Bear Facts

film no. 164


technical details:

Production K-17.

Release no. C-735.

Filmed January 26 to February 4, 1938. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Music cue sheet prepared February 23, 1938.

Title sheet prepared by Elmer Raguse on February 25, 1938.

Cutting continuity submitted February 25, 1938.

Released March 5, 1938. It was the 164th film in the series to be released. Early in the film season, Fred Quimby of MGM set a projected release date for this production of January 1, 1938.

Copyrighted March 8, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP7877. Renewed June 16, 1965, with registration no. R362815. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

All-talking one-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "Bear Facts".'

King World Productions episode no. 52a, 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 Gordon Douglas
This credit appears in the film.
Assistant Director: Lawrence Tarver
This credit derives from production documentation.
Photography: Art Lloyd, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: William Ziegler
This credit appears in the film.
Sound: Oscar Lagerstrom
This credit appears in the film.
Animal Trainer: Tony Campanaro
This credit derives from the call sheets. The daily film reports reveal that he trained both the monkey and the dog in this film.
Script Clerk: Ellen Hansen
This credit derives from the daily film reports. Hansen was later known as Ellen Corby.
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. 4072.
studio personnel
vice president in charge of production - S. S. Van Keuren
secretary-treasurer - Mat O'Brien
Roach's assistant on production activities - Lawrence Tarver
assistant secretary-treasurer, comptroller - Hugh Huber
film editor and sound department - Elmer Raguse
story department - Jack Jevne
property department - W. L. Stevens
process department - Roy Seawright
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
musical director - Marvin Hatley
men's wardrobe - Harry Black
paymaster - Mrs. Grace Cash
transportation director - Bob Davis
school teacher - Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
writing - James Parrott, Hal Law, Felix Adler and Gordon Douglas may have been among the gag writers.
property department - Charles Oelze was probably involved in this capacity.

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Lead role. He refers to himself as "The Great Alfalfa." He gets carried away bragging about being an animal trainer, and finds himself having to train a bear.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Supporting role. He repeatedly beats Alfalfa at checkers, but otherwise does little more than accompany him through the film.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He and Porky discover the new people moving into the neighborhood.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Supporting role. He accompanies Buckwheat throughout the film.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. Her father runs a circus, and the two of them put a scare into the boys.
Baby Patsy May
She's not in the film itself, but her photo is shown during the opening titles.

the animals:

George as "Elmer"
Supporting role. He accompanies the boys throughout the film, and demonstrates a couple of tricks.
Jiggs
Bit part. He's the dog who's made up to look like a tiger.
Leo
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
Pete the Pup IV
He's not actually in the film, but his photo is shown during the opening titles.

the adults:

Jack Pepper as "Mr. King," Darla's dad
Supporting role. He runs the circus and disguises himself as a bear named "Fifi."
Ed Brandenberg as "Fifi"
Supporting role. Or more specifically, he plays Darla's dad while in the bear costume. He also plays one of the three bears in the jungle scene.
Wilbur Pike and Cooper Smith as the other two bears
Small parts. These are the other two bears in the jungle scene.
other adults
Small part and bit part. Maltin & Bann list Jack Baxley and Al Pilario as the expressmen, but more specifically, one of them is a real estate agent, while the other is a mover. I don't know which is which, though. The daily film reports also lists them.

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A17.) This is played over the opening titles and as we first see the checker board. A small portion is repeated as as the film closes.
"Nightfall" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Mar. 20, 1937. This is played during Alfalfa and Fifi's dance.

the locations:

Hal E. Roach Studios
This entire film was shot on Stage 4.

miscellaneous:

