Free Eats

film no. 112

technical details:

Production G-5.

Release no. C-435.

Filmed November 6 to 19, 1931. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared by Richard Currier on December 23, 1931.

Cutting continuity submitted January 13, 1932.

Copyrighted February 11, 1932, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP2839. Renewed March 5, 1959, with registration no. R232203. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2027.

Released February 13, 1932. It was the 112th film in the series to be released. This release date derives from both the 1977 edition of Maltin & Bann's book and Maltin's earlier The Great Movie Shorts. The 1992 edition gives the date as February 11, 1912. Also, Richard Lewis Ward's A History Of The Hal Roach Studios lists the release date as February 18, 1932.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "Free Eats".'

King World Productions episode no. 13, available in both colorized and original black-and-white versions.

the crew:

Produced by Robert F. McGowan for Hal Roach
This is the way Maltin & Bann put it. The film credits Roach as a presenter, with a separate credit reading "A Robert McGowan Production."
Directed by Raymond McCarey
This credit appears in the film.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film.
Dialogue by H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film.
Recording Engineer: Elmer Raguse
This credit appears in the film.
Animal Trainer: Harry Lucenay
He was Pete's owner and trainer.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Indicated in the opening title card.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Western Electric System
As indicated in the film.
studio personnel
general manager - Warren Doane was replaced in Nov. 1931 by Henry Ginsberg
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
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. The extra kids in this film were taught by Grace Chapman.
possible uncredited involvement
assistant direction - Probably Don Sandstrom.
writing - Robert F. McGowan probably headed story development, while Robert A. McGowan, Carl Harbaugh, Frank Terry, Raymond McCarey, Billy Gilbert and Charlie Hall may have been among the gag writers.
property department - Charles Oelze, Don Sandstrom, Thomas Benton Roberts and Bob Saunders were probably involved in this capacity.
titles - Louis McManus probably designed the main titles.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.

the kids:

the gang
Matthew "Stymie" Beard as "Stymie"
Featured role. He's initially the only one who hears the 'fidgets' talk.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Supporting role. He's given an extended scene in which he tells a story, and is seen off and on after that with the monkey. This was his series debut.
Kendall "Breezy Brisbane" McComas as "Brisbane"
Supporting role. He's basically the leader of the gang, and is the one that must be convinced that the babies can talk. The cutting continuity refers to him as "Breezy."
Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins as "Wheeze"
Supporting role. He seems to be second-in-command and is with Brisbane most of the time. Listed as "Wheezer" in the cutting continuity.
Dorothy "Echo" DeBorba
Small part. She has a few lines, and hears the babies talk as they're climbing through a window. Her name doesn't turn up in the dialogue, but is indicated in the cutting continuity.
Sherwood Bailey
Small part. He has a few lines, but is mostly an ensemble player in this film. His name doesn't turn up in the dialogue, but is indicated in the cutting continuity.

other kids
Donald Haines
Bit part. He's seen at a table getting cake shoved into his face.
Bobby Taylor
Bit part. He's at the same table to the left of Donald. This same kid played "Bobby" in "Readin' And Writin'." My identification of him as Bobby Taylor is partly due to the likelihood that the actor had the same name as the character. I've ruled out Bobby Nelson because of his absence from "Spanky," which includes Taylor in the cast, and I've ruled out Bobby Haines because of his inclusion in "Birthday Blues," which doesn't include Taylor in the cast.
Patsy Britten
Bit part. She seems to be the girl to the left of Bobby Taylor. Her work permit indicates that she worked on this film.
other kids
Extras. In addition to Donald Haines and Patsy Britten, the following kids worked on Nov. 11th, 12th, and 13th: Paul Godfrey, Roy Godfrey, Bobby Haines, Richard Kinsey, Margaret Slocum, Margaret King, Alice Raetz, Virginia Gilbert and Mildred Travers. There were also several kids that worked only on the 11th, which were Buzz Frazier, Barbara Jean Roach, Pauline Stegmiller, Marisky Stegmiller, Larry Dolan, Billy Melman, Fred Beery, Jack Wagner, Bobbie Nelson, Cullen Johnson, Tom Johnson, Jimmie Johnson, Jerry Madden, Robert Scholtland, Helen Levine, Bertha Levine, Carmencita Johnson and Phyllis Barry. Most notable among these would be whichever boy it is that shoves the cake in Donald's face. Jackie Williams also worked on Nov. 11th, though I suspect he was there to serve as Spanky's stand-in.

