Series: Our Gang

Director: Gus Meins
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Louis McManus
Sound: William Randall

Stars: George McFarland, Matthew Beard, Scotty Beckett, Billie Thomas, Alvin Buckelew, Jerry Tucker
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 23 February 1935
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: G-28
Filming dates:
Rating: 5/10

Beginner's Luck

Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

Spanky's mother has invited all of her friends round to watch her boy recite part of a play and then announces he is going to be performing on the stage in an amateur night at the local theatre. The kids stop by at his window and mock Spanky for wanting to be an actor, but he insists it is his mother's idea. So the boys plan to sabotage Spanky's performance so that he doesn't win the top prize. Spanky's parrot overhears the plan and begins squawking about how he knows a secret, but Spanky soon shuts him up by putting a goldfish bowl over his head! Spanky arrives at the theatre and is told he will be going on first, to which Spanky objects and suggests the "sheep herders" go on first (referring to the Switzer brothers, dressed as singing cowboys). So, on they go and perform the their musical number as 'The Arizona Nightingales'.
Spanky, waiting in the wings back stage tries in vain to thwart being put onto the stage by being rude to the MC. Bonnie Lynn is next up on the stage, singing her Honolulu Baby number, followed by the five Meglin Kiddies, who are awkward, unco-ordinated and clumsy. The Cabin Kids, an all-black singing quintet take to the stage to do their song. At the end of it the children in the front row of the audience make their noise of appreciation with their whistles which results in the pianist losing his wig! [see favourite bit] Back stage Spanky gets chatting with Daisy Dimple, a young girl who tells him she wants to win first prize so that she and her mother can buy the dress she is wearing. Spanky is uninterested.
Daisy takes to the stage but is overcome with the pressure of performing she runs off back into her mother's arms. Spanky feels a bit bad for her but then decides that he now wants to win the prize. His mother tells his friends in the audience to cheer for him but they decide to continue in making life difficult for Spanky. Spanky comes on to the stage dressed up in his Roman outfit, complete with sword and shield but then falls over when the spotlight operator fails to pick him up. The kids fire pellets at him which Spanky deflectes with his shield. The crowd roar with laughter throughout.
Spanky's concerned mother looks on from behind the curtain but Spanky continues with his performance, determined to see it through and win the prize. The bombardment of pellets continues, fired from the kids in the front row, which hit Spanky's shield and also end up in the pianist's mouth. Spanky's mother has seen enough and threatens to pull her son off the stage but the MC wants the show to continue owing to the humorous reception Spanky is receiving. So she takes matters into her own hands and uses a long spiked stick from behind the stage to try and hook Spanky off but instead manages to poke out some of the stage lights and snag the pianist's wig with it. She does eventually drag Spanky off but at her own expense when her skirt becomes entanged in the hook and the curtain is raised by Spanky's grandmother, leaving her exposed on the stage in front of everybody. Spanky spares his mother's blushes at the end by covering her up with a board with a chicken painted on it.

Favourite bit
After several attempts from the kids in the front row to blow their horns and cause the music sheets to fly off the piano, the pianist (James C. Morton) gets one step ahead of them after the Cabin Kids song and goes to cover the sheets to prevent them from the same fate as before. Except this time it's his wig that flies off instead!

This was the 135th film in the series to be released.
Copyrighted April 8, 1935, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP5477. Renewed August 1, 1962, with registration no. R299650. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2030.
When Bonnie Lynn sings 'Honolulu Baby' it is both cute and cheesy at the same time!
This was the series debut for Carl Switzer and his brother Harold. Carl's first scene is with Spanky and his first words are "Those are fighting words, partner!"
My opinion
Excrutiatingly tedious until the final five minutes!

George McFarland
Matthew Beard
Scotty Beckett
Billie Thomas
Jerry Tucker
Kitty Kelly
Spanky's mother
May Wallace
Spanky's grandmother
Eileen Bernstein
Girl in audience
Sidney Kibrick
Merrill Strong
Boy in audience
Marianne Edwards
Daisy Dimple
Bonnie Lynn
Little girl singing
Carl Switzer
Arizona Nightengale
Harold Switzer
Arizona Nightengale
Freddie Walburn
Harmonica player
Charlie Hall
Stage hand
Tom Herbert
Master of ceremonies
Ruth Hiatt
Marianne's mother
James C. Morton
Piano player
Bess Flowers
Friend of Spanky's mother
Cecelia Murray
Girl in audience
Ernie Alexander
Audience member
Robert McKenzie
Audience member talking to pianist
The Cabin Kids
The Cabin Kids
Helen 'Precious' Hall
Performer - The Cabin Kids
James 'Darling' Hall
Performer - The Cabin Kids
Winifred 'Sugar' Hall
Performer - The Cabin Kids
Frederick 'Honey' Hall
Performer - The Cabin Kids
Ruth 'Sweetie' Hall
Performer - The Cabin Kids
The Meglin Kiddies
Floradora Dollies
Donald Proffitt
Our Gang member
Alvin Buckelew
Laura June Kenny
Floradora Dolly
Jackie White
Tap dancer
Fred Holmes
Man in audience
Jack 'Tiny' Lipson
Man in audience
Tommy McFarland
Boy in audience
Snooky Valentine

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner) (Wikipedia)
The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book)
Gene Sorkin (screenshot of Ruth Hiatt)
Bob Peterson (identification of Cecelia Murray)

This page was last updated on: 03 June 2022