The Little Ranger

film no. 170

technical details:

Production 2566. The script is numbered B915.

Release no. C-741.

Filmed June 20 to 25, 1938.

Released August 6, 1938. It was the 170th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted August 10, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8218. Renewed August 10, 1965, with registration no. R366457. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 38 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "The Little Ranger".'

the crew:

Produced by Jack Chertok for M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated.
Directed by Gordon Douglas
This credit appears in the film.
Photographed by Robert Pittack, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Screen Play by Hal Law and Robert A. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Indicated in the opening title card.
Western Electric Sound System
As indicated in the film.
Approved by the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa" aka "Fearless Alfalfa"
Lead role. Butch repeatedly calls him "Beetle-Eyes." He falls asleep in the theater and dreams of defending Darla from Butch.
Tommy Bond as "Butch" aka "Butch Dalton"
Featured role. He's Alfalfa's rival both in the dream and in the waking world.
Shirley Coates as "Muggsy"
Supporting role. She's infatuated with Alfalfa and saves his life during the dream sequence.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She snubs Alfalfa in favor of Butch.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Supporting role. He's the '1st sheref' in the dream sequence.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He's the '2nd sheref' in the dream sequence.
Sidney Kibrick as "Woim"
Small part. He sits behind Darla in the theater, and is then Butch's second-in-command during the dream sequence.
Darwood Kaye
Small part. Maltin & Bann indicate that he plays "Waldo" in this film, and this is very apparent, even though the name is never used in the dialogue. He sits behind Butch in the theater, and then is the minister in the dream sequence.
Henry Lee
Small part. He's the second of the bad guys to get bonked on the head by Porky. The 1977 edition of Maltin & Bann's book, and Maltin's earlier The Great Movie Shorts list Alvin Buckelew.
Pete Troncale
Small part. He's the third bad guy to get bonked.
Joe "Corky" Geil
Small part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. He's the fourth bad guy to get bonked.
Tim Davis
Small part. He's the blonde boy in Butch's gang that gets konked on the head.
Calvin Robert Ellison
Small part. He's the member of Butch's gang that ties up Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Porky.
Dix Davis
Small part. He's at the other end of the rope that ties up our three heroes.
Harold Switzer
Extra. He's a member of Butch's gang.
Joe Levine
Extra. He's a member of Butch's gang.
Grace Bohanon
Extra. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She sits in front of Darla and Butch in the theater. It seems apparent that this is who Maltin & Bann were thinking of when they listed Becky Bohanon, who doesn't seem to be in the film.
other kids
(1.) Two more boys in Butch's gang. Maltin & Bann list Tommy McFarland, but I'm not able to spot him in this film.
(2.) Dozens of kids in the theater.

the animals:

horse 165 as "Flash"
Small part. This is the horse with the backbone problem ridden by Buckwheat and Porky.
mule 170 as "Priscilla"
Bit part. This is Muggsy's mule.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Small parts and bit parts.
(1.) Alfalfa's horse, "Sterling."
(2.) Six horses ridden by the members of Butch's gang. Some or all of these may be the same horses ridden by the bad guys in the Fearless Bill movie, of which there are at least four.

the adults:

Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) "Fearless Bill."
(2.) "Little Nell."
(3.) The girl working in the box office.
(4.) The four bad guys in the movie.
(5.) The theater usher.
(6.) Two dozen or so adults in the theater audience.

the music:

"Our Gang" by David Snell
This is played over the opening titles. This is a medley of three songs:
(1.) "London Bridge" - The earliest reference to this nursery rhyme is in a play from 1659, and it was associated with children by 1720. It may derive from a part of the "Heimskringla" by Snorri Sturluson, which was composed around 1225.
(2.) "Mulberry Bush" - Also known as "So Early In The Morning" and "This Is The Way." It was probably originally called "Here We Go Round The Bramble Tree" in the mid 18th century, with the type of tree changed by inmates of Wakefield Prison, who exercised around a mulberry bush.
(3.) "The Farmer In The Dell" - This nursery rhyme is of uncertain origins.
"A Melody From The Sky" by Sidney D. Mitchell and Louis Alter
Published in 1936 and introduced in the film "Trail Of The Lonesome Pine." This was a number one hit for Jan Garber & His Orchestra the same year. In "The Little Ranger," it's sung by Fearless Bill and Fearless Alfalfa.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
A seldom-heard ending version is played, which starts with "Ring Around The Rosie," as Alfalfa and Muggsy leave the theater and the end title appears. "Ring Around The Rosie" is alternately known as "Ring-A-Ring Of Roses," and probably originated some time prior to 1790, although it first appeared in print in 1881. Also included in the arrangement are "London Bridge" and "Mulberry Bush."


Six shooting dates went into the making of this film, from June 20 to 25, 1938. The script was approved June 8, 1938, with amendments on June 9th and 13th.

The working title of this film was "Gun With The Wind," which had previously been the working title for "Fishy Tales" (no. 158). On June 26th, United Press reported that the original title was dropped after MGM gained the distribution rights to "Gone With The Wind."

Originally, the Roach studio was supposed to produce two more Our Gang shorts before their distribution contract with MGM ended. Therefore, this would have been production K-23, had it been made by Roach. It isn't at all clear whether or not McGowan and Law wrote this script while still employed by Roach, but there is the distinct possibility that this would have been the next Roach short in the series.

On July 10th, Douglas W. Churchill reported the following in his syndicated column: "Metro is smiling through clenched teeth and wondering whether it did just the right thing in acquiring the Our Gang children. But four members of the Gang are left - Darla Hood, Alfalfa Switzer, Porky Lee and Buckwheat Thomas - which is probably just as well, for the entire Gang might completely disrupt the tranquility of the lot. The kids feel that they must act off-screen as they do on, and when they were introduced to the studio at lunch the first day, they threw ice-cream on the press agent who was their host. The parents are a problem as well. They want the name of each child to become a household word in America and they have demanded that pictures be made of them with the biggest stars."

The film-within-a-film is called "Fearless Bill Rides Again."

Butch's hideout is called 'Butch's Hide Out.'

According to the Apr. 15, 1998, Star Tribune of Minneapolis, MN, Porky had a wooden stand-in during the making of this film.

See page 235 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits.

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Steven R. Wright (for identifying Joe Levine)

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