Series: All Stars

Director: Lloyd French
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Kenneth Peach
Editor: Bert Jordan
Sound: Warren B. Delaplain

Stars: Claudia Dell, Barbara Rogers, Billy Gilbert, Eddie Foy Jr, George McFarland
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 21 April 1934
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: B-7
Filming dates:
Rating: -/10

Mrs. Barnacle Bill

A group of six children are practicing their vocal talents with Professor William Gilbert (Billy Gilbert) but one of them (Our Gang star Scotty Beckett) suffers from flat notes. After some coaching, they are sent away by the tutor to come back next week. The nosey postman (Charley Rogers) delivers the professor a cheque for $50.00 (though Gilbert initially believes it is $5,000 - he mis-reads the decimal point and has to be corrected by his daughter, Claudia Dell). The postman wastes no time in telling everybody in the neighborhood about it.
A young widow (Barbara Rogers), who claims her husband, Barnacle Bill was lost as sea, arrives at the house with her brat kid (Spanky McFarland) to rent the property. She is greeted by Gilbert's son, Eddie (Eddie Foy Jr.) and shown inside.
Spanky wrecks havoc pulling out the inside of a mattress, and smashing lightbulbs with his sligshot. Eddie and the woman hit it off instantly, but his kid sister Claudia isn't as impressed with the new "gold-digger" guest and storms off to report to her father of her concerns (not before Spanky gets one accurate slingshot shot to her bum!) Eddie receives a lot of flirting and suggestive compliments from the widow and nervously makes an excuse to leave. Eddie returns to his house and helps himself to his father's mattress so that he can replace the damaged one for the widow. Professor Gilbert doesn't consent. Loudly. Gilbert storms over to see the widow, complaining that she may not live in his house for $15 a month (agreed upon between herself and Eddie). As he paces up and down the living room expressing his complaint the widow suddenly emerges from the bedroom dressed in.... well.... not much!
She flirts outrageously with the professor, leaving him all flustered when he returns home to face the interrogation from his son and daughter who have heard everything through the wall and are wondering why he hasn't received any rent from the widow. Gilbert examines himself in the bathroom mirror as Eddie mocks him with comments made by the widow. Claudia and Eddie takes matters into their own hands and go over to the widow to evict her, whilst the professor takes the unusual procedure of throwing the bed mattress out of the window (with him on it!) and gets an extra bit of help from Spanky when the kid shoots his slingshot at the professor, sending him through a picket fence.
Claudia confronts the widow and tells her to leave. The professor arrives with the mattress and upon hearing this reminds his daughter that he is the boss and that the widow can stay. Disgusted, Eddie and Claudia leave and form a plan to disguise Eddie as the widow's lost husband. The professor is left alone to bathe Spanky whilst his mother goes to the store (and flirts with the owner). Back at the house things haven't gone according to plan and it's Spanky giving the professor a bath (something not quite right about that!) when 'Barnacle Bill' (Eddie in disguise) appears at the window and threatens to kill the man inside who has been flirting with his wife. The professor appears, dressed as a woman to avoid being detected but then the widow returns and it all kicks off (literally!) The final scene has Billy Gilbert with a feather stuck up his nose and sneezing, which shoots the entire mattress of feathers into the air!

Favourite bit
Billy Gilbert is excited after he receives a cheque in the post, though mis-reads the amount it is for.

Gilbert: "A cheque for five thousand dollars!"
Claudia: "It's not five thousand, Dad, it's fifty"
Gilbert: "Oooo FIFTY thousand!"

Copyrighted April 17, 1934.
The opening scene where the children sing really needs subtitles!  I couldn't make out one word they sung any more than I could understand a word that came out of Billy Gilbert's mouth with that exaggerated accent of his!
Billy Gilbert states that the cheque he receives is "for the last payment on the piano".  But, I thought Billy Gilbert "hated and detested pianos?" (The Music Box - Laurel and Hardy).
When Billy Gilbert and Barbara Rogers are standing together in the living room, he definitely has a 'look' at her!
The scene where Billy Gilbert reminds everyone that he is the boss and that the widow can stay, we cut to a close-up of Barbara Rogers. Erm.... wow!
When Billy Gilbert is taking a bath, Eddie appears at the window. It's a bit strange how somebody would be able to look straight into the bathroom from outside the window without any curtains or frosted glass, given that a bathroom is a room of privacy.
My opinion
This is one of those rare films which I am glad exists, but it really doesn't offer much. Apart from that dress which Barbara Rogers squeezes into!

Claudia Dell
Claudia Gilbert
Barbara Rogers
Goldie, Barnacle Bill's wife,
(Spanky's mother)
Billy Gilbert
Professor William Gilbert,
voice culture
Eddie Foy Jr.
Eddie Gilbert
George McFarland
Kid with slingshot
Charley Rogers
Douglas Wakefield
Cab driver
Scotty Beckett
Child singer
Ed Brandenburg
Barnacle Bill (in photograph)


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Dave Stevenson (review copy)
George R. Dey, Rick Greene (help with the identification of Scotty Beckett)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Ed Brandenburg)

This page was last updated on: 21 April 2023