The Spanking Age

film no. 80

technical details:

Production G-14.

Filmed July 2 to 14, 1928. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared by H. M. Walker on July 23, 1928.

Silent cutting continuity for original three-reel version submitted July 28, 1928.

Silent cutting continuity for two-reel version submitted August 16, 1928, with the message: "This is the corrected continuity on 'The Spanking Age.' This copy will take the place of the one you already have."

Music and sound effects recorded Oct. 5, 1928.

Copyrighted December 15, 1928, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP25918. Renewed February 17, 1956, with registration no. R164993. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2023.

Released December 15, 1928. It was the 80th film in the series to be released.

Music cue sheet dated April 18, 1929.

Silent two-reeler with synchronized music track and sound effects, on disc only.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "The Spanking Age".'

the crew:

Produced by Robert F. McGowan for Hal Roach
The film credits Roach as the presenter, and also reads "A Robert McGowan Production." Maltin & Bann credit Roach only.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without his middle initial.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film. Currier also prepared the soundtrack while at the Victor headquarters in New York.
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film.
Story by Robert F. McGowan
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Animal Trainer: Harry Lucenay
He was Pete's owner and trainer.
Music performed by the Motion Picture Orchestra
According to the Victor ledgers, as described at the DAHR website. The musical director was Josef Pasternak. For reel 1, Bradley Barker is listed as a vocalist, while Mrs. E. M. Grerilich, June Grerilich and Reba Merritt are listed as speakers. For reel 2, Bradley Barker is listed as a speaker.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Indicated in the opening title.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
studio personnel
director-general - Leo McCarey
general manager - Warren Doane
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
optical effects supervisor - Roy Seawright
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
school teacher - Fern Carter was probably away from the studio while this film was being made. However, the payroll summaries reveal that she received her salary during this period.
possible uncredited involvement
assistant direction - Probably Charles Oelze.
cutting - Possibly Lloyd Campbell.
writing - Robert A. McGowan, Jean Yarbrough and Charlie Hall may have been among the gag writers.
property department - Charles Oelze, Don Sandstrom and Thomas Benton Roberts were probably involved in this capacity.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.

the kids:

Mary Ann Jackson as "Mary Ann"
Lead role. She decides to throw a party since she's not able to go along with spoiled Jean.
Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins as "Wheezer"
Lead role. He assists Mary Ann in preparing for the party.
Jean Darling
Supporting role. She's shown at the beginning and at the end, and is the spoiled rich girl.
Joe Cobb
Supporting role. He appears only in the last quarter of the film, and is given a lot of attention during the meal.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Supporting role. He's also given a lot of attention during the meal.
Harry Spear
Small part. He's present during the meal, but isn't given too many specific things to do.
Paralee Coleman
Small part. She's the black girl at the table, but isn't given much to do.

the animals:

Pete (no. 1)
Supporting role. He's featured throughout the film reacting to various things. The cutting continuity refers to him as "Petie."
cat 080
Small part. This is the tabby that's at the end of the abuse chain, so he gets kicked by Pete.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Small parts and bit parts.
(1.) The sandcrab that gets into the shrimp salad.
(2.) The chicken that Wheezer removes to get at the eggs.

the adults:

Lyle Tayo as the stepmother
Supporting role. According to Maltin & Bann, who presumably have viewed a photo revealing her face. In the film, she's only seen from the waist down. She's a mean stepmother, and abusive to her husband.
other adults
Supporting roles and bit parts.
(1.) The kids' father, named "Thomas E. Brown."
(2.) The salesman in the kilt, with the name "MacIntosh" on his briefcase.
(3.) The salesman with the name "Dr. Jenkins" on his briefcase.
(4.) The cop who escorts the gang out of the house.
(5.) The woman on the sidewalk talking to the cop.

the music:

The music cue sheet is dated April 18, 1929, with the initials E.C.M. Another date appears on the sheet, Nov. 7, 1928, with the initials E.R.P. The former date is connected to the cue sheet number, so I'm guessing that the version of this film with the soundtrack was released a bit later than the silent version. The music cue sheet lists the musical pieces in the order in which they appear in the film, including those instances where a piece is repeated. Because of this, I think the way I've described the action that accompanies each piece of music is fairly accurate, though it's still guesswork. The cue sheet also states whether a tune is used partially or in its entirety. On the list below, each song is a partial version, unless otherwise noted.

