Helping Hands

film no. 202

technical details:

Production 2744.

Release no. C-391.

Filmed July 24 to August 1, 1941.

Released September 27, 1941. It was the 201st film in the series to be released, and the first of the 1941/42 season.

Copyrighted October 5, 1941, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP10767. Renewed October 10, 1968, with registration no. R445444. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2036.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 44 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Helping Hands".'

the crew:

Produced by M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated. For some reason, Jack Chertok and Richard Goldstone are not credited by Maltin & Bann, but they were in charge of the short subject department during this period.
Directed by Edward Cahn
This credit appears in the film.
Director of Photography: Jackson Rose, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Leon Bourgeau
This credit appears in the film.
Screen Play by Hal Law and Robert A. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial.
Art Director: Elmer Sheeley
This credit appears in the film.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Indicated in the opening title card.
Western Electric Sound System
As indicated in the film.
Approved by the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. Or more specifically, "Kernal Spanky." Nick calls him "Spinky." He organizes and runs the army.
Billy "Froggy" Laughlin as "Froggy"
Supporting role. Or more specifically, "Dr. Froggy." He examines the troops.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She's the "red cross nerse" and sings a song to inspire new recruits.
Mickey Gubitosi as "Mickey"
Supporting role. He's a "captin" and is in charge of half of the troops.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Supporting role. He's a "bugaler" in the army.
Edward Lewis
Supporting role. He's one of the main group in this film, and is a "bugaler" in the army.
James Gubitosi as "Nick"
Supporting role. He's a "lootinent" in the army, and is in charge of half the troops. I'm not quite clear on the character's full name, but phonetically, it's variously "Nick Alalapopolus" and "Nick Alapopolus."
Harvard Peck
Small part. He's the boy examined by Froggy.
Vincent Graeff
Small part. He's the "sentree" and shoots Spanky in the rear end. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Billy Ray Smith.
boy 186a as "Herb Schwartz" aka "Bert"
Small part. In a continuity error, Spanky calls him "Bert."
Leon Tyler
Small part. This is the Swedish boy. I'm not clear on his character name, but phonetically, it's "Abane Yonny Yonson."
Edward Soo Hoo as "Lee Wong"
Bit part. He's the Chinese boy that gives his name.
Freddie Chapman
Bit part. He complains to Nick about taking too long.
Mickey Laughlin
Bit part. Boy 186c keeps time on his head with a bat.
Raphael Dolciame
Bit part. A 1941 casting directory states that he appeared in this film. He's standing to the right of the boy that taps Mickey Laughlin on the head with a baseball bat.
Tommy Dee Miller
Extra. The 1941 directory states that he appeared in this film. He can be seen just to the left of Mickey as Spanky tells the boys to stop saluting so much.
Michael Miller
Extra. The 1941 directory states that he appeared in this film. It appears that he is to the far right in the scene where Spanky reprimands the boys for not saluting.
Ralph Hodges
Extra. The 1941 directory states that he appeared in this film. It looks like his face is shown to the upper right of Nick in the scene where the two group of soldiers have collided.
other kids
Small parts, bit parts and extras. The 1941 directory credits David Polonsky with appearing in this film, but I can't find him anywhere.
(1.) "Jose Gonzales."
(2.) The piano player accompanying Darla.
(3.) At least twenty more boys in the army. Maltin & Bann list Mickey McGuire, who sort of looks like the boy standing between Nick and Mickey as Spanky reprimands them for not saluting.
(4.) Eleven toddlers making up the Infantry Reserves.
(5.) At least two girls shown during Darla's song.
(6.) The boy in line at the post office.
(7.) At least two girls watching the parade.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears in the opening title.
other animals
Bit part. The only other animal in the film is the horse that Spanky, Froggy, Mickey, Buckwheat and Edward Lewis sit on.

the adults:

Sam Flint as "Major Sanford"
Small part. He visits the gang's army.
Byron Foulger as "Mr. Morton," the head of the civilian defense counsel
Small part. He advises the gang on how best to serve their country.
Joe Young as the clerk
Bit part. He sells stamps to Froggy.
Margaret Bert as Mickey's mom
Bit part. She gives Mickey a pan to donate to Uncle Sam.
man 202 as Buckwheat's dad
Bit part. He gives Buckwheat an old rubber inner tube.
Emmett Vogan as Darla's dad
Deleted bit part. In a scene cut from the finished print, he apparently has a part parallel to Margaret Bert's.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) The two uniformed men and two women watching the parade with Sanford and Morton. One of the women may be woman 182.
(2.) Sanford's chauffeur.
(3.) Three adults at the post office.
(4.) Perhaps twenty adults watching the parade.

the music:

"Our Gang" by David Snell
This is played over the opening titles. This is the earlier recording, used prior to "The Big Premiere" (no. 189). This is a medley of three songs:
(1.) "London Bridge" - The earliest reference to this nursery rhyme is in a play from 1659, and it was associated with children by 1720. It may derive from a part of the "Heimskringla" by Snorri Sturluson, which was composed around 1225.
(2.) "Mulberry Bush" - Also known as "So Early In The Morning" and "This Is The Way." It was probably originally called "Here We Go Round The Bramble Tree" in the mid 18th century, with the type of tree changed by inmates of Wakefield Prison, who exercised around a mulberry bush.
(3.) "The Farmer In The Dell" - This nursery rhyme is of uncertain origins.
"He's My Uncle" by Charles Newman and Lew Pollack
Published in 1940 with lyrics by Newman and music by Pollack. Introduced by Dick Powell on the "Maxwell House Coffee Time" Program. Abe Lyman & His California Orchestra had a number eleven hit with this song in 1940. In this film, it's sung by Darla.
"Chief Of Staff" by Dr. William Axt
This is the marching band music played during the parade and over the end title.
other music
The only remaining music is the cacophonous bugling played by Buckwheat and Edward Lewis.


Eight shooting dates went into the making of this film, from July 24 to August 1, 1941. It's likely that no shooting took place on Sunday, July 27th.

In the category of unseen characters is Spanky's brother "Bill." Also, there's Nick's siblings, "Gus," "Helen," and the twins "Hector" and "Nector."

The gang's army is called The Our Gang Army.

The gang lives in Greenpoint.

See page 236 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits.

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
bigshotjones (for solving the Vincent Graeff/Billy Ray Smith dilemma)

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