The Awful Tooth

film no. 168


technical details:

Production K-21.

Release no. C-739.

Filmed April 12 to 16, 1938. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared by Elmer Raguse on April 14, 1938.

Cutting continuity submitted May 20, 1938.

Music cue sheet prepared June 15, 1938.

Copyrighted May 26, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8062. Renewed December 2, 1965, with registration no. R374807. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

Released May 28, 1938. It was the 168th 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 April 23, 1938.

All-talking one-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "The Awful Tooth".'

King World Productions episode no. 40a, 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 Nate Watt
This credit appears in the film.
Assistant Director: Lawrence Tarver
This credit derives from studio documentation.
Photography: Norbert Brodine, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: William Ziegler
This credit appears in the film.
Sound: William Randall
This credit appears in the film.
Animal trainer: Tony Campanaro
He trained the current Pete.
Written by Hal Law
This credit derives from the Feb. 1st synopsis and the Apr. 5th treatment.
Script Clerk: Morton
This credit derives from the daily film reports, which don't reveals his first name.
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. 4247.
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
Lead role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's sometimes referred to as "Alfie" in the publicity materials. He wants all his teeth pulled, but has second thoughts once he gets to the dentist's office.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He gets a dime from the tooth fairy, which gives Alfalfa the idea.
Eugene "Porky" Lee
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's present in most of the footage with Buckwheat.
Henry Lee as "Spike"
Supporting role. He's present with Porky and Buckwheat through most of the film. Also, his photo is shown during the opening titles where Spanky's had previously been located. The nickname never turns up in the dialogue, but is included in the cutting continuity. The publicity material refers to him as "Hank." In the 1977 edition of their book, Maltin & Bann list him as Alvin Buckelew.
Darla Hood
She's not in the film itself, but her photo is shown during the opening titles.
Gary Jasgur
He's not in the film itself, but his photo is shown during the opening titles.
other kids
The only other kid shown in the film is the one in the photograph on the wall of the waiting room. There's a second photo or illustration next to it, which may also show one or two kids.

the animals:

George
Supporting role. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. He's the monkey that accompanies the gang to the dentist's office, and climbs on the equipment. I'm assuming this is the same monkey as seen in "Bear Facts" (no. 164).
Pete the Pup IV
Small part. He's with the boys at the beginning of the film.
Leo
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Jack Norton as "Dr. Schwartz," the dentist
Featured role. He decides to teach the boys a lesson.
Marjorie Townsend as "Miss Rogers," the nurse
Supporting role. She gets a good laugh as she assists the dentist in his lesson-teaching.
Babe Ruth
An advertising cutout of him is shown in the window of the sporting goods store.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) "Mr. Jones," seen walking out of the dentist's office.
(2.) Three men and two women walking in the background early in the film.

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A17.) This is played over the opening titles and as the boys are looking at the catcher's mitt. There's a bit more of it played than usual this time. The last part is played as the boys leave the dentist's office and the end title appears.

the locations:

Hal E. Roach Studios
Most of the footage was shot on Stage 4. The outdoor footage was shot on the New York Street set.

miscellaneous:

