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The Little Rascals, Vol. 3 [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Video Introduction From Little Rascal Dickie Moore

Synopsis

Free Eats
To further her husband's political career, wealthy Mrs. Clark (Lillian Elliot) throws a lavish party in her home for the poor children of the community. Among the invitees are the Our Gang kids, including Matthew "Stymie" Beard, who of late has been getting into trouble because of his tall tales. Thus, no one believes Stymie when he claims that a pair of midgets, disguised as infants, have invaded the party for the purpose of stealing everybody's wallets and jewelry. As it turns out, however, Stymie is telling the truth for the first time in his life. Originally released on February 11, 1932, "Free Eats" benefits from a strong adult supporting cast, including Billy Gilbert and Paul Fix (the latter in female drag!) as a pair of crooks. The film is best remembered, however, as the "Our Gang" debut of 3-year-old George "Spanky" McFarland, who delivers a rambling, impromptu monologue about monkeys, swings, and airplanes --- hardly a high point in American comedy, but enchanting nonetheless. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hook and Ladder
Originally released on August 27, 1932, Hook and Ladder was a remake of the 1926 "Our Gang" comedy The Fourth Alarm, with several gags repeated verbatim. Answering the Fire Chief's request for volunteers, the Our Gang kids form their own firefighting squadron, replete with ersatz uniforms, a fire pole, a dog-and-cat-powered alarm, and a jerry-built fire engine that must be seen to be believed. After a few false alarms and delays, the kids are afforded the opportunity to put out a real fire, which they do with the expertise of veteran smoke-eaters. Some of the sequences in the blazing warehouse may be a bit intense for modern viewers, but rest assured that the kids back in 1932 were both thrilled and delighted. An amusing running gag involving little Spanky McFarland's worm medicine punctuates this lively series entry. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Readin' and Writin'
June Marlowe made her final "Our Gang" appearance as Miss Crabtree in "Readin' and Writin'." Despite his mother's admonitions that he'll "never be President" unless he attends school, little Breezy Brisbane (Kenneth McKenna) contocts a plan that will earn him expulsion from Miss Crabtree's classroom. But though Breezy is able to escape the halls of learning, he is unable to elude his own conscience, in a scene eerily reminiscent of the Eugene O'Neill play Strange Interlude. Along the way, Miss Crabtree tries to conduct another "pop quiz," apple-polisher Sherwood "Spud" Bailey recites a sappy poem, and the classroom is invaded by both a donkey and a skunk. "Readin' and Writin'" was originally released on February 2, 1932. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Spanky
Earning instant stardom via his appearance in the 1932 "Our Gang" comedy "Free Eats," 3-year-old George "Spanky" McFarland was rewarded with his own two-reel vehicle, appropriately titled "Spanky." One suspects, however, that the film, a remake of the 1926 "Our Gang" entry "Uncle Tom's Uncle," was on the drawing boards long before Spanky signed with Hal Roach, inasmuch as the youngster's "showcase" scenes are largely unrelated to the plot proper. While Spanky toddles around the house attempting to kill bugs with an outsized hammer, the older Gang members endeavor to stage a barn production of Uncle Tom's Cabin, with black youngster Mathew "Stymie" Beard pressed into service as both Uncle Tom and Topsy. Comedy buffs will enjoy the brief but explosive appearance by Billy Gilbert as Spanky's loutish father, and the clever utilization of a Negro spiritual lifted from the soundtrack of the Laurel and Hardy feature Pardon Us (1931). "Spanky" was originally released on March 26, 1932. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Dogs Is Dogs
Another expert blend of genuine sentiment, moving pathos and belly laughs, the "Our Gang" comedy "Dogs is Dogs" was orginally released on November 21, 1931. This time, Gang members Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins and Dorothy DeBorba are cast as brother and sister, left in charge of their hateful stepmother (Blanche Payson) while their absentee father weathers a serious illness. In addition to being abused by their stepmom, the kids must suffer the taunts of their prissy stepbrother, played by Sherwood "Spud" Bailey. Fortunately, their old pal Matthew "Stymie" Beard is around to brighten their lives and to outfox the despicable Spud. Also figuring in the proceedings is the beloved Pete the Pup, who very nearly meets an unpleasant demise thanks to the combined machinations of the villains. A variety of plot complications both hilarious and heart-breaking occur before the inevitable happy ending. Incidentally, this is the film in which the crafty Stymie explains how "ham and eggs can talk" --- thereby obtaining a free meal in the process. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Birthday Blues
A superb combination of belly laughs and pathos, the "Our Gang" comedy "Birthday Blues" was originally released on November 12, 1932. When their pennypinching father (Hooper Atchley) refuses to buy a birthday gift for their long-suffering mother (Lillian Rich), brothers Dickie Moore and Spanky McFarland decide to purchase Mom a gift on their own. Unfortunately, the "late 1922 model" dress they've selected is way beyond their price range (a daunting $1.98); thus, acting upon the advice of their pal Matthew "Stymie" Beard, Dickie and Spanky decide to bake a cake with hidden prizes, then auction off the cake at ten cents a slice. This is the film in which the kids' oversized cake --- a truly frightening creation --- emits a low "woooooo-owww" sound as it cools off in the oven. It is also the film in which, responding to Spanky's suggestion that they buy their mom a shotgun, Dickie moans "Aw, what would she do with a gun?" --- whereupon Spanky replies "Shoot Papa!!!!" ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Choo Choo!
