Beginner's Luck

film no. 135


availability:

The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 1 (VHS) from Cabin Fever and
The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Volume One (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 with excellent picture quality. The total footage lasts 18:24. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.

The Little Rascals Volume 1: Collector's Edition (VHS) from Hallmark Home Entertainment
Released Aug. 15, 2000. Also included as part of The Little Rascals Volumes 1-5: Collector's Edition (5 VHS set) and The Little Rascals Volumes 1-10: Collector's Edition (10 VHS set), both released Aug. 15, 2000.

The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (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 Volumes 1-2 (DVD) from Hallmark Home Entertainment
Released Aug. 15, 2000. Same contents as the Cabin Fever DVD.

The Little Rascals - The Complete Collection (8 DVD set) from Genius Products
Released late Oct. 2008. This is identical to the Cabin Fever version. There are also two clips from this film shown in the main menu.

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 Comedy Classics Vol. 1 (VHS) from NTA Home Entertainment
Released Apr. 1991. This is a home movie print from Blackhawk. The opening titles are remade, but the crew credits and end title are original. The end title has been cropped to omit the NRA logo. The picture quality is very good. The original footage totals 18:07, but the original soundtrack lasts an additional 0:07.

The Little Rascals Book I (VHS) from Blackhawk Video
This is the Blackhawk print.

Little Rascals Greatest Hits (VHS/DVD) from GoodTimes Home Video
Released Mar. 1, 2001. Reissued Aug. 13, 2002. Also included as part of Our Gang Collector Series 4 Pack (4 DVD set), released Mar. 21, 2001. Also included as part of Our Gang Collector Series 5 Pack (5 VHS set/5 DVD set), VHS released Feb. 2002 and DVD released Mar. 2004. Also included as part of Our Gang Double Feature (DVD), released June 25, 2002. This is a print from The Little Rascals made by Monogram Pictures Corporation. The opening titles are remade, but the crew credits and end title are original. The end title has been cropped to omit the NRA logo. The picture quality is fairly good. The original footage totals 17:52, but the original soundtrack lasts an additional 0:05.

Rascal Dazzle (VHS/LD) from Embassy Home Entertainment
Original film released 1981. Video released 1984. A clip lasting 0:43 is included, showing Spanky's mother announcing his entry into show business. This is followed by a clip lasting 0:26 showing the gang arriving at the theater and showing their noisemakers to Spanky. Both of these clips have music and narration added. These are followed by a clip lasting 3:46, showing Spanky's performance.

The Our Gang Story (VHS/DVD) from GoodTimes Home Video
VHS released 1994. DVD released May 21, 2002. Also included as part of Our Gang Collector Series 4 Pack (4 DVD set), released Mar. 21, 2001, Our Gang Collector Series 5 Pack (5 VHS/DVD set), released Feb. 2002 (VHS) and Mar. 2004 (DVD), and The Best Of Our Gang Volume 1 (DVD) released June 1, 2004. A clip lasting 2:05 is included, combining the scene of Spanky and the gang at the window with footage of Alfalfa and Harold. Another clip lasting 0:15 is included, continuing the scene with Alfalfa and Harold. Both clips have narration added.


technical details:

Production G-28.

Released on February 23, 1935, making it the 135th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted April 8, 1935, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP5477. Renewed August 1, 1962, with registration no. R299650. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2030.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "Beginner's Luck".'

A segment of "Honolulu Baby" from this film was later used in "Framing Youth" (no. 159).

King World Productions episode no. 17, available in both colorized and original black-and-white versions.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Credited in the film as a presenter. The Monogram print credits the film as "A Hal Roach Production."

Directed by Gus Meins
This credit appears in the film.

Photography: Art Lloyd, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.

Film Editor: Louis McManus
This credit appears in the film.

Recording Engineer: William Randall
Not listed by Maltin & Bann. This credit appears in the film.

Animal trainer: Tony Campanaro
He trained the current Pete.

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.

Approved by the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Certificate no. 677.

NRA
The National Recovery Administration emblem is shown in both the opening and end titles.

studio personnel
possible uncredited involvement


the kids:

George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky" aka "Spank"
Lead role. His mother puts him into a talent contest against his will.

Marianne Edwards as "Miss Daisy Dimple"
Supporting role. Her stage fright gets the better of her, but Spanky wins the prize for her.

Scotty Beckett
Supporting role. Among the kids in the gang, he and Jerry have most of the dialogue.

Jerry Tucker
Supporting role. Along with Scotty, he has most of the dialogue among the gang members.

Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's given a few closeups, but is mostly part of the group.

Sidney Kibrick
Supporting role. He has very little dialogue, and is mostly an ensemble player.

Matthew "Stymie" Beard
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's given very little dialogue, but is present throughout most of the film.

Alvin Buckelew
Supporting role. He's mostly an ensemble player in this film.

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer
Small part. He and his brother make up the act of "Tom and Jerry, the Arizona Nightingales," although it's Alfalfa that gets the attention from the camera and in the script. The cutting continuity refers to him as "Carl." This was his first appearance in the series.

Harold Switzer
Small part. He's the other half of "Tom and Jerry, the Arizona Nightingales." Maltin & Bann provide two nicknames for him, "Deadpan" and "Slim," which were used for studio publicity, but never in the films themselves. The cutting continuity refers to him as "Harold." This was his first appearance in the series.

The Cabin Kids as "The Five Little Cabin Kids"
Small parts. They sing "Dinah." Maltin & Bann list them as The Five Cabin Kids. The oldest girl is Ruth Hall, nicknamed "Sweetie," the second oldest girl is Helen Hall, nicknamed "Precious," the oldest boy is James Hall, nicknamed "Darling," the youngest girl is Winifred Hall, nicknamed "Sugar," and the youngest boy is Frederick Hall, nicknamed "Honey."

