Tale Of A Dog
Series: Our Gang

Director: Cyril Endfield
Producer: ?
Screenplay: Hal Law, Robert A. McGowan
Photography: Charles Salerno Jr.
Editor: Leon Bourgeau
Art director: Paul Youngblood

Stars: Robert Blake, Janet Burston, Billy Laughlin, Billie Thomas, Dickie Hall, Frank Lester Ward, Cordell Hickman, Emmett Vogan, Willa Pearl Curtis
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 15 April 1944
Length: 1 reel (sound short)
Production No.: 2866
Filming dates: October 4-7, 1943
Rating: 3/10


Big Shot is down by the railroad depot saying goodbye to his beloved dog, whom he can no longer afford to keep. Buckwheat joins him and offers to take the dog and look after it himself, despite giving it the unfortunate name of 'Smallpox'. When the rest of the gang overhear Buckwheat and Big Shot talking about them having 'Smallpox' Froggy makes a telephone call to the health official, who declares that Buckwheat and Big Shot ought to be isolated immediately. Concern for the boys extends to Buckwheat's mother phoning Mickey's mother and her asking to send her son home if she sees him. Meanwhile Buckwheat and Big Shot hold up in a barn with the dog.
In the store, a long queue begins to form outside the phone box where Janet, Mickey and Froggy have taken it over. Before long news has spread through the newspaper, radio and general gossip that smallpox has started to spread, (no) thanks to Buckwheat and Big Shot. Panic ensues with other gang members avoiding the 'infected' boys at all costs. Eventually tempers boil over in the long queue to use the telephone when one of the men takes matters into his own hands (although telling the kids they ought to be arrested is going a bit too far!) Janet tells the impatient crowd they were potential victims of the smallpox from the two boys who then walk into the store. Everybody runs out.
Froggy returns home to his concerned mother and after he leaves his thermometer under a dripping hot tap she immediately assumes he is sick. The health official visits Janet, and then Buckwheat to investigate the sudden supposed outbreak of smallpox until he discovers the truth about the dog and its name. The boys and Janet are given a stiff talking-to by the mayor who lets them off with a warning. So the kids decide not to cause any further confusion and promptly change the dog's name to.... Spotty.

Favourite bit
Buckwheat appears to be sick from 'smallpox' but when the health official asks why he is shaking Buckwheat replies that he is cold. Pulling back his blanket, it is revealed that he is covered in ice cubes! His mother reminds the health official that he told her to "ice-olate him"!

Copyrighted April 13, 1944.
This was the penultimate Our Gang film to be produced and the last to be released. It was the 219th short.
Released fourteen days after the previous film in the series, Radio Bugs.
Release number: MC-584.
The dialogue in the opening scene between Big Shot and Buckwheat is obviously dubbed. You can hear the acoustics in their voices which do not reflect the scene having been shot outdoors. You can also see very clearly their mouths do not match the spoken words on screen. Another example is when Froggy is on the phone to the health official. His mouth just doesn't match up with the dialogue.
What the experts say
"Pretty standard ten minutes of nothing followed by a preaching message by the mayor at the end." ~ Lord Heath.

Robert Blake
Billie Thomas
Buckwheat Thomas
Janet Burston
Billy Laughlin
Froggy Laughlin
Emmett Vogan
Dr. Parkson, health officer
Willa Pearl Curtis
Buckwheat's mother
Fern Emmett
Prissy gossiper #3
Anita Sharp-Bolster
Prissy gossiper #1
Dickie Hall
Dickie, small boy
Cordell Hickman
Big Shot Jones
Frank Lester Ward
Kid who grabs Dickie
Catherine Lewis
Froggy's mother
Margaret Bert
Joe's mother
Dorothy Neumann
Prissy gossiper #2


The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book)
Matthew Lydick (identification of Catherine Lewis and Anita Sharp-Bolster)

This page was last updated on: 28 August 2018