Football Romeo

film no. 174

technical details:

Production 2589. The script is numbered B937.

Release no. C-933.

Filmed September 19 to 24, 1938. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Released November 12, 1938. It was the 174th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted November 16, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8483. Renewed November 17, 1965, with registration no. R373513. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

Cutting continuity submitted Dec. 7, 1938.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 22 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Football Romeo".' This is the first episode to show the relief of the MGM lion during the opening titles.

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.
Photographed by Clyde DeVinna, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Screen Play by Hal Law, Robert A. McGowan, Jack White and SamBaerwitz
This credit appears in the film, but without White's name, or McGowan's middle initial. White's credit derives from the pressbook and surviving scripts. Baerwitz wrote the announcers' dialogue.
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. 4733.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa" aka "Alf"
Lead role. Darla calls him "Hermit Alfalfa." He wears the number 9 on his uniform. He lives as a hermit until Darla threatens to share his love letter with the entire grandstand at the gang's football game. Since the note is tied to the football, Alfalfa has no choice but to enter the game.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She takes advice from Alfalfa's mother to win her man back.
Tommy Bond as "Butch" aka "Butchy-Wutchy" aka "Captain Butch"
Supporting role. He's the captain of the opposing team, and Alfalfa's rival.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky" aka "Captain Spanky"
Supporting role. He's the captain of the gang's team.
Harold and Jerry Shaw
Supporting roles. They're the announcers at the game.
Leonard Landy as "Phooey"
Supporting role. He wears a large '0' on his jersey, and the word 'sub,' and substitutes for Alfalfa at left guard.
Joe "Corky" Geil
Supporting role. He's the referee.
Eugene "Porky" Lee
Supporting role. He does mostly ensemble acting in this film, but is present in all the scenes with Spanky.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Supporting role. He's also in the scenes with Spanky and Porky, but doesn't do much of anything specific.
Gary Jasgur as "Gary"
Supporting role. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Gary Jasgar. He's the team mascot and sends the message from Darla to Alfalfa.
Sidney Kibrick as "The Woim"
Small part. He's the quarterback of Butch's team and wears the number 8 on his jersey.
Floyd Fisher
Small part. A 1938 casting directory states that he appeared in this film. He's a member of Butch's Assasins. In the first shot showing the team standing together, he's standing to the left of Butch.
Joe Levine
Small part. He's a member of Butch's team.
Roger McGee
Small part. He plays the scorekeeper.
boy 174
Bit part. This is the time keeper.
Norman Salling
Extra. He sits in the front row to the left of Alfalfa's mother.
Charline Flanders
Extra. It appears that she's the girl sitting to the right of Darla in the stands.
other kids
Small parts, bit parts and extras. A 1938 casting directory states that Morris Grace, Jr., Buddy Bowles, Bruce Grant, Becky Bohanon and Corrine Varian all appeared in this film, but I can't spot them anywhere. Maltin & Bann list Robert Winckler, but I'm not able to spot him, either.
(1.) Presumably seven more members of the Our Gang team.
(2.) Presumably eight more members of Butch's team.
(3.) Probably at least 45 more kids in the stands.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
The only remaining animal in the film is Alfalfa's pet parrot, unless you count the dead fish on Gary's line, numbering at least five.

the adults:

Barbara Bedford as "Mrs. Switzer," Alfalfa's mom
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann indicate that she plays Darla's mom, but this is clearly not the case. She provides moral support for Alfalfa and good advice for Darla.

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.
"Whistle Improvisation"
This uncredited item is actually listed in the cutting continuity. It refers to Butch's off-the-cuff whistling at the start of the film.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."

unused music
"Alone" by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Written in 1935 for the Marx Brothers film "A Night At The Opera," with music by Brown and lyrics by Freed. Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra had a number one hit with this song in 1936. In early scripts for "Football Romeo," Alfalfa sings this song to prove that there is something he can do better than Butch, but then Butch takes over the singing and proves that he's the better singer.