Six shooting dates went into the making of this film. Here's a breakdown of the activity, deriving from the call sheets, daily film reports and various memos:
Jan. 20 and 22 - A surviving script dated Jan. 25th was actually written on these two dates. The bear's name was already "Fifi" at this point, and Buckwheat is consistently referred to as "Buck."
Jan. 25 - According to the daily film report, this was the first day of shooting. The call sheet called for a 1 pm start, since shooting still needed to finish for "Canned Fishing" (no. 163). Scheduled for "Bear Facts" were the four main boys and George (Tony's monkey). Shooting was to take place on the interior club house set on Stage 4. The title at this point was listed as "Untitled (Our Gang)." As it turns out, production didn't switch from "Canned Fishing" to "Bear Facts" until 3:50 pm. The daily film report reveals that the shot was lined up, but that shooting was discontinued due to Alfalfa's voice. It also states that Darla did not work, but that the four main boys and the monkey trainer were present. A Tarver memo from this date to Van Keuren, Huber and Collum, states that Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Gary Jasgur and Wilma Cox 'finished' on "Canned Fishing" and that the four main boys 'started' on "Bear Facts" as of this date. A Collum memo from this date to O'Brien, Van Keuren, Huber and Cash, relays the "Bear Facts" information.
Jan. 26 - This really was the first day of shooting, even though the daily film report states that it was the second. Scheduled were the four main boys and George. Shooting was to take place on the interior club house set on Stage 4. The title at this point was listed as "Untitled (Our Gang)." The daily film report reveals that the four main boys and the monkey trainer were present, but that Darla did not work. Shooting was stopped at 1:50 pm because of Alfalfa's laryngitis. Very few shots were achieved, all taking place in the opening clubhouse scene, and some of these were reshot later. It was tentatively decided that shooting would resume on Jan. 28th.
Jan. 27 - This day's shooting would have taken place on the jungle set on Stage 4.
Jan. 28 - Plans to resume filming on this date were not realized. This day's shooting would have taken place on the jungle set on Stage 4 in the morning, and the exterior home set on Stage 4 in the afternoon.
Jan. 29 - This day's shooting would have taken place on the interior home set on Stage 4. It appears that this was originally forecast to be the final day of shooting. Film costs for the previous week were $1529.11, bringing the total to $2119.78.
Jan. 30 - This was a Sunday. No shooting took place.
Jan. 31 - This was the second day of shooting. Scheduled were the four main boys and George. Shooting was to take place on the interior club house set on Stage 4. The film by this time had acquired the title "Bear Facts." The daily film report reveals that the four main boys and the monkey trainer were present, but that Darla didn't work. Most of the opening clubhouse scene was shot on this day, including retakes of much of what had been shot on the 26th. A Collum memo to O'Brien, Van Keuren, Huber and Cash, requested that the four main boys be 'started' as of this date.
Feb. 1 - This was the third day of shooting. Scheduled were the four main boys, the monkey, 3 bear doubles, and Jiggs in a tiger suit. Originally, this day was supposed to be devoted to shooting on the jungle set on Stage 4. However, delays from the previous day meant that shooting was scheduled for the barn set (that is, the club house set) in the morning, and the jungle set in the afternoon. The daily film report reveals that the four main boys, 3 doubles (that is, the bears, played by Wilbur Pike, Cooper Smith and Ed Brandy), and '1 animal man with monkey and dog' were present, but that Darla didn't work. The clubhouse footage was finally finished, including the final scene in the film, and much of the jungle footage was completed as well.
Feb. 2 - This was the fourth day of shooting. Scheduled were the five main kids, 3 bear doubles, Jack Baxley, Jack Pepper and Al Pilario. Shooting was to take place on the jungle set on Stage 4 in the morning, and the exterior home set on Stage 4 in the afternoon. The daily film report reveals that shooting essentially went as scheduled, with the jungle scene completed, and all of the exterior house shots finished. The same three doubles were used on this day.
Feb. 3 - This was the fifth day of shooting. Scheduled were the five main kids, Jack Pepper, and George. Originally, shooting was to be confined to the interior home set on Stage 4 on this day. By the time the call sheet was prepared, the exterior home set was added to the schedule. The daily film report, however, reveals that only the interior living room and interior hallway sets, both on Stage 4, were used. In attendance were the five main kids, Jack Pepper, and the monkey trainer. Four days earlier, this day had been thought of as the final day of shooting, but within a couple of days, it was known that shooting would continue into the 4th. A Tarver memo from this date to Van Keuren, Huber and Collum, states that Darla started as of this date. A Collum memo from this date to O'Brien, Van Keuren, Huber and Cash, states the same.
Feb. 4 - This was the final day of shooting. The daily film report states that it was the seventh day of shooting, but the call sheet correctly identifies it as the sixth. Scheduled were the five main kids, George, Jack Pepper, and Ed Brandenberg. Shooting was to take place on the interior home set on Stage 4, the object being to finally finish this film. The daily film report reveals that the five main kids, Jack Pepper, Ed Brandenberg (the double for the bear), and the monkey trainer was all present, and that shooting was indeed completed. A Tarver memo from this date to Van Keuren, Huber and Collum, stated that the five main kids all 'finished' as of this date.
Feb. 5 - A Collum memo from this date to O'Brien, Van Keuren, Huber and Cash, relays the info from Tarver memo of the previous day. Film costs for the previous week were $3142.36, bringing the total to $5262.14.