Five 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:
Feb. 1 - A rough synopsis written by Hal Law carries this date. The production number is K-19, which was soon reassigned to "Came The Brawn" (no. 166). This early version of the story features Spanky, as well as Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Porky. Pete the Pup and Elmer the monkey are also included. It's actually a football that the boys want, so Spanky suggests that Alfalfa have Butch punch him in the mouth to knock out a tooth. Unfortunately, Butch has promised his father that he'd stay out of fights for a month, the reward being a new bike. The boys come across Porky, who's running away because his mother pulls his teeth instead of letting them fall out. Porky is unwilling to let the boys have his teeth. They eventually end up in the dentist's office, where Porky is the patient. The monkey hides in the medicine cabinet and receives an effect from the laughing gas, which eventually affects everybody in the room.
Apr. 5 - A treatment written by Law carries this date. Spanky is not part of the story, but Tommy Bond is. Alfalfa is now in the dentist's chair. A gag from the synopsis involving a three dollar dentist's bill at the end of the story is included.
Apr. 6 and 8 - A script dated April 12th indicates that it was actually written on these two dates. The writing credit went to the 'staff.' Neither Spanky nor Butch were included, but instead there was a character named "Jerry," who may have possibly been Jerry Tucker. Buckwheat is referred to as "Buck."
Apr. 11 - A Raguse memo from this date copying Van Keuren, O'Brien, Burch and Watt, states that the title "The Awful Tooth" was being cleared via wire. A work order from this date describes the schedule for the next five days. Tuesday the 12th would involve shooting in front of the sporting goods store on the New York street, with 3 men and 2 women to serve as extras, and an animal man to handle the monkey and dog. The next four days were to involve the interior dentist office set on Stage 4.
Apr. 12 - This was the first day of shooting. Scheduled were Alfalfa, Porky, Buckwheat, Henry Lee, five extras (three men and two women) and one animal man with monkey and dog. Shooting was to take place in front of the sporting goods store on the New York Street set. The daily film report reveals that almost all of the opening street footage was shot. Two Collum memos from this date to O'Brien, Van Keuren, Huber and Cash, requested that the four boys be 'started' as of this date.
Apr. 13 - This was the second day of shooting. Scheduled were Alfalfa, Porky, Buckwheat, Henry, Jack Norton, Mary (sic) Townsend, and one animal man with monkey and dog. Shooting was to take place on the interior dentist's office set on Stage 4. The call sheet refers to the film as "Untitled (Our Gang)," even though the title had been decided upon. The daily film report reveals that the dog was not present, and that both the dentist's office and the waiting room were used. Most of the footage shot involved the portion of the film in which the boys first arrive at the dentist's office.
Apr. 14 - This was the third day of shooting. Scheduled were Alfalfa, Porky, Buckwheat, Henry, Marj. Townsend, Jack Norton, and one animal man with monkey. Shooting was to take place on the interior dentist's office set on Stage 4. The call sheet refers to the film as "The Awful Tooth." The daily film report reveals that things went pretty much as scheduled.
Apr. 15 - This was the fourth day of shooting. Scheduled were Alfalfa, Porky, Buckwheat, Henry, Marjorie Townsend, Jack Norton, and one animal man with monkey. Shooting was to take place on the interior dentist's office set on Stage 4. The daily film report reveals that shooting remained more or less on schedule.
Apr. 16 - This was the final day of shooting. Scheduled were Alfalfa, Porky, Buckwheat, Henry, Marjorie Townsend, Jack Norton, and one animal man with monkey. Shooting was to take place on the interior dentist's office set on Stage 4. The daily film report reveals that not only were the dentist's office and waiting room sets used, but the shot of Buckwheat rounding the street corner was also filmed, using the New York outdoor set. The production was considered complete on this date. Film costs for the previous week were $3013.24, bringing the total to $3332.67.
Apr. 18 - Two Collum memos from this date requested that the four boys be 'closed' as of Apr. 16th.
May 14 - A Raguse memo states that the domestic negative and domestic negative soundtrack were delivered to the MGM lab, and that the domestic positive Movietone print was shipped as of this date.
June 4 - A Raguse memo from this date copying Huber, Van Keuren, O'Brien and Burch, states that the Canadian dupe negative composite was delivered.

The press material states that Alfalfa presented his pet gosling to Marjorie Townsend.

Another press item relates that the four main kids (Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Porky and Darla) all got into cowboy duds on the last day of shooting as a gag for director Nate Watt, who directed many westerns in his career. At the opportune moment, they all said, "Shoot, pardner!"

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 Mar. 26th, with the negative cut on Apr. 6th and shipped to MGM on Apr. 9th, and the film released on Apr. 23rd.

The script submitted to MGM was given the number B324.

Spanky and Butch were both included in early drafts of the script.

The film title is a spoof of "The Awful Truth" from 1937.

The Our Gang exhibit at the Hollywood Wax Museum is based on this film.

This film was 909 feet in length.


availability:

The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 16 (VHS) from Cabin Fever and
The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Volume Three (4 LD set) from Cabin Fever
Released 1995. This is a complete original print with excellent picture quality. The total footage lasts 9:55. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.
The Little Rascals Book VIII (VHS) from Blackhawk Video
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 9:33, but the original soundtrack lasts an additional 0:22.
The Little Rascals: Our Gang Follies Of 1936/The Awful Tooth (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. There are also two clips from this film shown in the main menu.
Dental Follies (VHS) from On Deck Entertainment
Released 1997.

© 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)
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)


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