Aladdin's Lantern

film no. 172

technical details:

Production 2573. The script is numbered B922.

Release no. C-931.

Filmed July 20 to 26, 1938. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted September 14, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8329. Renewed September 14, 1965, with registration no. R368910. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

Released September 17, 1938. It was the 172nd film in the series to be released, and the first of the 1938/39 season.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 4 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Aladdin's Lantern".'

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.
Screenplay by Hal Law and Robert A. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial.
Musical Direction by David Snell
This credit appears in the film.
Dances Staged by Bud Murray
This credit appears in the film.
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
Certificate no. 4607.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
direction - George Sidney was almost certainly involved in the making of this film, even if he didn't do any actual directing. Gordon Douglas was on loan from the Roach studio, no doubt to ready Sidney to take over the series, and after this film Douglas went back to Roach.
animal training - Tony Campanaro was probably among the animal trainers.

the kids:

featured kids
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Featured role. He plays Aladdin in the play and sings while sitting over a flame.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He initially plays the Caliph, but then has to take over Darla's role.
Eugene "Porky" Lee
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He and Buckwheat are supposed to play the palace guards, but keep interrupting the show with a song-and-dance.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He accompanies Porky throughout the film.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She walks out on the show because of Buckwheat and Porky.
Darwood Kaye
Small part. He controls the technical gadgets backstage. Maltin & Bann indicate that the "Waldo" moniker was used, and he clearly plays this role, but the name never turns up in the dialogue.

other performers
Billy Mindy
Small part. Also known as Billy Minderhout. He plays the genie.
Joe "Corky" Geil
Small part. He's the tophatted leader of the tapdancers. He's also seen in the back row of the audience, to the far left.
Verna Dillon
Small part. She's the tapdancing girl to the right of Darla.
Peggy Lynch
Small part. She's the tapdancing girl to the left of Darla.
Gloria Brown
Small part. She's second from the right among the tapdancing girls.
Rae-Nell Laskey
Small part. She's at the far right among the tapdancing girls.
Pricilla Montgomery
Small part. She's second from the left among the tapdancing girls.
Doris Bottini
Small part. She's among the tapdancing girls, and I think she might be at the far left.
Ardith Dondanville
Small part. She's among the tapdancing girls, and I think she might be to the left of Peggy Lynch.

audience members
Leonard Landy
Small part. He sells tickets, and then sits in the right aisle seat of the front row. The final version of the script referred to his character as "Deacon."
Gary Jasgur
Small part. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Gary Jasgar. The scripts refer to him as "Gary." He sells tickets with Leonard, and then sits next to him during the show.
Bobby Callahan
Extra. It appears that he's in the first aisle seat on the left.
Dix Davis
Extra. He's sitting directly behind Leonard.
Tim Davis
Extra. He's sitting directly behind Gary.
boy 161b
Extra. He's sitting to the right of Gary.
Laura June Williams
Extra. She's sitting in the second row on the left side, two seats from the aisle.
Pete Troncale
Extra. He might be the boy in the second row on the right, sitting as far to the right as the picture will show.
Harold Switzer
Extra. He's sitting in the second-to-last row on the left side, third seat from the aisle.
Henry Lee
Extra. He's in the last row on the left side, second seat from the aisle. He's listed in the 1977 edition of Maltin & Bann's book, and in Maltin's earlier The Great Movie Shorts, as Alvin Buckelew.
Joe Levine
Extra. He's in the aisle seat in the back row, right next to Henry Lee.
Dorothy Heinrichs
Extra. She's on the left side, two rows ahead of Joe Geil.
Marylyn Astor Thorpe
Extra. Listed by Maltin & Bann. At the very least, she visited the set, as corroborated by a contemporary news item. However, I'm not yet familiar with her.

other kids
Small parts and extras.
(1.) Three additional dancing girls. The July 30th Evening Vanguard of Venice, CA, gives a list 10 dancing girls, though only 8 actually took part in the number. In addition to those listed above are Patricia Carlton, Norma Del Fincia and Dorothy Hendricks. Presumably two of these had to settle for being audience members. Priscilla Montgomery is mistakenly listed as Patricia Montgomery, so perhaps Dorothy Hendricks is actually audience member Dorothy Heinrichs.
(2.) At least thirty additional kids in the audience.

the animals:

Elmer the Monkey as "Elmer"
Supporting role. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. He assists Buckwheat and Porky backstage.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
Pete the Pup IV
He's not actually in the film, but he appears in a photograph showing the kids in costume for this film.

the adults:

There are no adults in this film.