According to a pressbook, Gordon Douglas gave Spanky a 35mm camera to play with, and Spank shot some footage for the fantasy sequence. Though his footage wasn't used, it did point up some top lighting that Art Lloyd hadn't noticed, and the scene was reshot.

From the press release: 'Porky Lee, who trails Alfalfa Switzer and Spanky McFarland into a dense jungle infested with wild animals in "Bear Facts," new Hal Roach-MGM comedy, now a riotous feature of the program at the _______ theater, came out with a resolution which he did not know how to express. Alfalfa got into the scrape by boasting of his prowess as a hunter and animal-trainer, Porky's mother explained to the young actor, who was astonished when he came on the set to find monkeys, bears and a tiger lolling about the sidelines. He was somewhat apprehensive about the part he was to play in the ensuing action. "What does boasting mean," he asked Director Gordon Douglas, thinking what his mother had told him about what happened to his friend Alfalfa. "Oh, sort of speaking out of turn," Douglas hastily answered. Porky was so impressed by his newly acquired learning that he would not speak a word - not even his lines, for more than an hour. Only further explanation by Douglas on boasting broke Porky's silence strike.'

A press release from late January (before the film was titled) mentions that Gordon Douglas explained the game of checkers to the kids, who were previously unfamiliar with it. They soon became very interested in the game and played it during every spare moment. The apex of this activity is when they challenged and beat Stan Laurel, the former Roach Studio checker king.

The negative cost on this film as of February 5, 1938, was $19,509.08.

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B334.

A document prepared at the beginning of the film season gave projected dates for all of the one-reelers to be released. Editing on this film was to begin on Dec. 3rd, with the negative cut on Dec. 15th and shipped to MGM on Dec. 18th, and the film released on Jan. 1st.

On February 1st, it was announced that Spanky would be retiring from Our Gang at the conclusion of his current contract on March 1st.

On the afternoon of Sunday, February 6th, the members of Our Gang were guests on the George Jessel program "Thirty Minutes In Hollywood."

The gang hangs out in the All Star Club House.

Darla and her dad move into the Jones house.

The circus run by Darla's dad is called King's Circus.


availability:

The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 18 (VHS) from Cabin Fever and
The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Volume Four (3 LD set) from Cabin Fever
Released 1995. This is a complete original print with excellent picture quality. The total footage lasts 10:40. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.
The Best Of The Little Rascals (VHS) from NTA Home Entertainment
Released Oct. 1992. This is a home movie print from Blackhawk. The opening title and crew credits are remade, but the end title is original. The picture quality is very good. The original footage totals 10:20, but the original soundtrack lasts an additional 0:20.
The Little Rascals Book IV (VHS) from Blackhawk Video
This is the Blackhawk print.
The Little Rascals: Bear Facts/Hook And Ladder (VHS) from Republic Pictures Home Video
Released May 1991. This is the Blackhawk print.
The Little Rascals - The Complete Collection (8 DVD set) from Genius Products
Released late Oct. 2008. This is the Blackhawk print.
Rascal Dazzle (VHS/LD) from Embassy Home Entertainment
Original film released 1981. Video released 1984. A clip lasting 0:49 is included, showing the game of checkers. Another clip lasting 0:04 is included, showing a closeup of Spanky from the same scene, with music added.

© Robert Demoss.


My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Piet Schreuders (for identifying "Nightfall")
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)


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