The Fourth Alarm!

film no. 53

technical details:

Production K-11.

Filmed May 24 to June 14, 1926. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted September 17, 1926, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU23126. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Released early September 1926. It was the 53rd film in the series to be released. The official release date, as published in trade journals like Motion Picture News was September 12th. The earliest screening that I've confirmed was on Sep. 5th in Detroit.

Silent two-reeler. Also released as a five-reeler for the European market.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "The Fourth Alarm!"' The lobby card doesn't put the exclamation point in the title (and neither do Maltin & Bann).

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1015, "The Big Fire," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17320.

the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Credited in the film as a presenter.
Supervised by F. Richard Jones
Probably credited in the film as supervising director.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit probably appears in the film, but without his middle initial.
Assistant Directors: Robert A. McGowan and Charles Oelze
McGowan was later credited as Anthony Mack. The payroll summaries were listing McGowan as the assistant director for the Our Gang unit during this period, but were still listing Oelze as a prop man. Rob Stone's list gives sole credit to Oelze.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit probably appears in the film.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit probably appears in the film.
Cutter: Lloyd Campbell
This credit derives from Campbell's payroll status as the Our Gang cutter during this period.
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit probably appears in the film.
Props by Don Sandstrom
According to Rob Stone's list. Oelze is also listed as a prop man in the payroll summaries from this period.
Animation by E. H. Young
This credit derives from Young's payroll status as the studio animator during this period. Also listed as R. H. Young. The animation in this film involves the kitchen fire.
Story by Hal E. Roach and Robert F. McGowan
This credit probably doesn't appear in the film.
Animal trainer: Tony Campanaro
He was Pal's trainer.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
studio personnel
general manager - Warren Doane
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
possible uncredited involvement
writing - Robert A. McGowan, Hal Yates, Carl Harbaugh and James Parrott may have been among the gag writers.

the kids:

Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Featured role. He's the chief of the gang's fire department, and has to periodically give Mildred her worm remedy.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Featured role. The nickname doesn't appear in this print. He's given a few comedy moments, particularly the one with the fire hose.
Mildred Kornman as "Mildred"
Supporting role. She's featured pretty strongly in this short, as Joe has to keep feeding her the worm remedy.
Bobby "Bonedust" Young as "Bonedust"
Supporting role. He's given a few comic moments, getting stuck while trying to slide down the pole, and getting his pants on fire.
Mary Kornman
Supporting role. She helps Joe take care of Mildred, and discovers the explosives. This was her last appearance in the series barring reunion appearances.
Johnny Downs
Supporting role. He's in a partial leadership role in this short, not the chief, but still somewhat in charge.
Jay R. Smith as "Turkie-egg"
Supporting role. He's sent out with Abie to look for a fire.
Elmer "Scooter" Lowry
Supporting role. He's given a bit of extra screen time, but is mostly part of the ensemble.
Jackie Condon
Supporting role. He mostly does ensemble acting in this film.
Jannie Hoskins
Supporting role. She's seen mostly with Farina in the barn scene.
Jackie Levine as "Abie"
Supporting role. He accompanies Jay as they go out and look for fires.
Howard "Brandy" Brandenburg
Small part. He's the nose-picker during the sleeping sequence.
Bill Smith
Small part. He's the boy with the stinky feet during the sleeping sequence. In real life, he was Jay R. Smith's brother.
David Campbell
Small part. This is the blonde boy previously seen in "Every Man For Himself" (no. 32).
Billy Naylor
Extra. I haven't been able to spot him in the film itself, but he is clearly shown on at least one lobby card, and would have been present during the firehouse scenes.
Julia Blake
A publicity photo reveals her to be one of the kids in the opening bathing suit sequence.
other kids
Small parts.
(1.) There are 3 additional boys in the fire department, Toby Lambert, Paul Darma and Harry Blake. Also working on the first shooting date was Jack Campbell.
(2.) 14 additional kids worked on all three of the relevant dates (June 1, 2 & 3) for the opening swimsuit sequence: Doris Oelze, Andy Shuford, Billy Schwartz, Billy O'Brien, Clarke Robinson, Evelyn Randleman, Owen O'Brien, Margaret Jones, Peggy Eames, Billy Allgrunn, Betty Allgrunn, Frederick Carpenter, Travis Gerrerris and Lila May Lowry. Additionally, Lucile Cobb worked only on the 2nd and 3rd, and Brien O'Brien worked only on the 2nd.

the animals:

Pal as "Pal"
Supporting role. He's the motor power for one of the vehicles, as well as part of the alarm system.
Small part. This dog is the one that takes Joe's pants.
Dinah the Mule as "Humidor"
Small part. She pulls the wagon driven by Johnny and Mary.
mule 053 as "Cuspidor"
Small part. Or maybe it's a donkey. It has bigger ears and is smaller than Dinah, but still resembles her. Could possibly be the mule from "Uncle Tom's Uncle" (no. 50). It pulls the hook and ladder.
other animals
Small parts. The two goat pulling Jackie's vehicle, named "Violet" and "Sweet Willium".
See the fly crawling on Pal's collar at the end of the film?

