Mama's Little Pirate

film no. 132


technical details:

Production G-25.

Release no. C-23.

Filmed probably in November 1934.

According to Maltin & Bann, this film was released on November 3, 1934, making it the 132nd film in the series to be released. However, new information regarding production dates for other Our Gang films from this period makes it clear that the film was released closer to its date of copyright. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted January 5, 1935, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP5260. Renewed August 1, 1962, with registration no. R299641. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2030.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "Mama's Little Pirate".'

King World Productions episode no. 40b, available in both colorized and original black-and-white versions.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Gus Meins
This credit appears in the film.
Photography: Art Lloyd, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Bert Jordan
This credit appears in the film.
Recording Engineer: James Greene
This credit appears in the film.
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.
NRA
The National Recovery Administration emblem is shown in both the opening and end titles.
studio personnel
general manager - Henry Ginsberg
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
film editor and sound department - Elmer Raguse
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
process department - Roy Seawright
musical director - Marvin Hatley
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
school teacher - Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
assistant direction - Probably Gordon Douglas.
writing - Hal Yates, Carl Harbaugh, James Parrott, Charlie Hall, Frank Butler, Robert McKenzie, Nick Grinde, Hal Law, Frank Terry, Frank Tashlin and Gordon Douglas 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.

the kids:

George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky" aka "Spank"
Lead role. He disobeys his mother in order to explore the cave, but it turns out to be a dream.
Scotty Beckett as "Scott"
Supporting role. He chooses not to take part in collecting the booty. He later named this as his favorite film.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. Or more specifically, "Little Buckwheat." He's a "she" in this film. Spanky ties a string to him so they won't lose their way.
Matthew "Stymie" Beard as "Stymie"
Supporting role. He has a fair amount of dialogue, but is mostly along for the ride.
Jerry Tucker
Supporting role. He has a few lines of dialogue, but is mostly an ensemble player.
Marylin Bourne
Supporting role. She's presumably the blonde girl. She's present through most of the film, but has no dialogue. Maltin's earlier book, The Great Movie Shorts, lists her as Mary Ann Breckell.
Paul Rodriguez
Supporting role. He's the five-year-old midget in the baby bonnet. He went on to become The World's Smallest Man in one of the major circuses.
Gilbert Hullett
Supporting role. He's the small boy wearing the straw boater.

the animals:

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

the adults:

Tex Madsen as the giant
Supporting role. He was 7'6". He returns home to find that some kids have invaded his territory and stolen his treasure. Maltin & Bann thought, in the 1977 edition of their book, that he might be Jack Earle.
Claudia Dell as Spanky's mom
Small part. She sends Spanky to his room.
Joe Young as "Joe," Spanky's dad
Small part. He reads the newspaper and tells Spanky about some treasure discovered in a cave.
Billy Bletcher as the voice of the giant
Small part. Ironically, he was 5'2".

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A14.) The first part of this piece is played over the opening titles and as we first see the breakfast table.
"Little Dancing Girl" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Also known as "Dancing Girl" and "Dancing Girls." About half of this piece is played as Spanky comes to the breakfast table.
piece 132
This is played as Spanky's dad reads from the newspaper. A small part is repeated as Spanky contemplates which way Washington would go. It's repeated as the giant closes the door and walks away from the gang.
"Miser" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. A fragment of this piece is played as Spanky dumps his breakfast into his dad's bowl. Another fragment is played as Spanky takes a look at the newspaper. A fuller portion is played as Scotty hides in the mousehole.
"Oh, Doctor! Doctor!" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. A barely-audible fragment of this piece is played as we get a look at the newspaper story. It's played in full twice in a row as the gang explores the cave and Scotty falls down. It's played twice again as the gang discovers the giant chair and the giant footprint. It's repeated as the giant catches Stymie.
"Your Piktur" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. A fragment of this piece is played as Spanky decides to go off and find some treasure. A fuller edit is played as Buckwheat starts to follow behind and Scotty runs out of string. A small fragment is repeated as the gang starts to leave the giant's home.
"(We're Going To) Arrowhead" by Leroy Shield
A portion of this piece is played as Spanky leaves the breakfast table. It's played in full as the treasure chest is broken into. The second half is repeated as Spanky wakes from his dream and the end title appears.
"Teeter-Totter" by Leroy Shield
Half of this piece is played as the gang first arrives at the cave. A small portion is repeated as the gang explores the cave and Buckwheat digs.
"Hurry" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted 1931. Most of this piece is played as the kids look into the cave and decide that they need some light. A fragment is repeated as Stymie burns Jerry.
"Let's Go" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted 1930. Most of this piece is played as Spanky goes home for a flashlight and gets sent to his room.
"You Are The One I Love" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. This is played and partially repeated as Spanky talks to his alter ego. A fragment is repeated as the gang discovers the treasure.
"Fliver Flops" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. The first half of this piece is played as the gang starts to explore the cave. This portion is repeated as the gang hides under the table. The same portion is played as the giant catches Scotty and Spanky gets stuck on the flypaper.
"Cascadia" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Aug. 4, 1931. The first segment of this piece is played as Spanky ties the string around Buckwheat. This portion is repeated as the kids hide in the fireplace and the giant discovers them.
"Wrong, All Wrong" by Leroy Shield
This is played as Buckwheat is pulled into the hole. It's repeated as the giant enters the room.
"If It Were Only True" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Most of this piece is played as the gang collects their booty and tries to find a way out.
"Run" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Aug. 13, 1931. This is played as the giant is carrying the bucket containing Buckwheat.
"Confusion" by Leroy Shield
This is played as the giant chases Spanky.

