Doin' Their Bit

film no. 208

technical details:

Production 2771. The script is numbered B4876.

Release no. C-398.

Filmed March 27 to 31, 1942.

Cutting continuity submitted June 13, 1942.

Copyrighted July 9, 1942, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP11471. Renewed July 9, 1969, with registration no. R464890. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2037.

Released July 18, 1942. It was the 208th film in the series to be released.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 56 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Doin' Their Bit".' The end title is superimposed over the last shot in the film.

the crew:

Produced by M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated. Jack Chertok and Richard Goldstone were still running the short subject department during this period, and okayed the script.
Directed by Herbert Glazer
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 Sam Baerwitz
He's not credited in the film, but he wrote the script.
Dances by Bud Murray
This credit appears in the film.
Art Director: Richard Duce
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
Certificate no. 8108.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

George "Spanky" McFarland
Featured role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He plays the sergeant in his skit with Froggy, who calls him "Sarge." He also represents the United Kingdom in "The Allies On Parade" sequence.
Billy "Froggy" Laughlin
Featured role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's the private in the comedy skit with Spanky and also represents Norway in the final sequence.
Janet Burston
Featured role. She sings a song and also makes an announcement to the troops. Later, she represents India.
Mickey Gubitosi
Supporting role. He's in the main group of kids, but is not given much to do during the show, playing the bugler during the comedy skit, and later representing Mexico.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's in the main group of kids, but is not given much to do during the show, appearing during Janet's number as a porter and later representing Haiti.
Beverly Hudson as "Miss Liberty"
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann assign the character name of "Miss Liberty," which may come from the script, but isn't in the film. She sings the final song.
Vincent Graeff
Small part. He's the taxi driver during Janet's number, and I think he may be the boy representing Poland. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Billy Ray Smith.
Freddie Chapman
Small part. He's the messenger boy (or something like that) during Janet's number, and later represents the Union of South Africa.
Lawrence Long, Jr.
Small part. He's the milkman during Janet's number, and later represents Uruguay.
Freddie Walburn
Small part. He represents Free France.
Valerie Lee
Small part. She represents Luxembourg.
Edward Soo Hoo
Small part. I could be wrong, but it looks like that's him representing China.
other kids
Small parts and extras. Maltin & Bann list Jackie Salling (listed in the 1992 edition as Jackie Sailing), but I can't find him anywhere.
(1.) During Janet's number, there are twelve boys in military uniforms, as well as a janitor, a conductor, a cop, a milkman, and a mailman. At least one of these boys is included in the final number (the one Janet pokes in the belly), and perhaps all of them. The conductor might be Billy Finnegan, as listed by Maltin & Bann.
(2.) In addition to the kids named above, there are thirty kids in "The Allies On Parade" sequence, including at least one of the boys from Janet's number, and perhaps the others as well. The remaining countries represented are the United States, Russia, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Phillipines (this is the way it's spelled in the film) and Venezuela. The boy representing Russia is the same boy that Janet pokes in the belly during her opening number.
(3.) There is at least one kid in the audience, a girl in an aisle seat shown in the first shot of the audience.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Walter Wills as "Mr. Wills"
Small part. He's shown at the start of the film listening to the radio and asking the kids to put on the show.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) "Mayor Bradbury," heard on the radio.
(2.) The radio announcer.
(3.) At least seventy adults in the audience.

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.
"Opening And Military March" by Lennie Hayton and Sol Kaplan
This is the piece that's played as the audience is entering the gymnasium and as the uniformed boys do the opening number.
"I Love A Man In A Uniform" by James Monaco, Billy Rose and Ballard MacDonald
Music by Monaco with lyrics by Rose and MacDonald. Published by Jerome H. Remick. From "Harry Delmon's Revels." This is sung by Janet.
"The Reveille"
Listed in the cutting continuity as "Bugle Call." Mickey plays this on the bugle at the start of Froggy and Spanky's skit.
"Morning Effect" by Lennie Hayton
This piece opens up the skit entitled "A Day In Camp."
"Call To Quarters"
Listed in the cutting continuity as "Bugle Call." Mickey plays this on the bugle at the end of the skit.
This is the fanfare played at the end of Froggy and Spanky's skit.
"The Flag Of Freedom" by Lennie Hayton and Ralph Freed
This is the song sung by Beverly Hudson during "The Allies On Parade" sequence. It continues into the end title.
musical references
During his skit with Spanky, Froggy mentions "The Hut-Sut Song (A Swedish Serenade)" by Leo V. Killion, Ted McMichael and Jack Owens, with which Freddy Martin & His Orchestra had a number two hit in 1941.


Five shooting dates went into the making of this film, from March 27 to 31, 1942. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
Jan. 22 - A Sam Baerwitz script entitled "Doin' Their Bit" derives from this date, and was okayed by Jack Chertok and Richard Goldstone. Needless to say, there wasn't much to it. It largely amounts to a list of the segments: "I Love A Man In A Uniform," "A Day In An Army Camp" and "The World On Parade." There was also a dialogue continuity deriving from this date, also by Baerwitz. Listed as the 'reader' was somebody named N. Farber.
Mar. 10 - A script segment entitled "A Day In An Army Camp" Segment was finished by Baerwitz on this date, providing the dialogue for that particular part of the film.

The show is called "Welcome Soldiers," and is put on by Our Gang's Junior U. S. O. and held at the Greenpoint Gymnasium.

Walter Wills is listening to station GXK at the start of the film. This would necessarily be a fictitious radio station, as none of the callsigns issued in North America begin with the letter "G."

Spanky and Froggy's skit is called "A Day In Camp."

As the kids with the country flags are all in position and their platforms separate into two parts, you can see the morse code for the letter "V" at the bottom of the picture. During WWII, this, of course, stood for "Victory." This dot-dot-dot-dash turns up in a lot of films from this era, often accompanied by the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (but not here).

See page 236 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits. This was the first of the MGM shorts to suffer a net loss.


The Our Gang Collection (5 DVD-R set) from Warner Home Video
Released Sep. 1, 2009. This is from the WB Archive Collection and available in a limited edition.

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
bigshotjones (for solving the Vincent Graeff/Billy Ray Smith dilemma)
Steven Wright (for connecting the Russian boy with Janet's opening number, and for the extra info on station GXK)

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