Men In Fright

film no. 173

technical details:

Production 2580.

Release no. C-932.

Filmed August 15 to 20, 1938.

Released October 15, 1938. It was the 173rd film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted October 21, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8424. Renewed October 21, 1965, with registration no. R371091. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 28 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Men In Fright".'

the crew:

Produced by Jack Chertok for M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated.
Directed by George Sidney
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.
Original Story by Carl Dudley and Marty Schwartz
This credit appears in the film.
Music by Dave Snell
This credit derives from the copyright registration.
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
photography - probably the work of either Robert Pittack or Clyde DeVinna.
animation - probably the work of the MGM animation department, headed by Robert Quimby. The department had been in operation for nearly a year at this point, with William Hanna and Robert Allen directing. It's possible that Isadore "Friz" Freleng was still directing as well, but he returned to Warner Brothers around this time.

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Lead role. He's the '2nd cheirman' of The Sick Comity. He switches places with another boy and gets a dose of laughing gas on his way to the operating room.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Supporting role. He's the '1st cheirman,' and has most of the dialogue among the remaining boys.
Gary Jasgur
Supporting role. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Gary Jasgar. He stows away in the elevator and turns on the laughing gas.
Darla Hood as "Darla Hood"
Supporting role. The gang visits her in the hospital.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He's the '4th cheirman,' and mostly does ensemble acting.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Supporting role. He's the '3rd cheirman,' and mostly does ensemble acting.
Leonard Landy
Supporting role. He's a silent character in this film, and does nothing more than accompany the other boys.
Moyer "Sonny" Bupp as "Junior" aka "Sonny"
Small part. He's the boy that switches places with Alfalfa. The "Junior" nickname is revealed by a 1938 casting directory, but isn't used in the actual film. At one point, Jack Rice calls Alfalfa "Sonny" while thinking that he's the other boy, so perhaps this is a roundabout way of revealing the character name.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Jack Rice as "Charlie," one of the hospital orderlies
Small part. He's the orderly that wheels Alfalfa into the elevator and gets overcome with laughing gas.
Ray Turner as the elevator operator
Small part. He's also a victim of the laughing gas.
Mary MacLaren as one of the nurses
Small part. She's the nurse that brings ice cream to the kids.
Margaret Bert as one of the nurses
Small part. She's the nurse at the front desk.
Barbara Bedford as Sonny's mom
Bit part. She's seen with her son and one of the nurses.
Bess Flowers as Darla's mom
Bit part. She's seen with Darla as the sick boys are wheeled down the hall.
Don Castle as "Mack," one of the hospital orderlies
Bit part. He's seen briefly with Jack Rice.
Nell Craig as the maternity ward nurse
Bit part. She screams and runs when she finds Alfalfa in one of the cribs.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) The older nurse with Sonny and his mom.
(2.) The doctor that studies the boys' x-rays.
(3.) The orderly that wheels the boys down the hall at the end of the film.
(4.) The man with the nightshirt hanging out of the back of his clothes.
(5.) The voice over the intercom at the end of the film.
(6.) The telephone operator at the beginning of the 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.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."

the locations:

Los Angeles County General Hospital
This is shown in the opening shot. This facility is bounded by Zonal Avenue, Marengo Street, North State Street, North Chicago Street and North Cummings Street.


Six shooting dates went into the making of this film, from August 15 to 20, 1938.

The title is a take-off on "Men In White."

The gang's club is called the Third Ward Sunshine Spredders Club. The six boys are specifically members of The Sick Comity.

In his syndicated column of August 12th, Jimmie Fidler described the following, which presumably happened shortly before this film was made: "Visiting with those two distinguished thespians, Spanky McFarland and 'Alfalfa,' today, when a cameraman interrupted, wishing to make publicity stills. After groping for a 'gag' idea, he suggested that they might be fighting. 'Why should we?' demanded Spanky. 'We're friends.' The photographer assured him that it would only be pretense for publicity's sweet sake and trouper McFarland finally gave a grudging 'okay.' And with that squared off and knocked Alfalfa down - but not out - with a single punch. I don't know whether the still man got his pictures or not - I was too busy trying to stop the ensuing - and not pretended - fight to notice."

On August 26th, Edith Lindeman of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the following: "It's a good thing I don't have to go out this evening. I am utterly exhausted after an hour on the Our Gang set. Also, I'm a little overcome with admiration for a young man named George Sidney, who, at the great age of 23, is directing seven rambunctious youngsters in a mad short feature called 'Men With Fright.'
"When first I saw him, he was instructing 2½-year-old Garry in the art of pushing his baby figure under a hospital stretcher and pretending to walk along under it. Garry doesn't to any talking, and he does less listening. The only way that Mr. Sidney could get him to do as the script said was to go through the motions himself and make the affair so delightfully attractive that Garry just couldn't restrain himself from joining in. There's another difficulty about that sort of thing, though. Once Garry had become imbued with the beauty of climbing under hospital stretchers, he didn't want to do anything else. Consequently, he had to be taken home by his father, who is always on the set. Tomorrow, with the stretcher out of the way, they'll bring him back and George Sidney will show him how to do something else with an equal thrill for his baby mind."
Elsewhere it says: "Twice a month, the Our Gang studios hold auditions for any one who cares to bring their children. In that way they keep in touch with any youngsters who look promising. When there are scenes in which a number of kids are used, they come from this auditioned and accepted group."
Also: "The kids don't mind making movies, but they don't like to pose for stills. If they are needed for a strip of portraits or a set of publicity shots, they have to know ahead of time just exactly how many poses will be taken. When that number are shot, there's no power on earth that will keep them quiet a moment longer."

A press item of Aug. 22nd mentions that Spanky had been added to the cast of "Peck's Bad Boy With The Circus." It seems likely that this feature was shot between the productions of "Men In Fright" and "Football Romeo" (no. 174).

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)
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 identifying the hospital)

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