Free Wheeling

film no. 117

technical details:

Production G-10.

Release no. C-623.

Filmed July 19 to 27, and September 3, 1932. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared by Richard Currier on September 20, 1932.

According to the Motion Picture Herald, this film was released on October 1, 1932, making it the 117th film in the series to be released. However, later issues switch the release date with that of "Birthday Blues" (no. 118), giving "Free Wheeling" a November 12th release. Also, the cutting continuity date shown below is probably not possible with an October 1st release. If the retake date is taken into account, then this film finished shooting a month later than "Birthday Blues," which might account for the two films being switched on the release schedule. This confusing situation might also explain why Rob Stone listed "Birthday Blues" as production G-10 and "Free Wheeling" as production G-11.

Cutting continuity submitted October 27, 1932.

Copyrighted November 7, 1932, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP3396. Renewed February 17, 1960, with registration no. R252332. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2027.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "Free Wheeling".'

King World Productions episode no. 14, available in both colorized and original black-and-white versions.

the crew:

Produced by Robert F. McGowan for Hal Roach
This is the way Maltin & Bann put it. The film credits Roach as a presenter, with a separate credit reading "A Robert McGowan Production."
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without his middle initial.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film.
Dialogue by H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film.
Recording Engineer: James Greene
This credit appears in the film.
Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Props by Dale Schrum
He provided the car and drove it.
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.
studio personnel
general manager - Henry Ginsberg
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
sound department - Elmer Raguse
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
optical effects supervisor - Roy Seawright
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
school teacher - Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
assistant direction - Probably Don Sandstrom.
writing - Robert F. McGowan probably headed story development, while Carl Harbaugh, Frank Terry, Charlie Hall, Robert A. McGowan 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. Stymie Beard specifically credited Oelze with building the gang's taxi.
titles - Louis McManus probably designed the main titles.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.
animation - Probably the work of Roy Seawright.

the kids:

Dickie Moore as "Dickie" aka "Dick"
Lead role. His stiff neck is cured by Stymie during their adventure in the gang's taxi.
Matthew "Stymie" Beard as "Stymie"
Featured role. He introduces himself as "Tony Wand" over the taxi's radio system (although I might have the last name wrong). He ensures that Dickie gets his ride.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Supporting role. He and Jacquie chase after the taxi, but they board in time to catch the excitement.
Jacquie Lyn as "Jacquie"
Supporting role. She accompanies Spanky throughout the film.
Dorothy "Echo" DeBorba
Small part. Her name doesn't turn up in the dialogue, but the cutting continuity refers to her as "Dorothy." She boards the taxi early in the film and accompanies Dickie's parents on their search for their son.
Kendall "Breezy Brisbane" McComas
Small part. The nickname doesn't turn up in the dialogue, but the cutting continuity refers to him as "Breezy." He drives the taxi.
Douglas Greer
Small part. He assists Brisbane in the taxi business.
Bobby Mallon
Bit part. He gets paddled by a board on the front of the taxi.
other kids
The only other kids shown in this film are in the background. One kid is standing in his driveway, while two others (who might be adults) are riding bikes.
unlikely involvement
Maltin & Bann list Johnny Collum, Jimmy Daniels and Bobby De War, none of whom, according to the payroll ledger, worked in this film. They did, however, all work in "A Lad An' A Lamp" (no. 119) on the same day that the retakes for "Free Wheeling" were taken (Sep. 3rd), and may have turned up in a publicity photo or two with the three adult actors who were present that day.

the animals:

Joe the Monk
Supporting role. The little kids steal his money and then bring him along for the ride. Maltin & Bann list Elmer the Monkey, but a publicity photo reveals that this is a different monkey.
mule 111
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann list Dinah the Mule, but it isn't her. When the mule gets drunk, it runs off and leaves the taxi without motor power.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
Pete the Pup IV
He's not in the film, but at least one publicity photo reveals his presence during production.
other animals
Bit parts. There are at least ten ducks that get run over by the taxi.

the adults:

