the three
"Follies" films, probably featuring a bigger budget than Our Gang Follies of 1936 and
Reunion in Rhythm
Helping make this film superior to the
other musicals is character actor Henry Brandon, known to Laurel and
Hardy fans as the evil Silas Barnaby in BABES IN
TOYLAND. In Follies,
Brandon plays an opera company impresario
who is amused
by Alfalfa's singing of "The Barber of Seville" and jokingly signs him
to a meaningless contact
that will become valid in twenty years. When Alfalfa dreams
life in the future, Brandon shows up again as a villainous version of
the same impresario, wielding power over Alfalfa and forbidding him to
sing for anybody else. Brandon never became a big movie star,
his list of villainous credits is impressive. After
himself with his classic portrayal of Silas
Barnaby, Brandon would go on to play Fu Manchu in a 1940s movie serial,
Indian Scar in John Ford's classic THE SEARCHERS. He would do
much acting on television, appearing in what seems like every western
show ever made in the '50s as well as showing up on such popular shows
as Get Smart,
Little House on the
Prairie and Murder
The musical numbers are glossier than in the previous Follies shorts, and the whole film has a grandeur rarely seen in other Our Gang films. Yet the emphasis is still on the Gang. With the exception of his rendition of "Learn to Croon", which I find unlistenable, Alfalfa Switzer gives one of his best performances as the headstrong crooner who would rather sing Rossini than Crosby. He also proves himself capable of taking multiple tomatoes to the face without flinching. As always, Spanky is the perfect master of ceremonies, and even Darla gets a few laughs with her repeated boasts of a singing career that makes her "hundreds of thousands of dollars!". Among the production numbers, Georgia Jean LaRue comes off best with "That Foolish Feeling", and Darla, Buckwheat, Porky are fun to watch in the charming (and occasionally out of tune) "The Love Bug Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out."