Originally released on May 7, 1932, the "Our Gang" comedy "Choo-Choo!" was a loose remake of the 1923 two-reeler A Pleasant Journey. Exchanging clothes with a group of mischievous orphans, the Our Gang kids end up on a train headed for Chicago. Pressed into service as the kids' supervisor, effeminate Travelers Aid attendant Mr. Henderson (Dell Henderson) suffers the torments of the darned, especially when he tries to prevent three-year old George "Spanky" McFarland from punching the nose of every adult in sight. Things to come to a head when the kids manage to get hold of some fireworks, at the same time accidentally releasing a menagerie of circus animals from the baggage car. Listen carefully and you'll hear the voice of Oliver Hardy as the fireworks salesman yells for help. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Shiver My Timbers
The Our Gang kids spend so much time listening to the tall tales spun by a salty sea captain (Billy Gilbert) that they haven't any time to attend school. Their teacher Miss Crabtree (June Marlowe) angrily trails the kids to the docks, then gives the captain a piece of their mind. Apologizing, the captain suggests a drastic plan to cure the kids of their fondness for maritime stories, enlisting Miss Crabtree as co-conspirator. Inviting the youngsters to sign on as crew members, the captain orders them to board ship at midnight, whereupon he and his crew, disguised as buccaneers stage a mock pirate raid guaranteed to scare the kids out of his wits. But when the captain pretends to kidnap Miss Crabtree (who of course is in on the scheme), the kids vow to come to her rescue, turning the tables on the "pirates" in a most painful fashion. Originally released on October 10, 1931, "Shiver My Timbers" is a lesser but amusing "Our Gang" entry. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Pooch
Cheerful vagrant Mathew "Stymie" Beard tries to get back in the good graces of the Gang after stealing their pies. Stymie's not a bad kid, just hungry, as proven when he cadges a meal from a friendly housewife -- a meal supposedly for his faithful pet Pete the Pup, but actually consumed by himself. When a mean dogcatcher (Budd Fine) tries to round up the Gang's dogs, Stymie comes to the rescue, earning the undying devotion of the kids and the animosity of the dogcatcher, who vengefully bundles Petey off to the pound, intending to consign the poor pooch to the gas chamber. Desperately, Stymie prays for the five dollars necessary to spring Petey, whereupon a five-spot blows out of the hands of a lady shopper and lands at Stymie's feet. For a while, it seems as if Stymie and the Gang are too late to save Petey from being destroyed, but the dog has a trick or two of his own up his. . .er. . .sleeve. A semi-remake of the 1927 "Our Gang" comedy "Love My Dog," "The Pooch" was originally released on June 11, 1932. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Free Wheeling
Confined to a neck brace, poor little rich boy Dickie Moore would like to play with the neighborhood kids, but his overprotective mother (Lillian Rich) won't let him. On the sly, however, Dickie sneaks out of his bedroom in search of adventure in the company of his best pal, Matthew "Stymie" Beard. Purchasing a ride on the donkey-driven "taxicab" piloted by Breezy Brisbane (Kendall McComas), the boys, along with hitchhikers Spanky McFarland and Jacquie Lyn, experience enough thrills and excitement to last a lifetime when the taxi begins rolling down a steep hill ---with no brakes! A classic "Our Gang" entry (who could forget the shot of the "runaway" spare tires, or Stymie's instant "cure" of Dickie's stiff neck?), Free Wheeling was originally released on October 1, 1932. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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