Shivering Shakespeare  
 
25 January 1930
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels

 

Director: Anthony Mack (Robert A. McGowan) Cinematography: Art Lloyd
Producer: Robert F. McGowan, Hal Roach Editor: Richard C. Currier
Story editor: H.M. Walker Sound recording: Elmer Raguse

AVAILABLE ON DVD

"The Gladiator's Dilemma" is a stage production being performed by the Our Gang kids.  Mrs. Kennedy (Gertrude Sutton) takes to the stage to introduce the show to the sound of raspberries being blown by Wheezer backstage.  Mary Ann is first up, followed by Farina and then Wheezer with Mrs. Kennedy shouting instructions from the sidelines in what looks like something you would see in a school play.  Husband Edgar Kennedy sits backstage, pipe in mouth, ready for his cue to add the special sound effects of thunder to the atmosphere of the play.  Farina makes his speech with his sword in hand but he is rudely rammed off stage by a goat, much to the delight and applause from the crowd.
Chubby sits off stage talking with Farina whilst writing passages from a script onto his robe when Edgar comes over to put the robe on the right way around, meaning Chubby can no longer read the words.  Act II is introduced and the curtain goes up with Jackie awkwardly leading the next scene with a guard (unidentified actor) but after a long speech Jackie is taken away as a prisoner by the boy.  A young girl (Edith Fellows) bursts out crying with an elephant walks out onto the stage but her tears are short lived when she realises it is only Kennedy the cop in a costume.
Chubby has to do some costume adjustments after sitting on some apples before a dancing girl takes to the stage.  A rowdy group of bullies decide they don't like the act and throw an egg at her.  Chubby continues to fumble his lines and has to keep lifting up his costume to read the script he has written on the inside of it, whilst Farina and Wheezer continue on stage.  The bullies continue their assault on the cast by throwing more eggs - first at Chubby followed by Farina.  The curtain is raised to expose Kennedy behind it and him operating a piece of the backdrop on a moving conveyor.
Act III begins with Mary complaining that one of the boys keeps sticking his spear into her and Farina receives a second pie to the face from the bullies but carries on with the show.  A kid in a lion costume is released from a cage and is repeatedly hit over the head by Farina with his sword until the lion chases him all over the stage.  Chubby takes another face splattering from the bullies as a two-man team dressed in a bull costume takes to the stage and starts fighting with Kennedy, who also takes a pie in the face.  But when Chubby takes a third splattering, his mother (Lyle Tayo) cries out from the audience for him to fight back.
Chubby launches a pie at the bullies but instead hits a man (Ham Kinsey) in the audience.  With his face covered in cream, Kinsey walks to the back of the hall and buys a pie for himself, which he launches back in the direction of the stage.  Unfortunately the pie hits the wrong boy, whose father happens to be watching.  The father demands a pie and launches it at Kinsey but hits the vendor (Clara Guiol) instead.  Here we go!!!
A man (Chris Lynton) stands up and voices his objection over a woman being hit with the pie but of course he is quickly put in his place with a pie to his face from the bullies.  He retaliates and hits another man; the bullies hit Farina, Jackie and Chubby.  In a surprise twist Chubby throws a pie at his own mother.  A fat lady gets hit, then Chubby again, then a man who asks for a pie (I mean, what did he think would happen when in the middle of a pie fight he asks for a pie?)
The remaining last couple of minutes of the film is just a chaotic pie fight with just about every person receiving at least one face shot.  When Mary Ann gets a facial everything suddenly goes quiet and the kids line up on the stage to take one final instruction from Kennedy.  Collectively they all turn their attentions to his wife and she goes from 'clean' to 'covered' in the space of a second.

Favourite bit
Well I have to say the kids fail to shine in this very mediocre entry.  If there is one scene which even remotely stands out then it is Edgar Kennedy falling over on stage whilst dressed in an elephant costume.  His bashful reaction is probably the best moment of the otherwise horrible twenty minutes.