"That Old Gang Of Mine" by Ray Henderson
Written in 1923 with lyrics by Billy Rose and Mort Dixon. This is played over both the opening and ending titles, and is the only piece that also appears in the Blackhawk print.
"Mary Ann" by Abner Silver
Published in 1928 with lyrics by Benny Davis. Cliff Edwards had a number three hit with this song the same year. An instrumental version is played right after the opening titles as we're introduced to Mary Ann. It's then played in the last scene before the gang arrives, while Mary's baking the cake. It returns again during the final scene when Mary Ann and Wheezer come down the stairs wearing nice clothes.
"Little Bo Peep" by Victor Herbert
This is presumably "Never Mind Bo Peep," which later turned up in the soundtrack of "When The Wind Blows" (no. 97). It was published in 1903 as part of "Babes In Toyland," with lyrics by Glen MacDonough. It appears that this must have been played as Mary Ann and Wheezer use the pulley to get at the cake on the shelf.
"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. The cue sheet credits the arrangement to Josef Pasternack. In this film, the song is almost certainly played when Mary Ann falls to the kitchen floor, cake and all.
"Ill At Ease" by H. Maurice Jacquet
This is probably a short effect piece, which seems to coincide with the mother's arrival, first after Mary pulls the cake down with her, and then again after the kids' dad arrives home the first time. This second instance includes a complete version of the piece.
"M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means The World To Me)" by Theodore Morse
Published in 1915, with lyrics by Howard Johnson. Henry Burr had a number one hit with this song in 1916. This piece is played the first time the mother punishes Mary, and then is played again when she punishes her husband.
"You Gotta Stop Kicking My Dog Around" by Cy Perkins
This traditional song is attributed to Perkins on the cue sheet. The lyrics were written by Webb M. Oungst. The cue sheet also lists it simply as "Stop Kicking My Dog Around," but there are also many other title variations, such as "Ya Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Around." This tune accompanies those moments when Mary, unable to retaliate against Jean or her mother, kicks or slaps Wheezer, who then does the same to Pete, with Pete in turn doing the same to the cat. The tune shows up four times, with the third being the briefest, since the mother slaps Mary with no chain reaction following.
"Smarty" by Albert Von Tilzer
Published in 1908. Ada Jones and Billy Murray had a number two hit with this song the same year. It's played in its entirety and partially repeated during Jean's first scene. In fact, it seems to be Jean's theme in the film, as it returns as Jean and Mary make faces at each other, and again when Jean and her mother return home to see the Gang at the dining room table.
"Everybody Works But Father" by Jean Havez
Published in 1905. Billy Murray had a number one hit with this song in early 1906. This tune is played when the father first comes home, and is repeated when he returns home later in the film.
"Two Little Dirty Hands" by Edwards
This obscure tune is probably played as Mary Ann and Wheezer lament the loss of their real mother.
"Garden Frolics" by Josef Pasternack
This tune is played in its entirety and partially repeated, so it probably covers quite a bit of ground in the film. Presumably, it includes the scene where Pete licks up the cake with the coal oil on it, and then goes outside to the garbage bin. It probably also covers the footage in which the mother gives orders to Mary and the two kids decide to throw their own party.
"Baby Bumps His Knee" by Hugo Riesenfeld
This tune is probably played as Mary is putting ingredients into the bowl.
"Twilight Sketches" by Frederick A. Williams
This tune is probably played as Mary drops the eggs down to Wheezer.
"A Love Lesson - Op. 16" by Joen Fresco
Published circa 1925. This is probably played as Mary finds the limburger and Pete buries it in the yard.
"Chicken Reel" by Joseph M. Daly
Published in 1910. Also known as Performer's Buck. Lyrics were added by Joseph Mittenthal in 1911. Frank Stanley & Byron Harlan had a number 4 hit with this song the same year. This tune is undoubtedly played during the scene with Wheezer and the chicken.
"Impish Elves" by Gaston Borch
Published in 1918. This tune is probably played as Wheezer returns to the kitchen and breaks the eggs.
"Merry Pranks" by Erno Rapee and William Axt
Published in 1923. This tune is probably played during the scene with the door-to-door salesmen.
"Hail Hail The Gang's All Here (What The Deuce Do We Care)" by Theodore Morse and Arthur Sullivan
Published in 1917 with lyrics by D. A. Esrom. Morse adapted the tune from a melody contained within the portion of Act II of The Pirates Of Penzance normally referred to as "With Cat-Like Tread." This 1879 comic opera was written by Sullivan, with a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. A smaller bit of this Sullivan melody had been used in the 1915 song "Alabama Jubilee," which is where the line "hail, hail, the gang's all here" comes from. In this film, it undoubtedly is played as the gang arrives at the house.
"Hi-Diddle-Diddle" by Carleton A. Coon and Hal Keidel
Published in 1926. This tune is played partially, and then played in its entirety and partially repeated, so it probably covers the entire shrimp salad sequence.
"Cut Yourself A Piece Of Cake (And Make Yourself At Home)" by Billy James
Published in 1923. Ted Lewis and His Band had a number five hit with this song the same year. It was revised by Theodore Morse, whose name often appears in the credit. This is undoubtedly played during the cake-eating scene.

