The Little Rascals [DVD]

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The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection [8 Discs] (DVD)  (English)  1929 - Larger Front

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Overview

Synopsis

Divot Diggers
After several years away from the Our Gang series, the gang's longtime mentor Robert F. McGowan briefly resumed his directorial activities with the sidesplitting Divot Diggers. The action takes place at an expansive California golf course, where the Our Gang kids merrily play their own ragtag version of golf with their own makeshift clubs. When the course's regular caddies quit en masse, the desperate caddy master hires the gang members as replacements. The kids -- and their gibberish-spouting pet chimpanzee -- proceed to drive an adult foursome crazy, then put the finishing touch on an imperfect day by accidentally commandeering a lawn-mowing tractor. To list the film's best verbal and visual gags would require a website in itself; suffice to say that the film packs an inordinate amount of laughs into its brief 14 minutes. Augmented by a terrific LeRoy Shield musical score (including such familiar Hal Roach leitmotifs as "Hot and Dry," "Standing on the Corner," and "Beyond the Rainbow"), Divot Diggers made its theatrical debut on February 8, 1936. ~ 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

Hide and Shriek
Opening his own detective agency, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer dons a deerstalker cap and rechristens himself "X-10, Sooper Sleuth." His first assignment: to find out who stole a box of candy from Darla Hood. Suspecting that little Leonard Landy and Gary "Junior" Jasgar are the culprits, Alfie and his chief (and only) operatives Billy "Buckwheat" Thomas and Eugene "Porky" Lee put a tail on the two youngsters. Unfortunately, the three junior gumshoes are sidetracked to a seaside amusement pier, where they find themselves trapped in the fun-house. Scared out of their wits by various ersatz ghosts, monsters and spooky moans and groans, our heroes vow to give up the detective business forever -- if they live that long! Originally released on June 18, 1938, the one-reel Hide and Shriek was the final entry in producer Hal Roach's "Our Gang" series, and indeed, Roach's final short-subject release on any kind. Within a few months, however, the "Our Gang" property would be revived by MGM, remaining in production until 1943. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Lad an' a Lamp
Fascinated by the story of Aladdin's magic lamp, the Our Gang kids gather together every electric light fixture in the neighborhood, hoping that by rubbing them vigorously, a genie will appear. Thanks to a series of coincidences -- not least of which involves a friendly stage magician -- the kids become convinced that they've succeeded in emulating Aladdin. But their excitement turns to dismay when Mathew "Stymie" Beard believes that he's transformed his kid brother Cotton (Bobby Beard) into a monkey! Despite a marvelous sequence in which Spanky McFarland enjoys a free meal at a lunch counter, courtesy of a trained monkey, it cannot be denied that this film contains a great deal of casually racist humor that seems tasteless when viewed today. For that reason, "A Lad an' a Lamp," originally released on December 17, 1932, has been withdrawn from the "Little Rascals" TV package, though the film is available to home-video collectors. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

For Pete's Sake
When neighborhood bully Leonard Kibrick wrecks little Marianne Edwards' favorite doll, the "Our Gang" kids promise to purchase a new doll for the brokenhearted girl. Unfortunately, the local toy store is run by Leonard's equally obnoxious father William Wagner, who agrees to give the kids a doll only if they'll hand over their beloved Pete the Pup in exchange. Balking at this arrangement, the kids concoct a variety of moneymaking schemes, all of them doomed to failure. Tearfully, the youngsters trade Pete for the doll --- but fear not, a happy ending is waiting in the wings! Originally released on April 14, 1934, "For Pete's Sake" is highlighted by the bantering byplay between the two youngest "Our Gang" members, Spanky McFarland and Scotty Beckett. ~ 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

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

The Kid From Borneo
In this classic "Our Gang" comedy, Dickie Moore, Spanky McFarland and Dorothy DeBorba play siblings who, through a misunderstanding, become convinced that the local carnival's "Wild Man of Borneo" is really their prodigal Uncle George. Though basically harmless, the Wild Man really goes wild when he's hungry for candy. Shouting "Yum, yum! Eat 'em up," the Wild Man sparks a hectic chase that doesn't let up until the "End" title. Best scene: little Spanky prodding the Wild Man into eating the entire contents of the family refrigerator. Originally released on April 15, 1933, "The Kid From Borneo" has been withdrawn from the "Little Rascals" TV package due to its allegedly offensive "racist" content; even so, it remains a favorite on the home-video market. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hi'-Neighbor!
When wealthy young Jerry Tucker moves into town, the Our Gang kids line up to greet him. Alas, Jerry is a snobbish sort, though he immediately turns on the charm when he meets little Jane (Jackie Taylor), the erstwhile girlfriend of Wally Albright. Worried that Jane's head will be turned by Jerry's shiny new toy fire engine, Wally and the Gang build a fire truck of their own --- an impressive effort, constructed from virtually every piece of scrap metal and every stray wheel in the neighborhood. The story comes to a riotous conclusion when Jerry and the Gang race their respective fire engines down one of those very steep hills that one finds only in two-reel comedies. Originally released on March 3, 1934, "Hi'-Neighbor!" was the first of many top-rank "Our Gang" films directed by Gus Meins. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Fly My Kite
A real four-hankie picture, "Fly My Kite" is one of "Our Gang"'s most poignant episodes, though it also manages to be hilariously funny at times. Margaret Mann makes a return appearance as the gang's adopted Grandma, who reads Wild West stories to the kids, gives them boxing tips and dispenses valuable advice about honesty and decency. The fly in the ointment is Grandma's hateful son-in-law Dan (played by James Mason -- not the famous British actor) who orders the old lady to pack up and get out so that he and his new wife (Mae Busch) can move in. On cue, the Gang attacks Dan en masse and forces him to make a hasty retreat, though he warns Grandma that she'd better be gone by the time he gets back. While on his way out, Dan peeks into Grandma's mailbox and finds a letter stating that she is in possession of old gold bonds now worth $100,000. Returning, Dan tells her that the bonds are worthless, hoping to get his own grimy hands on the valuable documents. But Grandma, still unaware of her financial windfall, informs Dan that the bonds did "go up" after all: She has tied them to the tail of the kids' kite, which is now flying high in the air. The rest of the film is a slapstick tour de force, as the Gang uses any weapon at their disposal ---rocks, nails, broken bottles, etc. --- to prevent Dan from retrieving the kite. Utilizing one of LeRoy Shield's lushest musical scores (including such unforgettable tunes as the plaintive "Prelude" and the helter-skelter &"Hide and Go Seek"), "Fly My Kite" is among those rare "Our Gang" films that extends its appeal even to non-fans of the series. Originally released on May 30, 1931, the film represented the last "Our Gang" appearance of series stalwart Allen "Farina" Hoskins. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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