the adults:

Harry Arras as the fire chief
Supporting role. He's the most prominent adult in the film. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Gene Morgan.
George B. French as the chemist
Small part. He's the one that keeps explosives in his office.
Jack O'Brien, Ham Kinsey, Chet Brandenburg, Ed Brandenburg and Clarence Morehouse as firefighters
Small parts. With the exception of Morehouse, they're in the scene with Morgan as they show up at the house after the kids put out the kitchen fire. As Morgan crouches down to talk to the kids, the four of them standing in back are, left to right, Jack, Chet, Ham and Ed. At the end of the film after the kids put out the fire in the chemist's lab, they show up with Morgan again, this time with Morehouse peering over Morgan's shoulder.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The housewife whose kitchen fire is put out by the gang.
(2.) Charles Bachman is listed as a cop, but it's pretty hard to tell.
(3.) One other cop as well.
(4.) There are also dozens of pedestrians. Maltin & Bann list Sam Lufkin among them, but I don't know which one they mean. The old man that gets drenched looks like he might be William A. Orlamond.

the locations:

Van Beuren Place, Culver City
Footage was shot in Culver City June 1st through 5th. This would have presumably included the footage shot at the actual Fire Department shown in the film, with the makeshift merry-go-round and water slide built next to it. This was located at 415 Van Beuren Place, just south of the First National Bank of Culver City. Just to the left of the Fire Department and housed in the same building, but not shown in the film, were the City Hall and Police Department. This was actually an interim City Hall which existed until the better-known third variation was built elsewhere. The original City Hall had been replaced by the Culver Hotel.
Motor Avenue and Woodbine Street, Palms district, Los Angeles
Footage was shot in Palms on June 5th, 7th and 8th. There was also footage shot back at the studio on the 8th. When the kids first leave in their fire wagon, we see it moving south and exiting the alley onto Woodbine midway between Motor and Vinton. During its journey, it travels up the 3300 block of Motor, with background views of the house at 3359 Motor and a brief glimpse of part of the Palms Hardware Co. at 3351 Motor. In the shot of Jackie riding along, the Palms Chamber of Commerce is seen behind him at 3438 Motor. In the shot where Bonedust is trying to put on the 'brakes,' they're at the intersection of Motor and Stilson. The buildings behind the Home Made Bakery are shown in the background. I haven't been able to specify the locations elsewhere on this journey, but the spot where Bonedust gets hosed off is right next to the vacant lot featured in "Olympic Games" (no. 63). Also, at the end of the film when the mule runs off with the wagon, she's seen against the back wall of the Masonic Hall at 3402 Motor.
Hal Roach Studios, Culver City
The barn set was used May 24th through 28th. Some of the June 8th footage was also shot here. The downtown scene with the fire was shot on the New York exterior set on June 10th and 11th.
Culver City
Footage was shot here from June 1st to 5th.
Footage was shot here on June 5th, 7th and 8th.


18 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Three and a half weeks after shooting finished for "Shivering Spooks" (no. 52), the 'start' date arrived for "The Fourth Alarm!" on May 24th. Shooting continued until the 'finish' date on June 14th. No shooting took place on May 23rd, May 30th, June 6th or June 13th, which were all Sundays. There was also no shooting on May 31st, which was Decoration Day. Information was entered in for this date, but crossed out, probably indicating that the person entering the information absent-mindedly forgot to skip the page for that date. Over seven weeks passed before the Our Gang unit started shooting "War Feathers" (no. 54). The studio was closed during four of these weeks, but director McGowan was shooting overseas footage for "Seeing The World" (no. 55).

Mickey Daniels was present on at least one day of shooting. In a publicity photo from that day, the kids are all in their firefighting outfits and are posing with a visiting elderly couple. Standing with the group is Mickey, wearing regular clothes. However, it appears that he had no involvement with the film.

The Gang's fire station is called Engine Comp. No. 2.

In an easily missed gag, there's a 'for sale' sign in the window of the burning building which has been altered later in the film to read 'fire sale.'

On the wall of the firefighters' sleeping quarters is a drawing of a horse previously seen in "Circus Fever" (no. 35).

40 still images were printed into numerous press photos to promote this film.

The calendar in the woman's kitchen is for April, which makes it a Monday through Sunday calendar.

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number, shooting dates, location info, and some of the crew credits)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Jesse Brisson (for identifying Clarence Morehouse)
Matthew Lydick and Drina Mohacsi (for helping out with Bill Smith and David Campbell)
'mrsoandso' (for noticing the drawing of the horse's head in this film and one other)

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