Ask Grandma

film no. 38

technical details:

Production A-38.

Filmed probably in late December 1924 and early January 1925. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted April 2, 1925, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU21304. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Released May 31, 1925. It was the 39th film in the series to be released.

A 33-second excerpt from this film was included as part of The Boy Friends comedy "Too Many Women." This footage does not show up in the available prints of "Ask Grandma."

Silent two-reeler.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "Ask Grandma".'

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1030, "Grandma Knows Best," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17335.

the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Probably credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without his middle initial.
Assistant Director: Lloyd French
This credit derives from French's payroll status as the Our Gang assistant director during this period.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film.
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film.
Props by Charles Oelze and G. D. Abbott
This credit derives from their payroll status as Our Gang prop men during this period. Maltin & Bann specifically credit Oelze with the airplane ride shown in this film.
Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit probably doesn't appear in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
Passed by the National Board of Review
Probably 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
publicity director - Garrett Graham
purchasing agent - Clyde Hopkins
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
possible uncredited involvement
supervision - F. Richard Jones became director-general of the studio after this film was shot, but before it was released.
writing - Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer, Frank Terry and James Parrott may have contributed gags. Maltin & Bann indicate that Leo McCarey and Frank Capra were contributing gags during this period, but McCarey was busy with the Charley Chase unit and Capra had left the studio by this time.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.

the kids:

main players
Mickey Daniels as "Mickey" aka "Michael," and as "Martha" as a kid
Lead role. Grandma calls him "Steve" while they're playing ball, but this is probably a baseball player's name. He's the star of the film, torn between pleasing his mother and being a real boy. He also has a brief role as his mother as a child.
Johnny Downs as "Johnnie"
Featured role. He's the bully that finally causes Mickey to forsake his mother's wishes and fight.
Mary Kornman as "Mary"
Featured role. She's the object of the dispute between Mickey and Johnnie.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Supporting role. The nickname doesn't appear in these prints. He has a relatively small role in this, but gets some comic moments during the fight.
Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Supporting role. He's initially the one getting picked on, and Mickey comes to his defense.
Jean Johnston
Supporting role. She's the girl who hangs out with Mary through most of the film.
Jackie Condon
Supporting role. He does mostly ensemble acting in this film.
George "Sonny Boy" Warde
Supporting role. He does mostly ensemble acting in this film.
boy 032
Supporting role. He's the blonde boy at the fight.
Clarke Robinson
Supporting role. He's one of the remaining boys at the fight.
other kids
Supporting roles.
Three additional boys, a tall one, a short one and a toddler, that appear in the scenes with the airplane ride and the fight. The payroll ledger reveals these, along with boys 028 and 032, to be Clarke Robinson, David Campbell, Jack Campbell, Dick Gilbert, Jr. and Charles Harkness.

boys from the past
David Sharpe
Bit part. According to Maltin & Bann, who identify him as the largest of the boys in the flashback scene, and the one that Mickey-in-drag picks a fight with. Mickey actually fights all four. The available print makes it hard to verify, but it could very well be him. He's tall enough that he may also provide the stunt double work in this film, as he did in the parallel scenes in "Fly My Kite" (no. 107).
Gabe Saenz
Bit part. Yet another appearance for this prolific peripheral kid.
other boys
Bit parts. Two remaining boys are in the flashback scene. One of them looks like the boy from "The Big Show" (no. 7) that resembles Johnny Downs.

kids at the ballet class
Bit parts and extras. A publicity photo reveals that nine girls were present at the ballet class, and a scrutiny of the opening shots bears this out. There are also four boys in these shots, though we're given a better look at them several seconds later.

the animals:

Bit part. This is a small black cat that causes the shutter to roll up. Possibly the cat from "Fire Fighters" (no. 2).

the adults:

Florence Lee as "Grandma"
Featured role. She's featured very strongly in this short, providing Mickey with most of the happiness in his life.
Lyle Tayo as "Martha," Mickey's mom
Supporting role. She's the cause of Mickey's frustration, but changes her mind when she sees her son fight.
Noah Young as Johnnie's dad
Small part. He's the thuggish guy that holds Mickey back so Johnnie can beat on him. Grandma knocks him for a loop.
Katherine Grant as the ballet instructor
Small part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She's seen briefly at the beginning of the film.
other adults
Small parts and extras.
(1.) The stunt double for Grandma. This may well be David Sharpe, as he was fairly tall by this time.
(2.) Mickey's dad, shown only in a photograph.
(3.) At least five other mothers are shown at the ballet class.
(4.) A second ballet instructor.

the locations:

Motor Avenue and Woodbine Street, Palms district, Los Angeles
The vacant lot at the southwest corner of this intersection is the location of Johnny's airplane ride, and is also where the big fight takes place. Seen in various shots are the Masonic Hall at 3402 Motor, the backyard of the home on Mentone Avenue often used in this series, and buildings on the block directly to the north, including the house featured in "The Old Wallop" (no. 68).
the back porch
Appears to be the same one used in "Dr. Jack" and "The Kid From Borneo."


The 1924 and 1925 studio datebooks don't mention production A-38, which was "Ask Grandma." However, it seems likely that the film began as part of "The Love Bug" (no. 37), since the two have many similarities. Or perhaps the person writing the production numbers into the datebooks made an error. See the page for "The Love Bug" for more details.

Mickey reads The Book Of The Dance by Arnold Genthe.

He and Grandma read Wild West Weekly.

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


Our Gang Volume #2 (VHS) from Grapevine Video and also from The Picture Palace
This copy has an illustrated main title card replacing the original, but otherwise has the original inter-titles. It retains the title "Ask Grandma." The picture quality is fairly poor. The print totals 17:40, with 17:24 of it original footage. It appears that most of the original film is included. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.
Our Gang Silent Comedies Volume 12 (VHS) from Video Classics
This copy is essentially the same as Grapevine's.
Our Gang Silent Comedies #2 (VHS) from Nostalgia Family Video
This copy is a TV print from the Mischief Makers series entitled "Grandma Knows Best." This print includes the TV show's opening and closing theme song. The picture quality is fairly good, and there is a little bit not included in the other available version. The print totals 13:20, with 12:09 of it original footage. Roughly two-thirds of the original film is included. This version has appeared on at least one bootleg release.
Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 1 (VHS) from HenryButch
This is the same version as the one released by Grapevine.
The Original Comedy Classics
Released 1999. Contains six Our Gang shorts in addition to films starring other people.

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© 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)
Matthew Lydick (for the correct spelling of Gabe Saenz's last name)

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