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The Little Rascals, Vol. 1 [DVD]

Release Date:06/14/2011
This collection of ten Little Rascals shorts from 1929 and 1930 includes Lazy Days, Boxing Gloves, The First Seven Years, and When the Wind Blows.

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

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    Special Features

    • Video introduction from historian and author Richard Bann


    Moan & Groan, Inc.
    The success of this "Our Gang" comedy is due in great part to the performances of two adult comedians, Edgar Kennedy and Max Davidson. Warning the Gang members to stay away from an old, crumbling condemned house, Officer Kennedy suggests they dig for buried treasure. They do --- in the same house that Kennedy had told them to avoid. Once inside the ramshackle structure, the kids are terrorized by a crazy but harmless old hermit (Davidson), who eats invisible meals, emits loud and eerie howls, and periodically makes the curious announcement "I know --- but I won't tell ya!" The best gags involved a pair of Chinese handcuffs, which manage to incapacitate both Kennedy and the zany hermit. Initially released on December 7, 1929, "Moan & Groan Inc." was originally included in the "Little Rascals" TV package, but has since been withdrawn due to a handful of mild ethnic jokes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Boxing Gloves
    As usual, diminutive Our Gang member Allen "Farina" Hoskins is faced with an adult-sized dilemma. This time, Farina is a self-styled fight promoter, who hopes to strike it rich by staging a "heavyweight" bout between neighborhood fat boys Joe Cobb and Norman "Chubby" Chaney. Unfortunately, for Farina, longtime rivals Joe and Chubby have patched up their differences and are now the best of friends. All this changes, however, when pretty Jean Darling comes between the elephantine duo, whereupon Farina is able to promote the Battle of the Century in his barnyard boxing ring. When originally released on September 9, 1929, Boxing Gloves was advertised as an "all-talking" picture; in truth, however, it hovers hesitantly between a talkie and a silent film. This is never more jarring than during the climactic boxing sequence, in which several scenes are played out in utter silence, with no sound effects of any kind. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Shivering Shakespeare
    The Our Gang kids reluctantly participate in a stage presentation of Quo Vadis, retitled "The Gladiator's Dilemma" by its pretentious director, Mrs. Funston Evergreen Kennedy (Gertrude Sutton). Alas, none of the kids can remember their lines, the props and settings fall apart at the slightest provocation, and worst of all, a gang of tough kids is determined to disrupt the performance by tossing raw tomatoes and rotten eggs at the youthful thespians. Ultimately, the play degenerates into a slow-motion pie fight, with the kids onstage and the adults in the audience all participating with reckless abandon. Edgar Kennedy plays the director's long-suffering husband, while familiar comedy-film stalwarts Lyle Tayo, Ham Kinsey, Charles McAvoy and Harry Keaton (brother of Buster Keaton) show up in bit parts. Also: keep an eye peeled for former "Our Gang" member Mickey Daniels and teenaged terpsichorean Jerry McGowan, daughter of series producer Robert F. McGowan. "Shivering Shakespeare" was originally released on January 25, 1930. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Bouncing Babies
    Accustomed to being the center of attention in his family, little Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins is upset when the spotlight is stolen by his new baby brother. Envious of the new arrival, Wheezer scheme to take the infant back to the maternity hospital whence he came. But Wheezer's sister Mary Ann Jackson and the kids' mother concoct a scheme that is guaranteed to teach the "little rascal" a good lesson. Originally released on October 12, 1929, this "Our Gang" comedy is seen at a disadvantage today due to a substandard soundtrack. Nonetheless, "Bouncing Babies" contains a generous supply of laughs, thanks largely to a typical Hal Roach running gag wherein Wheezer practices an ingenious method of "traffic control." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The First Seven Years
    Hopelessly in love with little Mary Ann Jackson, seven-year-old Jackie Cooper would like to claim her as a "wife," but doesn't know how to go about it. When the "caveman" approach fails, Jackie tries the candy, flowers and clean-suit technique, only to find he has been beaten to the punch by his kiddie rival Donald "Speck" Haines. Thrilled at being a romantic bone of contention, Mary Ann insists that Jackie and Speck fight a duel in her honor. By the end of the day, the two combatants have all but wrecked the neighborhood with their makeshift swords and shields. A partial remake of the silent "Our Gang" comedy Ask Grandma, "The First Seven Years" features adult actors Edgar Kennedy, Joy Winthrop, and Otto Fries in supporting roles. The film was originally released on March 1, 1930 (A Spanish-language version, "Los Pequenos Papas," apparently no longer exists). ~ 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

