Series: Our Gang

Director: Robert A. McGowan
Producer: Hal Roach, Robert F. McGowan
Story editor: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Norman Chaney, Allen Hoskins, Jackie Cooper, Mary Ann Jackson, Bobby Hutchins
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 25 January 1930
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: G-29
Filming dates: September 30 - October 12, 1929
Rating: 4/10

Shivering Shakespeare

Available on DVD:

"The Gladiator's Dilemma" is a stage production being performed by the Our Gang kids. Mrs. Kennedy takes to the stage to introduce the show to the sound of raspberries being blown by Wheezer backstage. Mary 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 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 but after a long speech Jackie is taken away as a prisoner by the boy. A young girl 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 cries out from the audience for him to fight back. Chubby launches a pie at the bullies but instead hits a man 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 instead. Here we go!!!
A man 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 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
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.

Copyrighted December 17, 1929.
The 95th film in the series.
This film 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.
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!
There are sources that list Art Stevenson [as Musician], Vern Trimble [as Musician] and Carlton Griffin [as Man inside bull costume] as being in the film. These credits are disputed and are probably incorrect and therefore I have not included them in the cast list below.
There are sources that list Merta Sterling as an audience member who gets hit by a pie. This is actually Edna Hall.

Copied directly from The Lucky Corner website run by Robert Demoss:
The payroll ledger provides an exhaustive list of small parts, bit parts and extras. The following people worked on both Oct. 10th and 11th: Harry Bernard, Rene Whitney, Helen Muir, Marie Bernie, Hope Harper, Mildred Diescar, Loretta Palmer (listed by Maltin & Bann as Retta Palmer), James Youngdeer, Venice Jepperson, Tom Rice, Floyce Brown, Carl Wright, Edna Hall, Emelie Stone, Kitty Watson and Mrs. L. Karnes. Since they worked for two days, it's likely that these are the people seen in the closer shots, while the following people, who only worked on the 10th, probably only appear in the wide shots: Elsie Kirby, Doris Morton, Eddie Craven, Eugene Verdi, Jack Malone, M.G. McConnell, Mrs. William Mayberry, Evelyn Davidson, Verna Kornman, Narda De Wynn, Nada Remeriez, Peggy Ames, Tom Ryan, Joe Brunell, Mildred Fields, Faith Baldwin, Elizabeth Henry, Blanche Ogden, Leo Lance, Ida May, Mrs. Don Bailey, Betty Mason, Blanche O'Brien, Jessie Womack, Flo Craig, Leila Franke, Nora Bush, Mary Ames, Erna Bucklaw, Marcel Ansley, Albert Ogden, Lucille Ogden, Dolly Rollins, Jeanette Rollins, Hollie Gale, Albert Petrangle and Norma Wallace. All of the people mentioned so far were audience members, musicians and the girls selling sweets in the back of the theater. It should also be noted that Lyle Tayo did all of her work on Oct. 12th, and so did Helen Gilmore, seen directly behind her. To the right of the screen is a mystery woman who presumably also worked on the 12th, but the only other name given for that date is a man's: Robert Ogden. However, a very belated check was issued to the aforementioned Norma Wallace on Nov. 9th, so perhaps she's the one we see in the shot. There was also some belated work done on Oct. 22nd (or perhaps just a belated check) which involved either Charles McAvoy or Harry Arras. The two men inside the bull costume. Maltin & Bann credit Carlton Griffin with one of these roles, but he's nowhere to be found in the payroll ledger. Two names that are repeatedly paired up in the ledger are Clarence Wurtz and Perry Murdock, so I suspect it's them.
My opinion
Well I have to say the kids fail to shine in this very mediocre entry.

Norman Chaney
Allen Hoskins
Mary Ann Jackson
Mary Ann/Mary Annicus
Bobby Hutchins
Jackie Cooper
Harmon Tutt
Spy who arrests Jackie
Jerry McGowan
Dancing girl
Edith Fellows
Girl scared of elephant
Gordon Thorpe
Effeminate boy
Donald Haines
Jack McHugh
Tough kid leader
Johnny Aber
Tough kid
Fred Rollins
Boy in audience
Vernon Wizeman
Boy in audience
George Verricco
Boy in audience
Malcom Sebastion
Court magician
Georgie Billings
Douglas Greer
Turkey Egg, curtain puller
June Branon
Blonde girl
Betty Jane Graham
Blonde girl
Bradley Buster Slaven
Bobby Mallon
Lorraine Rivero
Brunette girl
George Ernest
[scenes possibly cut?]
Betty Jane Beard
[scenes possibly cut?]
Gertrude Sutton
Mrs. Funston Evergreen Kennedy
Edgar Kennedy
Lyle Tayo
Norman's mother
Fletcher Tolbert
Kid inside lion costume
Elizabeth Rhodes
Clara Guiol
Pie vendor
Charles McAvoy
Man whose son is splattered
Chris Lynton
Man who 'resents it'
Ham Kinsey
First man hit with pie
Hugh Saxon
Audience member
Pete Gordon
Audience member
Marvin Hatley
Harry Keatan
Man hit with pie
Helen Gilmore
Woman in audience
Charlie Hall
Pie thrower
Charles Lloyd
Man in audience
Retta Palmer
Woman in audience
Edna Hall
Woman hit with pie
Clarence Wertz
Man #1 in bull costume
Perry Murdock
Man #2 in bull costume

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book) (The Three Stooges) (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner) [Expanded cast list] (Our Gang Wiki)
Brent Seguine (identification of Harry Keatan)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Edna Hall)

This page was last updated on: 30 August 2023