music in alternate prints
The music listed below appears on the soundtrack to the Blackhawk print. Since the music cue sheet lists differing titles from those on the Blackhawk print, we can assume that Blackhawk did not have access to the original disc recording and pieced together their soundtrack from other late silent Roach films. Notable among these would be "Wiggle Your Ears" (no. 84), the soundtrack for which shows up in clumps on the Blackhawk soundtrack for "The Spanking Age," complete with ear-wiggling sound effects. There is also an audible scratch on the disc during "My Man" which occurs in both films. Most of the "Wiggle Your Ears" tunes are identified, but very few of the others, so there are a lot of 'piece 080' entries.
"That Old Gang Of Mine" by Ray Henderson
Written in 1923 with lyrics by Billy Rose and Mort Dixon. This version is an instrumental. This is played over the opening titles.
"L'Amour de l'Apache" by Jacques Offenbach
Also known as "Apache Love." This waltz is played over the first text title and while Mary is eating the cake. This first version is the same as the first version in "Wiggle Your Ears." A second version is played as Jean walks in, and is the second version from "Wiggle Your Ears."
"Mon Homme" by Maurice Yvain
Also known as "My Man." English lyrics were added by Channing Pollack in 1920. Performed in the Ziegfeld Follies by Fanny Brice in 1921. An instrumental version is played as Wheezer eats the cake, and ends abruptly as the next piece starts. This first version is the same as the first version in "Wiggle Your Ears." A second version is played while Wheezer discovers the sandcrab crawling on the floor, but is ended abruptly. This same version is played again as Pete is interacting with the sandcrab and Mary starts serving the cake, and is the same as the second version in "Wiggle Your Ears."
piece 080a
This is played as Wheezer is still eating the cake and while Mary has a second helping, and slows down as the mother opens the door.
piece 080b
This is an effects piece that's played as the mother discovers what Mary and Wheezer have been doing. After Wheezer runs behind the counter, a variation of this effects piece is played as Mary gets spanked and the mother puts coal oil on the cake. A very short bit of this music is played as Mary slumps to the floor after being slapped.
piece 080c
A small part of this piece is played briefly as Wheezer runs behind the counter. Another part is played as Mary kicks Wheezer and Wheezer kicks Pete. Still another part is played as Mary laughs after the stepmother slips and gets slapped for it.
piece 084a
The tag end of the first version from "Wiggle Your Ears" is played as Pete kicks the cat. The second version from that film is played as the mother is talking to Mary, with the end effect as she slips on the floor.
"La Coquette" by Erno Rapee and Dr. William Axt
This is played as Jean slaps Mary and the chain reaction occurs and they make faces at each other. A short part of it is played as the mother pulls Mary out from behind the counter. Another very short piece of this is played as Pete first starts interacting with the sandcrab.
"Dance Of The Jacks" by Poldini
Also known as "Danse des Valets." This piece is played as the father walks in and as the mother is hitting plates over his head. The end is cut off abruptly.
piece 084e
This is a very short piece with harmonizing violins very much in the style of "Wishing" by Leroy Shield. It's played as Mary wishes they had their real mother.
piece 084c
This is played as Wheezer talks about their real mother being with the angels.
"Sympathy" by Rudolf Friml
Also known as "Sympathy Waltz." Debuted in the Broadway operetta "The Firefly" in 1912, with lyrics by Otto Harbach and Gus Kahn. Walter Van Brunt and Helen Clark had a number one hit with this song in 1913. An instrumental version is played in this film as Pete eats the tainted cake and Mary takes orders from the mother.
"The Whistler And His Dog" by Arthur Pryor
Published in 1905. In this film, a portion of the song is played as Mary takes orders from the mother and looks are exchanged between Mary and Jean. This is a different section than the familiar part heard in "The Pinch Singer" (no. 143).