Lillian Rich as Dickie's mother
Supporting role. She refuses to believe that Dickie's neck brace should be removed.
Creighton Hale as "Creighton," Dickie's father
Supporting role. He agrees with the doctor and not his wife.
Estelle Ettere as Dickie's nurse
Small part. The 1977 edition lists her as Belle Hare. She wrestles with Dickie, much to the dismay of his mother.
Johnnie Mae Beard as Stymie's mom
Small part. She's Stymie's real-life mother, and sends him to Dickie's house. The cutting continuity refers to her as "Mammy." She worked on July 21st.
Wilfred Lucas as the specialist
Small part. He examines Dickie and concludes that the boy needs to get out and exercise. The cutting continuity refers to him as "Doctor." He worked on July 22nd.
Cy Slocum, Ham Kinsey, Bob Minford, Ernie Alexander, Harry Bernard and Harry Wilde as the roadside workers
Bit parts. This is deduced from the payroll ledgers, which show these six names, all making ten dollars, and all working only on July 25th. Bernard is the last one to get socked. It appears that the third one who gets socked is Dick Gilbert, but he's not in the ledger. It also seems likely that these six men are the six seen running from the tires, since the ledger doesn't reveal enough additional names to account for them.
Ivar Atcher as the one of the little people working under the car
Bit part. His name appears in the ledger along with that of Al Mineaux, both of whom made $7.50 on July 25th, right below the six listed above. I haven't found any other reference to Mineaux, but I suspect he's the other little person.
other adults
Bit parts. Somebody named H.J. Garner worked for six days on this film, and I suspect he was hidden from view, operating the taxi. Other names in the ledger are Sidney Hooke and Tim O'Donell.
(1.) The black maid. The ledger lists somebody named Theresa Miaze, which is the only female name unaccounted for, so this is probably her.
(2.) The truck driver.
(3.) The man by the lamppost who gets socked, who Maltin & Bann list as Robert A. McGowan. I agree that it looks like him, though the ledger would indicate that he was present as a crew member rather than as an actor.
(4.) The cop sent into the air, who Maltin & Bann list as Jack Hill, who is indeed listed in the ledger.
(5.) The balloon vendor.

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A1.) This is played over the opening titles and as we're introduced to Dickie and his nurse. Most of it is repeated as the parents arrive at the haystack and the end title appears.
"Intermezzo" by Leroy Shield
This is played as Dickie's nurse fools him into taking castor oil.
"Bride's Song" by Leroy Shield
This is played as Dickie fools his nurse into taking castor oil.
"In My Canoe" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Most of this piece is played as Dickie wrestles with the nurse and we're introduced to his parents. This is the version that was reproduced on the first Beau Hunks CD.
"Beautiful Lady" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. This is played as we first see the taxi and Dorothy gets on board. The first half is repeated as Brisbane tells the little kids to dig up some dough.
"Carolina Moon" by Benny Davis and Joe Burke
Published in 1928. Gene Austin had a number one hit with this song in 1929. This is sung by Stymie over the taxi intercom.
"Little Dancing Girl" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Also known as "Dancing Girl" and "Dancing Girls." A short bit of this piece is played as the taxi bats Bobby Mallon out of the way. Another portion is played as the mule gets drunk and Dickie hops on board. This is the version reproduced on the first Beau Hunks CD.
"Blue Blue" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Most of this piece is played as Stymie talks to his mother. This is the slower version.
"Prelude" by Leroy Shield
The beginning of this piece is played as the doctor examines Dickie. A long portion from the middle is played as Stymie listens in on the doctor and Dickie's parents.
"Dash And Dot" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted 1930. A small bit of this piece is played as Stymie talks to the maid. It's played in its entirety as the mule runs off.
"Teeter-Totter" by Leroy Shield
This is played without the introduction and partially repeated as the little kids take money from the monkey. A short bit is repeated after the taxi goes through the haystack.
"Bells" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. A portion of this piece is played as Stymie attaches the taxi to the truck.
"Hide And Go Seek" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Dec. 23, 1930. A portion of this piece is played as the truck pulls the taxi up the hill.
"Sliding" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Aug. 13, 1931. Also known as "Swells." This is played twice as the taxi races down the hill.

