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Our Gang/The Best of W.C. Fields [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Waldo's Last Stand
The Our Gang kids offer to help their pal Waldo (Darwood Kaye) attract customers to his lemonade stand. Redecorating their clubhouse as a lavish nightclub, the kids stage an elaborate floor show, with Darla Hood as the star vocalist. Unfortunately, their efforts attract only one patron -- a surly, stone-faced little kid with a Popeye-the-Sailor voice (Billy "Froggy" Laughlin, making his first Our Gang appearance). Originally released on October 5, 1940, the one-reel Waldo's Last Stand has since lapsed into the public domain, and as a result is the most easily accessible of the MGM Our Gang films (though certainly not the best of the batch!) ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

School's Out
In this sequel to the 1930 "Our Gang" comedy "Teacher's Pet," the Gang members eagerly await each school day, so that they can bask in the beauty and charm of their new schoolteacher Miss Crabtree (June Marlowe). Little Jackie Cooper is so smitten by the teacher that he circulates a "perdition" to keep school open all year round. When Miss Crabtree's brother Jack (Creighton Hale) pays a visit to the schoolhouse in his sister's absence, the kids begin to worry that Jack is actually their teacher's fiancé. Remembering that marriage was "the way we lost Miss McGillicuddy" (their previous teacher), the youngsters hatch several schemes to get rid of Jack, culminating with the theft of his clothes. An amusing subplot involves a verbal general-knowledge quiz, in which the kids provide foolish answers gleaned from an old joke book. "School's Out" was originally released on November 22, 1930. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Fourth Alarm
While the Our Gang kids are beating the summer heat with their own elaborate version of a "slip-n-slide," a fire alarm rings, and the men from the nearby firehouse race to the conflagration. Tagging along, the youngsters manage, through a series of incredible coincidences, to put the fire out themselves. Impressed, the fire chief deputizes the kids and helps them organize their own fire brigade. As usual, the gang takes its new responsibilities with the seriousness of any adult: They even build their own fire engine, which though unwieldy is certainly fast and efficient. But will the gang be able to extinguish a fire in a chemist's lab and escape being blown to bits by a hidden reserve of dynamite? Largely filmed on the familiar Hal Roach Studios back lot (sharp-eyed comedy fans can spot such "landmarks" as the A to Z Pawnshop and the Pink Pup Café), The Fourth Alarm was originally released on September 12, 1926. The film was meticulously remade in 1932 as Hook and Ladder. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bear Shooters
Popular child actor (and later radio and TV stalwart) Leon Janney made his one and only "Our Gang" appearance in "Bear Shooters." Ordered by his mother to look after his kid brother Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins, nine-year-old Spud (Janney) is worried that he won't be able to join his pals on a hunting trip --- while his pals know that if Spud doesn't go, Spud's mule Dinah can't go either. A compromise is reached whereby Wheezer tags along with the rest of the Gang as they seek out "big game" in a nearby woods. But instead of capturing a bear, as they had hoped, the kids are confronted by a gorilla --- actually a heavily costumed bootlegger (Charlie Hall) who wants to scare the youngsters away from his hideout. Unfortunately for the crook and his partner (Bob Kortman), the kids are a lot more resourceful than they appear. Originally released on May 17, 1930, "Bear Shooters" slipped into Public Domain in 1984, and as such is one of the most readily available "Our Gang" talkies. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Our Gang Follies of 1938
Briefly digressing from "Our Gang"'s new one-reel format, the series' December 18, 1937 release, Our Gang Follies of 1938, was expanded to two reels -- and the result is often considered to be the best "Gang" comedy of all. Another musical short in the tradition of Our Gang Follies of 1936 and Reunion in Rhythm, this one begins in the basement "theater" of Spanky McFarland, who serves as emcee of a lavish kiddie revue, built primarily around the talents of Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, "King of the Crooners." Alas, Alfalfa has decided to forego swing music in favor of grand opera, and to that end he walks out of the show and heads to the Cosmopolitan Opera House, where Mr. Barnaby (Henry Brandon), the troupe's bemused manager, jokingly signs Alfalfa to a contract -- effective twenty years later. Falling asleep, Alfalfa begins dreaming of his future, envisioning his name in lights all over Broadway. Alfie's dream turns into a nightmare when he loses his "gift" on the eve of his operatic debut, whereupon the now aged and wizened Barnaby forces the hapless crooner to sing in the streets. Our hero is rescued when he ventures into fashionable Club Spanky, where lead singer Darla Hood and orchestra leader Billy "Buckwheat" Thomas are now making "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Though at first insisting that he's a "slave to his art," Alfie finally breaks down and agrees to return to crooning -- but his dream, and the film, aren't quite over yet. Seldom has the imagination of a child been so vividly conveyed as in Our Gang Follies of 1938, wherein the standard "show-biz movie" cliches are played out and exaggerated for all they're worth. As a bonus, the film scores as both an uproarious comedy and a legitimately entertaining musical. Highlights include Alfalfa's unforgettable renditions of "I'm the Barber of Seville" and "Learn to Croon"; Darla's interpretation of "The Love Bug Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out"; "Loch Lomond", performed by Annabella Logan (who grew up to become fabled jazz singer Annie Ross); and "That Foolish Feeling" and "There's No Two Ways About It", sung and danced by Georgia Jean LaRue and Phil MacMahon. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer
    Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer - Alfalfa
  • Image coming soon
    Darwood Kaye - Waldo
  • Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
    Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas - Buckwheat
  • Darla Hood
    Darla Hood - Darla
  • Billy "Froggy" Laughlin
    Billy "Froggy" Laughlin - Froggy
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.