the locations:

Hal E. Roach Studios
The same cave sets used in the Laurel & Hardy feature "Babes In Toyland" were also used in this film.

miscellaneous:

Maltin & Bann give the release date of November 3, 1934, for this film. However, it is now clear that the film was released closer to its copyright date of January 5, 1935. Unfortunately, I don't have title sheet or cutting continuity dates for this short, but I do have these dates for the previous film in the series, "Washee Ironee" (no. 131). In fact, for a more complete picture of this issue, it would be a good idea to look at the webpage for that film. Basically, it looks like the production of the Laurel & Hardy feature "Babes In Toyland" created a serious delay for the entire Our Gang series. Director Gus Meins was recruited at the last minute to co-direct the feature, which then proceeded to get mired in production delays until late September. Ultimately, a film that should have been finished around the end of August didn't wrap until October 17th. "Washee Ironee" was finished around this time, but it had been directed by James Parrott. Meins himself directed "Mama's Little Pirate," which wouldn't have been able to start until the cave sets for "Babes In Toyland" were available. In fact, I suspect that these cave sets inspired the whole idea behind "Mama's Little Pirate."

The fictitious newspaper at the breakfast table is the Bradley Times, but the lettering is different in the longshot, in which only the word Times is visible.

According to a Variety item of May 3, 1950, this short was 'tradeshown' in New York on May 1st by Monogram in anticipation of the reissue to theaters of the Our Gang shorts as "The Little Rascals." Two others shorts were shown with it: "Dogs Is Dogs" (no. 110) and "Forgotten Babies" (no. 121).

The 1985 film "The Goonies" was most likely inspired by this film, since it includes a group of kids in a cave filled with treasure, as well as a monosyllabic giant.


availability:

The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 12 (VHS) from Cabin Fever and
The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Volume Two (4 LD set) from Cabin Fever
Released July 6, 1994. Also released as part of 12 VHS boxed set. This is a complete original print, and even includes an opening certification title card from the Production Code Adminstration of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America (certificate no. 491). The total footage lasts 17:51. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs. There's also a clip lasting 0:02 included in the opening advertisement of all the Cabin Fever VHS releases, which shows the gang with their newly-found treasure.
The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 11 & Vol. 12 (DVD) from Cabin Fever
Same contents as the Cabin Fever VHS releases. Also released as part of The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited (6 DVD set).
The Little Rascals - The Complete Collection (8 DVD set) from Genius Products
Released late Oct. 2008. This is identical to the Cabin Fever version.
The Little Rascals Colorized Collection (VHS) from Hallmark Home Entertainment
Released Apr. 19, 1999. One of six same-named VHS releases, each with three colorized films, deriving from the Cabin Fever versions.
The Little Rascals Book XXI (VHS) from Blackhawk Video
This is a home movie print from Blackhawk. The opening title is remade, but the crew credits and end title are original. The end title has been cropped to omit the NRA designation. The picture quality is very good. The original footage totals 17:24, but the original soundtrack lasts an additional 0:08.
The Little Rascals: Divot Diggers/Mama's Little Pirate (VHS) from Republic Pictures Home Video
Released May 1991. This is the Blackhawk print. The original footage in this version totals 16:46, but the original soundtrack lasts an additional 0:08.
Rascal Dazzle (VHS/LD) from Embassy Home Entertainment
Original film released 1981. Video released 1984. A clip lasting 0:04 is shown in the opening montage of this documentary, showing a closeup of Spanky talking to his mother. Another clip lasting 0:59 is included, showing the treasure chest being broken open, with music and narration added.

© Robert Demoss.


My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number)
Matthew Lydick via thelittlerascals.net (for providing information about Paul Rodriguez from Macr Hartman's book American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia Of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Elliot Unkefer (for pointing out the 'A14' arrangement of "Good Old Days")
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)


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