Merrill Strong
Small part. He sits next to Buckwheat in the audience. Maltin & Bann list him as Merrell Strong.

Donald Proffitt
Small part. He's in the front row to the left of Scotty, and is almost entirely an ensemble player.

Freddie Walburn
Small part. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Fred Walburn. The cutting continuity identifies him as "Freddie." He does a harmonica act, but is only seen backstage.

Eileen Bernstein
Small part. She's part of the gang in this film, sitting in the second row next to an old man.

Cecilia Murray
Small part. She's part of the gang as well, and sits in the second row to the left of Sidney Kibrick.

Jackie White
Extra. She's seen backstage in the background, and presumably does the unseen tapdancing act.

Tommy McFarland
Extra. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. In one shot, a boy that looks like him can be seen way back in the fifth row.

boy 134
Extra. A boy that looks like this boy sits behind the gang.

other kids
Small parts and extras.
(1.) The five hula dancers that follow Bonnie Lynn. Together, they're introduced as The Floradora Dollies. Maltin & Bann list The Meglin Kiddies, while Maltin's earlier book, The Great Movie Shorts, list The Five Meglin Kiddies. Among them was apparently Laura June Williams (later Kenny), but I can't tell which one she is.
(2.) Four additional kids can be seen in the audience, including the boy two rows behind the gang that looks like Leonard Kibrick, which might be the reason Maltin & Bann listed him.

undetermined listings
Maltin & Bann list Snooky Valentine, but I don't know which kid this is.


the animals:

Pete the Pup IV
Bit part. He can be seen at the fence when the gang first appears on screen.

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

other animals
Small part. The only remaining animal is the parrot that heckles Spanky while he rehearses. I think they may have gotten a new parrot since the silent era.


the adults:

Kitty Kelly as Spanky's mom
Featured role. She pushes Spanky onto the stage, only to make a spectacle of herself in the end.

Tom Herbert as the master of ceremonies
Supporting role. The cutting continuity refers to him as the 'manager.' He fends off Spanky's mother while he's not introducing the acts.

May Wallace as "Grandma"
Supporting role. Listed as "Mae Wallace" in the cutting continuity. She's Spanky's grandma and is sympathetic to his disdain for the stage.

James C. Morton as the piano player
Supporting role. He spends his time directly in front of the maelstrom caused by the gang's noisemakers.

woman 121 as Marianne's mom
Supporting role. She can't afford to buy the dress her daughter's wearing. Maltin & Bann identify her as Ruth Hiatt, but I don't think this is a match.

Charlie Hall as the stage hand
Small part. He gets in the way of the master of ceremonies.

Bess Flowers as one of the friends of Spanky's mom
Small part. She's the friend that does the talking and sits right next to Spanky's mom.

Robert McKenzie as a member of the audience
Small part. He's talking to the piano player until the gang arrives and pushes him out of the way.

Jack "Tiny" Lipson as a member of the audience
Small part. I'm pretty sure he's the overweight man sitting directly behind Robert McKenzie.

Ernie Alexander as a member of the audience
Extra. He's sitting in the third row, three seats to the left of boy 134.

Fred Holmes as a member of the audience
Extra. He's sitting two seats to the left of McKenzie.

other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The voice of the parrot.
(2.) Seven more friends of Spanky's mom.
(3.) At least four additional women backstage with the child performers.
(4.) Another man backstage seen with Hall in the shot looking from stage right to stage left.
(5.) The remaining members of the audience, which might not be any more than twenty.


the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A14.) This is played during the opening credits and as Spanky recites for his mother's friends. A fragment is played over the end title.

"She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain"
Originally a negro spiritual entitled "When The Chariot Comes." The retitled version was a popular Appalachian song in the 19th century, and also sung by railroad workers in the latter part of that century. In this film, it's sung by Alfalfa and Harold Switzer. Hatley received arrangement credit for this version, which was copyrighted on Mar. 8, 1935.

"Honolulu Baby" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Oct. 18, 1933. This is sung by The Floradora Dollies. This song was introduced in the Laurel & Hardy feature "Sons Of The Desert."

"Dinah" by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young and Harry Akst
Ethel Waters had a number two hit with this song in 1926. In 1932, both Bing Crosby & The Mills Brothers had a number one hit with it. In this film it's sung by The Cabin Kids.

"Swinging The Blues Away" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Sep. 15, 1933. Written with lyrics by Billy Gilbert and Frank Terry. An instrumental version is played on the piano as Daisy Dimple suffers her case of stage fright.

"Please Press Your Lips To Mine" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Sep. 15, 1933. This is the harmonica piece played by Freddie Walburn, though it's barely recognizable. It was also, incidentally, the first composition Hatley wrote for Roach back in 1930.

"Wobbly Feet" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Jan. 3, 1935. This is the piano piece played during the tapdancing number, while Spanky's mom talks to the gang.

"If It Were Only True" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. This is played on the piano as Spanky takes the stage.


miscellaneous:

Spanky recites "The Village Smithy" for his mom's friends.

This film was made due to the demand for more musical efforts following "Mike Fright," and went on to be one of the most successful shorts in series history.


©June 28, 2005, by Robert Demoss.
2005 updates: 7/4, 7/9, 7/10, 8/27, 8/30, 12/19.
2006 updates: 1/3, 1/8, 1/16, 2/11, 2/21, 5/16, 10/25.
2007 updates: 2/5, 4/1, 10/22, 11/9.
2008 updates: 5/26, 7/12, 7/27, 9/7, 9/22, 11/6, 12/16.
2009 updates: 7/23.


Thanks to Rob Stone, Joe Moore, Piet Schreuders, Elliot Unkefer and Paul Mular for assistance on this page.


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