the locations:

Motor Avenue, Palms district, Los Angeles
It appears that most of the early footage with the taxi was shot along this street. One of the first shots shows the taxi passing the northwest corner of Motor Avenue and Woodbine Street, with the bench at the corner seen to best effect in "The Love Bug" (no. 37). The People's Water Company at 3392 Motor Avenue (on the northeast corner of the same intersection) can be seen in the shot in which Bobby Mallon gets paddled. Also seen in this shot is the Masonic Temple at 3402 Motor. Dorothy waits for the taxi in front of the house at 3451 Motor Avenue. Also seen in this shot is the house at 3447.
Overland Avenue
This is where the taxi drives into the haystack, as revealed by the street sign visible in the shot. The longshot directly before this is of the same location, and reveals it to be at the bottom of a hill. The only sizable hill on this street would be just north of Rose Avenue, which was at the time called Featherstone Avenue.
Irene Street
Dickie's house was located on this street at the spot where Motor Avenue winds around the right side of it. The number appears to be 10403, which jibes well with the current numbering system. I'm pretty sure that the portion of the film involving the mule running away was also shot on Irene Street. When the mule turns the corner, she's heading south on Motor.


10 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Seven weeks had passed since shooting finished for "Hook And Ladder" (no. 116). The studio was closed during one of those weeks. The 'start' date for "Free Wheeling" arrived on July 19th, and shooting continued until the 'finish' date of July 27th. Included in the shooting schedule was a rare working Sunday on July 24th. Three days after the finish date, shooting began for "Birthday Blues" (no. 118) and continued for nearly a week. After this, four weeks passed (including one week of studio closure) before shooting resumed. On Sep. 3rd, retakes were shot for "Free Wheeling," with the studio datebook entry reading 'exterior in car.' On this same date, shooting began for "A Lad An' A Lamp" (no. 119).

According to The Hollywood Reporter of July 11, 1932, production on this film was delayed for three weeks because Paramount wasn't finished with Dickie yet in their production of "Blonde Venus."

Nurse: "You little rascal, you!"

The truck is owned by Webb's Transfer Co.

Reel one ends as Spanky and Jacquie are on the grass with the monkey.

A story version of this film, entitled "Free-Wheeling," appeared in the book Our Gang Annual in 1933.

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B428.


The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 6 (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 19:34. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.
The Little Rascals Volume 6: Collector's Edition (VHS) from Hallmark Home Entertainment
Released Aug. 15, 2000. Also included as part of The Little Rascals Volumes 1-10: Collector's Edition (10 VHS set), released Aug. 15, 2000.
The Little Rascals Remastered & Unedited Vol. 5 & Vol. 6 (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 Digitally Remastered - Collector's Edition III (DVD) from Hallmark Home Entertainment
Released Nov. 15, 2005. This derives from the Cabin Fever release.
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 three clips from this film included in the documentary The Story Of Hal Roach And Our Gang.
Superstars Of Our Gang (DVD) from Genius Entertainment
Released Mar. 27, 2007. Also included as part of The Little Rascals In Color! (3 DVD set). This is a Famous Kids Comedies print from Official Films, included both as a colorized print, and in the original black-and-white. The original footage totals 19:00, while the original soundtrack totals 19:28. The picture quality is very good.
Rascal Dazzle (VHS/LD) from Embassy Home Entertainment
Original film released 1981. Video released 1984. A clip lasting 0:08 is included, showing the taxi and Stymie inside the engine compartment, with music and narration added. Another clip lasting 0:07 is included, showing the roadside workers getting socked, with music added.
Jackie Remembers Our Gang - Memories From Little Rascals Family Theater (VHS/DVD) from Jackie Taylor
A clip lasting 0:30 is included, showing the gang's taxi, with Stymie narrating.

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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, and location info)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)

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