Six shooting dates went into the making of this film, from September 19 to 24, 1938. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
June 3 - Jack White wrote the original synopsis for this short during the period before Spanky rejoined the series. It was originally baseball-themed and titled "Three Strikes And You're Out." In this version, Alfalfa is heartbroken and confides in his mother. His father is also in the story and sitting at the breakfast table. A handsome boy, identified as 'Romeo,' has moved into the neighborhood and stolen Darla away from Alfalfa. The gang shows up at Alfalfa's house and asks him why he missed out on baseball practice. Alfalfa is their pitcher and they're due to play the Gas House Gang. Alfalfa marches over to Darla's house with the gang following him, and he attempts to win her over with some crooning. He's interrupted, though, with some much better crooning from Romeo. Alfalfa is so hurt by this that he decides not to pitch in the big game. Romeo, who becomes Waldo at this point in the synopsis, volunteers to pitch in his place. Porky is the manager of the gang's team. Alfalfa watches the game through a knothole in the fence. The gang is behind 5 to 1 in the last half of the eighth inning when a ram comes along and bucks Alfalfa over the fence. To Porky, it's as though Alfalfa has fallen from heaven. Alfalfa returns to the team and pitches three strikeouts, which is enough to win over Darla.
August 10 - A version entitled "Football Romeo" was completed. By this time, Spanky was a member of the troupe again, so he's part of the story, as are Butch, Woim, Gary, and 'Phooey.' The opening scenes include a portion that was later put into "Bubbling Troubles" (no. 188), with the alphabet soup, the twins, and Alfalfa's father giving him something to 'pep him up.' Also included is the scene in which Alfalfa's poetry is interrupted by the parrot. The song used in this version is "Alone." The rest of the story is essentially the way it is in the finished film, with Alfalfa becoming a hermit and the same basic events happening in the game.
August 11 - A new treatment was completed of the previous day's script. McGowan and Law were credited, with reference given to "Three Strikes, You're Out" by White.
August 19 - A new treatment was completed on this date, again by McGowan and Law, and again referencing "Three Strikes, You're Out" by White. The crooning scene was still intact at this point.
August 31 - A new "Football Romeo" script was started on this date, credited to White, McGowan and Law. Alfalfa's father is not part of this version. Gary Jasgur is referred to as 'Gary,' while Leonard Landy is referred to as 'Leonard.' At this point, there was only one announcer for the game.
September 1 - There were changes made to the previous day's script on this date.
September 16 - A "Football Romeo" script of this date gives credit to the same three writers. The crooning scene was deleted by this time. Leonard Landy was still referred to as 'Leonard.' There was also a dialogue continuity from this date which was basically the same as the finished film.
September 17 - Changes were made to the Sep. 16th script on this date. There was also a separate sheet of paper containing the announcer's dialogue, which was written by Sam Baerwitz on this date. This is where Leonard is given the name 'Phooey.'
September 19 - Changes were made to the Sep. 16th script on this date.

On September 25th, the Harrisburg Sunday Courier (PA) reported the following: "The entire Our Gang cast arrived on the set of 'Listen, Darling' at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at noon, announcing they had come to attend the birthday party for Scotty Beckett, a former fellow Gangster, who is appearing with Freddie Bartholomew and Judy Garland. Director Edwin L. Marin referred the matter to Scotty's mother. 'But,' protested Mrs. Beckett, 'Scotty's birthday isn't until October 4.' Alfalfa and Porky Lee muttered something about a mistake. Scotty whispered something to his mother and Mrs. Beckett was 'stuck' for ice cream and cake for the mob anyway. Now, she's wondering if there wasn't collusion somewhere in the incident."

On November 18th, The Macon Telegraph (GA) reported the following: "Five-year-old Porky Lee won the domino championship of Our Gang when he beat three-year-old Leonard Landy in a hectic 12 minute struggle, between scenes of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Football Romeo."

The gang's team is called Our Gang, while their opponents are called Butchs Assassins.

Alfalfa hides out at the Hermits Cave behind Schultz's DeLuxe Market.

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)
Daniel Fleischman (for pointing out my omission of the parrot from the animals list)
Debby Mendelsohn (for verifying the spelling of Gary Jasgur's last name)
bigshotjones (for researching Gary Jasgur and getting discussion started on this matter)

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