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.
"Oriental Dance" by David Snell
This is played as we see the kids clamouring to get in to see the show.
"While Strolling In The Park One Day (The Fountain In The Park)" by Ed Haley and Robert A. Keiser
Published in 1884. The cutting continuity refers to this song as "Strolling Through The Park" with an arrangement by David Snell. This is sung three times by Porky and Buckwheat.
"I'm The Genii" by David Snell
This is the short song sung by the genie.
"Your Broadway And Mine" by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Music by Brown and lyrics by Freed. From the film "Broadway Melody Of 1938." This is sung by Darla. This song had previously been sung by Ada Lynn in footage deleted from "Our Gang Follies Of 1938" (no. 162).
"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" by Thomas P. Westendorf
Written in 1875. This was a number six hit for Will Oakland in 1912, and a number three hit for Walter Van Brunt in 1916. In this film, it's sung by Alfalfa, but as "I'll Take You Home Again, Darleen," with an arrangement credit going to David Snell.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."

unused music
"A Bird In A Gilded Cage" by Harry Von Tilzer and Arthur J. Lamb
Published in 1900 with music by Von Tilzer and lyrics by Lamb. Both Jere Mahoney and Steve Porter had number one hits with this song the same year. Originally, this was the song planned to be sung by Alfalfa.
"Dinah" by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young and Harry Akst
Ethel Waters had a number two hit with this song in 1926. In 1932, both Bing Crosby & The Mills Brothers had a number one hit with it. This song was included in one version of the script.
"The Sneak!" by Nacio Herb Brown
Published in 1922. In one version of the script, Spanky plays the genie, and sings to the tune of this song.


Six shooting dates went into the making of this film between July 20th and 26th. Presumably, no shooting took place on July 24th, which was a Sunday. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
June 14 - A 'new treatment', written by Law and McGowan, carries this date. "Gary" is featured a bit more in the early part of the story, unlike his purely 'extra' role in the finished film.
June 17 - A tentative continuity by Law and McGowan carries this date. At this point, "Aladdin's Lantern" was considered the working title. "Gary" is still featured near the beginning of the film, while "Slug" is the kid holding the mule as it's hooked up to the magic carpet. The mule is referred to as "Dinah." Buckwheat is sometimes referred to as "Buck" for short. Alfalfa sings two songs in this version, the first of which is "I'm Only A Bird In A Gilded Cage."
June 18 - A Law and McGowan document from this date contains three alternate finishes for the film.
June 21 - A revised continuity by McGowan and Law carries this date. "Aladdin's Lantern" was still considered a working title. "Gary" still has a featured bit early in the film, and "Only A Bird In A Gilded Cage" is still the featured song.
June 23, 24 and 29 - The vault copy of this script, okayed by Jack Chertok, was written on these three dates by McGowan and Law. Spanky plays the genie in this version and sings to the tune of "The Sneak." The song goes on longer than it does in the finished film. Another fat kid plays the Caliph. The June 24th component of this script includes "Only A Bird In A Gilded Cage" and "Dinah."
July 13 - A McGowan and Law vault copy carries this date. In this version, the film opens with a parade. "Gary" and "Deacon" share the featured bit early in the film. "Deacon" is the nickname given for Leonard Landy, who delivers his usual 'phooey' in the dialogue. The audience protests Spanky when he takes over Darla's role. The songs include "Your Broadway And Mine," "While Strolling Thru The Park One Day" and "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen."

The gang's production company is called Spanky and Alfalfa and Co., and their production is called "Alladin And His Magic Lamp."

In the July 12th Fresno Bee, it's stated that MGM had been looking for a new leader for Our Gang, and decided to bring Spanky back into the fold. He had recently finished a personal appearance tour.

The August 9th Portland Press Herald (of Portland, Maine) reported the following: "Alfalfa greeted Spanky back to the Our Gang set, by placing a banana peel just outside the latter's dressing room. Both are appearing in 'Aladdin's Lantern.'"

The August 26th Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the following: "Our Gang welcomed Spanky MacFarland(sic) back to their fold by all piling on him and blacking his face for his role in the newest Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer comedy, "Aladdin's Lantern," before Spanky could catch his breath. Alfalfa led the assault."

On July 26th, columnist W.A.S. of the Argus-Leader of Sioux Falls, SD, having returned from a visit to the MGM studios in Culver City, wrote the following: "We watched some of the filming of the first 'Our Gang' comedy to be made on the big lot. All the others were made by Hal Roach and released through M-G-M. We recognized 'Alfalfa,' Spanky McFarland and 'Buckwheat,' the Negro lad, whose hair was standing up as if he had just had a bad scare. We heard Spanky get bawled out for forgetting to wear his hat. The scene was in the court of Sultan Spanky, and a red-haired tap dancer who looked a little like Rae Lalley, Sioux Falls singer, was hoofing away in front of a line of plump little dancing girls. The girls were cute, but no better dancers than we have seen in some of those trying amateur things back home. The director was trying to make them smile by calling them old 'sourpusses'."

A syndicated news item of Sep. 4th describes Mary Astor taking time between scenes in "Listen, Darling" to take her daughter Marilyn to visit the Our Gang soundstage. They were able to watch several scenes being shot for "Aladdin's Lantern," and met Spanky, Alfalfa, Darla, and the others.

At the termination of his loan-out to MGM on Aug. 8th, Gordon Douglas returned to the Roach studio.

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)
Bob Satterfield (for identifying Priscilla Montgomery)
Debby Mendelsohn (for verifying the spelling of Gary Jasgur's last name)
bigshotjones (for researching Gary Jasgur and getting discussion started on this matter)
Steven Wright (for pointing out Joe Levine).

The Lucky Corner Homepage