    Small Talk
    The first all-talking "Our Gang" comedy, Small Talk was also one of the few series entries to run three reels rather than the customary two. A sentimental effort, the film details the trials of tribulations of two orphans -- played by Mary Ann Jackson and Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins -- when one of them is adopted by a wealthy matron (Helen Jerome Eddy). Though Wheezer is showered with toys, fancy clothes and other luxuries, he remains lonesome for his sister Mary Ann. The two kids are reunited when Mary Ann, together with the rest of her orphan pals, pay an unanounced visit to Wheezer's new digs. After laying waste to the mansion and accidentally summoning the cops, the youngsters are rescued from a return trip to the orphanage when a group of rich ladies agrees to adopt all of them immediately. Though exhibiting the customary clumsiness of early sound films, Small Talk also contains several surprisingly sophisticated "talkie" gags, including an opening bit involving various makeshift musical instruments. Originally released on May 18, 1929, the film was not included in the "Little Rascals" package released to television in the early 1950s because no decent picture and sound material then existed. Small Talk was restored for the home-movie market by Blackhawk Films in 1974, and released on video and DVD in the 1990s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The second "Our Gang" talkie, Railroadin' was filmed entirely out-of-doors, on location in and around the railroad yards behind the Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood. The fun begins when train engineer Otto Fries, the father of Gang members Joe Cobb and Norman "Chubby" Chaney, takes a lunch break, leaving Joe and Chubby to their own devices. Goaded on by their pals, the two kids attempt to operate their dad's locomotive, leading inexorably to a riotous runaway-train sequence, expertly combining laughs and thrills. Originally released on June 15, 1929, Railroadin' was long unavailable because its soundtrack discs could not be located. Then in the late 1970s, a complete talkie print was made available from Blackhawk Films, and subsequently released on video. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Lazy Days
    Lazy Days is built entirely around the fact that the Gang members in general and Allen "Farina" Hoskins in particular are too lazy to perform their chores or even indulge in horseplay. The pace picks up a bit when the kids decide to enter a "beautiful baby" contest in hopes of winning a $50 prize. When fat Joe Cobb tries to pass off his equally porcine pal Norman "Chubby" Chaney as an infant, it is clear that youngsters' chances of winning are slim indeed (and, as it turns out, were nonexistent in the first place!) Described by one observer as a "loud, long, yawn," Lazy Days was originally released on August 15, 1929. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    When the Wind Blows
    Officially an "Our Gang" comedy, "When the Wind Blows" is really a vehicle for adult comic Edgar Kennedy, here playing his usual role of a boastful, clumsy and cowardly cop. On a dark and windy night, Officer Kennedy tries to keep the peace in a small neighborhood, only to be frightened at every turn by loud noises, most of them emanating from the tarpaper shack where Allen "Farina" Hoskins and his brother live. Meanwhile, Jackie Cooper, accidentally locked out of his house, tries to regain entry without alerting his parents, or revealing that his pajama bottoms have been torn asunder. The plot thickens when a burglar shows up, affording both Jackie and Officer Kennedy the opportunity of becoming heroes (but guess who succeeds?) Originally released on April 5, 1930, "When the Wind Blows" was the first "Our Gang" comedy to feature a wall-to-wall musical score, though the familiar Hal Roach background tunes by LeRoy Shield and Marvin Hatley had not yet been composed. The film was also released in a Spanish-language version, which apparently has not survived. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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