the animals:

Joe the Monk
Small part. This is presumably Joe, but possibly a different monkey. He's seen with Spanky.
Pete the Pup III as "Petey"
Small part. He's seen off and on throughout the film, but is given very little attention. Listed as "Pete" in the cutting continuity.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Tiny Lawrence as "Waldemar"
Featured role. He's the midget that does most of the talking, and gets into a wrestling match with Mr. Moran.
Clarence C. "Major Mite" Howerton as "Elmer"
Featured role. He's the smaller of the two midgets, and has a John Wayne voice. He steals jewelry while cuddling with various women.
Lillian Elliott as "Mrs. Stanford L. Clark"
Supporting role. Brisbane calls her "Old Lady Clark." She organizes the charity fete simply to advance her husband's political clout.
Billy Gilbert as the head of the family of thieves
Supporting role. He's the leader of the band of thieves.
Otto Fries as the detective
Supporting role. He's in charge among the cops, and loses his watch.
Paul Fix as "Elvira," the other thief
Small part. He's dressed as a woman and serves as the wife in the family of thieves.
Del Henderson as "Mr. Moran"
Small part. He wrestles with Waldemar to get his hundred dollar bill back.
May Wallace as Mrs. Clark's friend
Small part. She's usually paired up with Mrs. Clark.
Harry Bernard as "Flaherty"
Small part. He's the uniformed cop that arrests the bad guys in the end.
Ed Thomas as "Jenkins," the butler
Small part. He's listed in the ledger, and the butler who makes the phone call looks more like him than anybody else.
Estelle Ettere as "Estelle," one of the guests
Small part. The 1977 edition and Maltin's earlier book both list her as Belle Hare. She jumps up and down with Elmer.
Eleanor Fredericks as one of the guests
Small part. She's the woman with Estelle Ettere. This is probably who Maltin & Bann listed as Lilyan Irene, who isn't listed in the ledger.
Eddie Baker as the assistant detective
Bit part. He's seen with Otto Fries early in the film.
Betty Danko as the maid
Bit part. She's best seen at the beginning of the scene with Ettere and Fredericks.
Howard Truesdale as one of the guests
Extra. In the closeup of Paul Fix as the guests are complaining about their stolen jewelry, he's right behind her to the left.
Mary Emery as one of the guests
Extra. In the longshot of the complaining guests, she's directly between Paul Fix and May Wallace.
Ellinor Van Der Veer as one of the guests
Extra. She's listed in the ledger and appears to be the woman sitting on the left behind Elliott and Wallace as they cuddle with Major Mite.
Evelyn Burns as one of the guests
Extra. She's standing right behind May Wallace as the latter complains about the stolen jewelry.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras. Somebody named Raymond Lopez worked in the film for several days. There was a makeup artist with this name who, at least vaguely, resembles one or two of the men among the complaining guests. Charlie Hall and Jack Casey each worked for four days, though not at the same time. Aside from Truesdale, Burns, Van Der Veer and Emery, there were the following people, who worked only on Nov. 11th, 12th and 13th: M. G. McConnell, Thelma Peairs, Harry Bowen, Harlin St. Albin, Harry Turpin, Kath Wallace and Mona Monet. Working only on the 11th were Jack Wicks, Cecil Bruner, Ferris Taylor, Albert Petit, Jack Chefe, Marie Wiese, Jean Maize, Phoebe Rudd, Jean Fowler and Beth Hazelton.
(1.) The man that provides the voice of Elmer.
(2.) At least one additional maid and perhaps an additional butler.
(3.) The two motorcycle cops and the detective doing the driving when the cops arrive at the thieves' campsite. Some actual police officers are listed in the ledger, presumably to fill these roles and maybe provide some security to the movie set. These were Tom Lindsey, George O'Day, John C. Dunning and O. M. Langdon, who is listed in newspaper articles as O. M. Langdon, Jr. and as O. M. "Doc" Langdon.
(4.) The remaining guests at the fete.

