Series: Our Gang

Director: Robert F. McGowan
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Kendall McComas, Matthew Beard, Bobby Hutchins, Dorothy DeBorba, Sherwood Bailey
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 02 January 1932
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: G-4
Filming dates: September 30 - October 10, 1931
Rating: 5/10

Readin' And Writin'

Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

It's the end of the summer holidays and all the kids are off to school. Farina and his sister Marmalade (seriously? 'Marmalade'?) make their way to school; as does Wheezer who discourages Pete from following him to school; and Brisbane has an argument with his mother over him wanting to be a streetcar conductor against her wishes for him to be President! Along the way Wheezer poses a question to Stymie about how many apples he would have if Wheezer gave him two and then took one away. Stymie decides to be a smartass so when they come to a fruit vendor by the side of the road Wheezer demonstrates using real apples ("I don't want to buy them I just want to borrow them") he tells Harry Bernard, the vendor. Wheezer makes off after stealing four apples from him! Brisbane comes upon a blacksmith at work whom he insults for not being President and for being "only a blacksmith".
The blacksmith puts some ideas into Brisbane's head on how not to make a good impression at school before the kid heads off for class. Arriving before everybody else, Brisbane begins rigging the classroom with all sorts of pranks. Miss Crabtree speaks to a little girl and asks what her father is doing (a random question?). "Twenty years" replies the girl. Meanwhile Brisbane approaches Dorothy and tells her the teacher is deaf and hands her a note to give to the teacher. Brisbane then encourages Wheezer and Stymie to refer to the teacher as 'Crabbie' and urges Sherwood not to recite a poem he is fond of to the teacher. The rather crude-sounding bell sounds and the children go into the classroom with the teacher. After being instructed to sit down all the kids suddenly spring up from their chairs after finding tacks on them. Round one goes to Brisbane!
The pranks continue when Brisbane somehow manages to make a car horn sound from outside the building by using two wires he has connected under his desk. Dorothy is the next up when she hands the teacher the note which reveals she is hard of hearing. A shouting match then ensues between the two of them with Miss Crabtree asking Dorothy several questions as Brisbane watches on with humour. Next it's Stymie and Wheezer who are called. As they try to speak the sound of the car horn distracts the teacher, who tries to maintain her composure but eventually sends Donald out to investigate. Sherwood takes centre stage as he attempts to recite his poem for the teacher despite being distracted by the now-annoying Brisbane who is later sent out of the room. Things get worse for the teacher when Pete (the dog) finds his way into the classroom through an open window. And even worse still when a bloody mule runs into the room!
Miss Crabtree chases the creature out of the classroom and then tries to force Brisbane to recite Sherwood's poem. When he refuses to do so she promptly expells him from the school, much to his delight. Brisbane goes to sit down by a river and reflects on what has just happened and how his actions will impact on his mother. Class continues as Brisbane sets up his own "Secret Order Of The Winking Eye" club. But the voice in his head urges him to learn the poem he rejected earlier. He returns to the teacher and begs for a second chance to redeem himself. As his punishment, he is asked to recite the poem in front of the whole class, who all laugh at him. His blushes are spared however when a skunk enters the classroom and all the kids run out holding their noses. The last shot is of Pete in close-up rolling his eyes!

Favourite bit
Wheezer's manipulation of the fruit vendor in trying to prove his point with Stymie. The perplexed look on Harry Bernard's face is rather comical!

Copyrighted December 17, 1931.
The 111th film in the series.
This release date is according to Richard Lewis Ward's A History Of The Hal Roach Studios, which makes it a Saturday release, as per normal for Roach films of this era. Maltin & Bann list it as a February 2, 1932 release.
The film opens with Miss Crabtree writing in her diary: "September 1931: Vacation is over - school starts today."
This was Kendall McComas's first of 8 Our Gang appearances. It was also June Marlowe's last film for Hal Roach.
Miss Crabtree asks Dorothy how old she is. Dorothy answers that she is six. This was actually true at the time of filming.
When Donald goes to find the man with the car horn for the second time he trips over the platform near the teacher's desk. This was probably scripted but repeat viewings of the scene do raise suspicion that it may have been a genuine accident that was left in the film?
My opinion
The first half of the film is setting up Brisbane's character as an annoying little brat. The second half of the film is irritating and loud for the most part. Also, when a new kid suddenly appears in the series such as Brisbane and makes such a bad impression, it comes off as arrogance and unlikeable. It's hard to find any thoughts of compassion or enthusiasm for his annoying character at all.

Kendall McComas
Matthew Beard
Bobby Hutchins
Sherwood Bailey
Dorothy DeBorba
Donald Haines
Betty Jane Beard
Patsy Britten
Bobbie Taylor
June Marlowe
Miss June Crabtree
Harry Bernard
Fruit vendor
Otto Fries
Lyle Tayo
Brisbane's mother
May Wallace
Wheezer's mother
Reggie Streeter

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book) (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner)
Matthew Lydick (identification of Betty Jane Beard)
Bob Peterson (info regarding Bobbie Taylor)

This page was last updated on: 07 March 2024