"Like A Real Man" by Victor Herbert
This is played as Mary has the idea to throw her own party. It returns briefly as Mary gives Pete a taste of the food.
"(A) Little Girl At Home" by Victor Herbert
Debuted in the operetta "The Lady Of The Slipper" in 1912, with lyrics by James O'Dea. Harry MacDonough and Marguerite Dunlap had a number eight hit with this song in 1913. An instrumental version is played in this film during the cake-making scene. The bell effect from "Wiggle Your Ears" is missing, but there is still a pause in that spot.
"Don't Cry" by Ted Fio Rito
This is played as Mary gives Wheezer a taste of the batter and then climbs up to get some eggs.
"Flirtation" by Sommer
Part of this piece is played as Mary drops eggs down to Wheezer. Another part is played as Farina first notices the sandcrab, where it's interspersed with "Music Box."
"Animal Cartoonix" by Morris Aborn
The first half of this piece is played as Mary drops eggs down to Wheezer and then slips on the floor. The ear-wiggling sound effect is included.
"Marionette" by Felix Arndt
Published in 1914. This arrangement is by J. S. Zamecnik. This is played as Mary orders Wheezer to get eggs from the barn and then kicks him. He then kicks Pete.
"Heartbroken And Lonely" by Con Conrad and Sam Coslow
Published in 1928 with lyrics by Saul Bernie. An instrumental version is played in this film as Pete kicks the cat, and as Mary throws the limburger out the window and Pete buries it. The opening part as heard in "Wiggle Your Ears" is missing.
"Flapperette" by Jesse Greer
Published in 1926. This was a number six hit for Nat Shilkret in 1927. It's played as Wheezer enters the barn and tries to remove the hen from its nest. It's played again as Wheezer goes back into the kitchen.
"Me-ow" by Mel B. Kaufman
This is played while Wheezer is taking the eggs and getting pecked by the hen.
"The Vamp" by Byron Gay
Published in 1919. Also known as "Vamp A Little Lady." Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra had a number 3 hit with this song in 1919, with vocals by Billy Murray and Harry Macdonough. This is played during the sequence with the door-to-door salesmen. The wedding bell sound effect from "Wiggle Your Ears" has been mostly edited out.
piece 080d
This is played as Wheezer hits the salesman on the foot with a hammer and appears in the middle of "The Vamp."
piece 080e
This is played while Wheezer interacts with the sandcrab and Mary puts the cake in the oven.
piece 080f
A very short part of this piece is played as Pete barks at the oven.
piece 080g
This is played as Mary puts shaving cream on the cake, greets the gang and everybody takes a seat.
piece 080h
This is played as the gang first tastes the salad.
"Music Box" by Paul Lincke
This is played as Farina discovers the sand crab, and appears in the middle of "Flirtation."
"Tin Ears" by Zefros and Wall
The spelling of Zefros' name is unconfirmed. This is played as Joe encourages Farina to eat the sandcrab.
"Jealous" by Jack Little, Tommy Malie and Dick Finch
This is played as Farina changes his mind and hands the sandcrab over to Joe, who has second thoughts. The ear-wiggling sound effect is included. The song was featured in Hugh J. Ward's Christmas Fairy Pantomime Cinderella. It was a number three hit for Marion Harris in 1924.
piece 080i
This is played as everybody has puckered mouths.
"Ain't We Got Fun" by Richard Whiting
Written in 1921 with lyrics by Gus Kahn and Raymond B. Egan. This version is an instrumental. This is played as the father returns home after selling his patent.
piece 080j
This is played as the father and two kids celebrate, and the mother and Jean return to find the gang at the table and summon the cop. Then Mary and Wheezer come down the stairs in nice clothes.
"Toddling" by Erno Rapee and Dr. William Axt
An edited version of this is played as the cop escorts the gang out of the house and the father and his two kids walk out on the mother and Jean.
piece 084h
This is a very brief ending piece played as Mary and Wheezer walk backwards into a cactus.