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A1.) This is played over the opening titles and as we're introduced to the kids. The second verse is repeated as the babies are revealed to be midgets and the end title appears.
"Riding Along" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Dec. 23, 1930. The fast version of this piece is heard partially as the kids are talking and get up to leave. The more common version is played as Mr. Moran wrestles with Waldemar for his hundred dollar bill.
"Frühlingslied" aka "Spring Song" by Felix Mendelsohn
No. 6, Allegretto grazioso in A major, from Opus 62, "Songs Without Words" for piano, Book 5. The six songs of this opus were written between 1842 and 1844. This is played on the piano by Mrs. Clark as she's talking with May Wallace.
"Nothing At All" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Aug. 13, 1931. A short part of the beginning of this piece is played as we're introduced to the thieves.
"Antics" by Leroy Shield
A short part of the beginning of this piece is played as Billy Gilbert considers having the midgets attend the fete. The same part is played as the thieves start arguing with each other. Most of the piece is played as Wheezer and Dorothy discover that the babies can talk.
"Hurry" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted 1931. This is briefly played as the cops arrive at the thieves' campsite.
"Dash And Dot" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted 1930. This is played as the midgets steal the detective's watch. Most of it is repeated as Mrs. Clark and her friend pick up Elmer. Half of it is repeated as the butler struggles with Elmer.
"On To The Show" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. A relatively slow version of this tune is played as the kids arrive at the thieves' campsite.
"Give Us A Hand" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Aug. 4, 1931. The beginning of this piece is played the first time Stymie tells Brisbane that the babies can talk. The same portion is repeated at the end of the scene with Elmer and Estelle and her friend.
"Bride's Song" by Leroy Shield
Most of this piece is played as Brisbane first talks to Spanky.
"Wishing" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. The second half of this piece is played as Spanky finishes his story. A short part is repeated as Spanky cuddles with the monkey.
"Little Dancing Girl" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Also known as "All The World (To Me)." This is played during the initial shots at the fete. It's repeated as Elmer is with Estelle and her friend. This is the version reproduced on the first Beau Hunks CD.
"Candy Candy" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Dec. 23, 1930. This is played twice through as Billy Gilbert retrieves Waldemar and rejoins the other thieves.
piece 111
This effect piece is played and repeated several times as everybody realizes their jewelry is missing.
"Sliding" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Aug. 13, 1931. Also known as "Swells." This is played and partially repeated as the kids overtake the midgets.
"Prelude" by Leroy Shield
A portion of this is played as the cops arrive to arrest the thieves and the kids.


12 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Three and a half weeks had passed since shooting finished for "Readin' And Writin'" (no. 111). The studio was closed during one of those weeks. The 'start' date for "Free Eats" arrived on Nov. 6th, and shooting continued until the 'finish' date of Nov. 19th. No shooting took place on Nov. 8th or 15th, which were both Sundays. Ray McCarey directed on each of the shooting dates. After this, three and a half weeks passed before the Our Gang unit began shooting "Spanky" (no. 113). The studio was closed during one of those weeks.

Patsy Britten's work permit reveals that she worked on Nov. 11, 12 and 13.

The gang's club is called the Frog Pond Country Club.

Is the newspaper held by Brisbane at the beginning of the film the Examiner?

Reel two begins as Elmer is passed from one woman to the other.

A story version of this film, entitled "Free-Eats," appeared in the book Our Gang Annual in 1933.

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B427.

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number and shooting dates)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Bryan Bishop (for identifying "Spring Song")
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)

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