Facts
•The 95th film in the series.
•Production G-29 - Our Gang series.
•Filmed September 30 - October 12, 1929.
•Copyrighted December 17, 1929.
•This short is a remake of Stage Fright.
•Contrary to popular belief, the actor playing "Ursus" in the play, who also appears in the lion costume, is actually not former Rascal Mickey Daniels.  The actor is actually Fletcher Tolbert.
•Jerry McGowan in the cast is the daughter of Robert F. McGowan.
•The print of this film available on the 8-disc DVD set from RHI Entertainment has a Blackhawk re-issue title card.
•Some sources list the pie vendor as Dorothy Coburn.  This is in fact Clara Guiol.
Did you notice?
•The play takes place at Gamut Hall.
At the beginning of the film we see the advert board for the play.  Look at the date: February 18th.  What historical occurance happened on February 18th 1930?  The planet of PLUTO was discovered.  Now the bit which spoils it a little bit... February 18th 1930 fell on Tuesday; but given the film was released before February 1930, we have to assume the advert was for a year prior to 1930.  Unfortunately, the date on the poster says THURSDAY February 18th.  The closest years when Feb 18th fell on a Thursday would have been 1926 and 1932.
•The billboards for the play states an acknowledgement of excepts from Shakespeare, Confucius, Aristophanes, Bacon, Cervantes and Irvin S. Cobb.
There is an advert at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty curtain on stage that encourages to eat Chesterfield's ice cream.
When Mary Ann takes to the stage to do her first line, you can see there is a cut in the film after she says the word "mountains".
You sort of form the impression that when Wheezer is on stage near the beginning of the film that he is reading his complicated dialogue off cue cards out of shot of the camera.
There are some difficult, long takes for some of the kids especially Jackie.  I wonder if what you see on screen was scripted (with the off-screen interruptions and next lines being called out) or whether it was genuinely hard for them to remember their lines?
There are some scenes where it sounds like Farina has a croaky voice.  Also, it's an amazing shot when that second pie hits him square in the face from distance.  Anyone would think it was thrown from just out of camera range!
Chubby takes a pie to the face but in the very next shot his face is perfectly clean.
The pies available at the kiosk are chocolate, banana, banana cream, custard, raisin, mince pie, chocolate cake, fruit and chocolate eclair.  Each pie costs 10 cents.
After the boy on stage gets hit by Ham Kinsey's flying pie, the gentleman in the audience (Charles McAvoy) addresses the pie vendor from his chair, "Young lady bring me one pie".  Sounds reasonable and polite on the surface, but why does he think it is acceptable for her to come to him in order for the transaction to be completed, especially seeing as it is usually custom for the buyer to approach the seller, as was seen in the case of Ham Kinsey's character?
Is it just me or does the sound of the pie hitting Clara Guiol's face sound and look just a bit ruthless!

Norman 'Chubby' Chaney
Chubby / Nero
Allen 'Farina' Hoskins
Farinacus
Jackie Cooper
Jackie
Mary Ann Jackson
Mary Ann / Mary Annicus
Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins
Wheezer
Donald Haines
Donny
Edith Fellows
Girl scared of elephant
Gordon Thorpe
Effeminate boy
Chris Lynton
Man who 'resents it'
Carlton Griffin
Man inside bull costume
Clara Guiol
Pie vendor
Marvin Hatley
Musician
Edgar Kennedy
Kennedy
Ham Kinsey
First man hit with pie
Charles Lloyd
Man in audience
Charlie Hall
Pie thrower
Charles McAvoy
Man whose son is splattered
Jerry McGowan
Dancing girl
Jack McHugh
Tough kid leader
Malcom Sebastion
Court magician
Gertrude Sutton
Mrs. Funston Evergreen Kennedy
Lyle Tayo
Norman's mother
Fletcher Tolbert
Kid inside lion costume
Harry Keatan
Man hit with pie
Douglas Greer
Turkey Egg, curtain puller
Helen Gilmore
Woman in audience
  Johnny Aber
Tough kid
  Georgie Billings
Shepherd
  Bobby Mallon
Shepherd / Guard
  Buster Slaven
Shepherd / Guard
  Retta Palmer
Woman in audience
  Art Stephenson
Musician
  Vern Trimble
Musician
   


Acknowledgements:
http://www.theluckycorner.com/rmt/095.html (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner)
http://ourgang.wikia.com/wiki/Shivering_Shakespeare (Our Gang Wiki)
http://www.threestooges.net/cast/actor/72 (The Three Stooges)
"The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang" by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book)
Brent Seguine (identification of Harry Keatan)

This page was last updated on: 07 September 2015