11 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Only four days after shooting finished for "School Begins" (no. 79), the 'start' date arrived for "The Spanking Age" on July 2nd. Shooting continued until the 'finish' date of July 14th. No shooting took place on July 1st or 8th, which were both Sundays, nor on July 4th, which was Independence Day. Robert F. McGowan was the director on each of the shooting dates. Five days after shooting finished, the Our Gang unit began filming "Election Day" (no. 81).

Both cutting continuities reveal an inter-title that shows up directly before the one we're used to seeing first: "The story of two little step-children - Mary Ann and Wheezer."

In both versions of the film, each reel originally opened with the message: "This reel is properly marked for sound effect."

In the original three-reeler, which was presumably shown in previews, the first reel ends with "We need eggs - lots of eggs." In the two-reel version, the first reel doesn't end until "Go to the barn and get some more eggs." The second reel in the original three-reeler ends with "I'm wonderin' if he'll wiggle all the way down." The third reel was actually pretty short, judging by the continuity, and shots from all over the film were deleted to whittle it down to two reels. In the original version, Jean tells Mary "My mama says your papa is a poor fish," to which Mary replies "I'll say he was a sucker to marry your mama!" It's at this point that Jean slaps her.

The 16-inch disc masters containing the music and sound effects were Victor matrix MVE-47625 (for reel 1) and Victor matrix MVE-47626 (for reel 2). The Victor ledgers don't indicate the presence of a third reel. The takes were all recorded at the Church Bldg. in Camden, NJ. The takes for reel 1 were numbered 1A, 2A, 3, and 3A, though the master take isn't indicated. The orchestra was made up of 28 men. The ledgers mention "shouting by Mrs. E. M. Grerilich and Miss June Grerilich, effects by B. Barker. Talking and shouting by Miss Reba Merritt." They also describe takes 3 and 3A of reel 1 as being "Audible by children only." The takes for reel 2 were numbered 1, 2, 2A, and 3A, though the master take isn't indicated. These, too, involved an orchestra of 28 men. This reel contained "Dog and hen effects by B. Barker and children also used. Note: Requested by Messrs. Porter and Currier that all effects be exaggerated in this picture." For both reels, the ledgers use the word "Audible" to indicate that the soundtrack contains dialogue and/or closely synchronized sound.

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B615.


Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 2 (VHS) from HenryButch
This copy includes the original opening titles, crew credits and inter-titles, but an end title by Blackhawk Films. The picture quality is fairly good. The print totals 19:57, with 19:52 of it original footage. It appears that almost all of the original film is included, though at least one inter-title is missing.
Rascals Silents Vol. 5 (VHS/DVD) from A-1 Video
This is a home movie print from Blackhawk Films, but with a different soundtrack. In fact, the first eight minutes is made up of piano versions of Leroy Shield tunes. The rest is somewhat more generic. The picture quality is fair, and is tinted. The footage totals 25:29, with 25:24 of it original.

special note
There's a European video release of this film lasting 20:32. The titles are all remade, with the object of making them appear original. However, the font is not quite the same as on the original prints, and there are one or two mistakes. Music is provided by the Beau Hunks with sound effects.

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Piet Schreuders (for providing info from the music cue sheet, and for providing the names of the tunes derived from the "Wiggle Your Ears" soundtrack)
Henry Sorenson (for providing info about the European video release of this film)
Rob Stone (for providing the production number and shooting dates)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Paul Fitzpatrick (for identifying "Jealous" and "Toddling")
Robin Cook (for identifying "The Vamp," "My Man" and "The Whistler And His Dog")
Ed Slonina (for pointing out the DAHR website containing the sound-on-disc info)

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