Practical Jokers

film no. 175

technical details:

Production 2595.

Release no. C-934.

Filmed October 24 to 27, 1938.

Released December 17, 1938. It was the 175th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted December 20, 1938, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8515. Renewed December 20, 1965, with registration no. R375343. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2033.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 8 minutes and 24 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Practical Jokers".'

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.
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 - This may have been handled by Clyde DeVinna, Jackson Rose or Al Gilks.

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Lead role. He's the latest victim of Butch's practical jokes, and ends up having to sing with a firecracker about to go off in his face.
Tommy Bond as "Butch" aka "Tommy" aka "Tommy 'Butch' Bond"
Featured role. Darla calls him "Butchy." The gang decides to play a practical joke on him with his birthday cake.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He's the brains behind the cake-tampering. The man delivering the cake mistakes him for Butch and calls him "Tommy."
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Featured role. She accompanies Alfalfa on the piano.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Supporting role. He saves Spanky from a firecracker.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. His hat is glued to his head.
Gary Jasgur
Small part. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Gary Jasgar. He has on a blindfold as we first see the party.
Leonard Landy
Small part. He's virtually an extra, except for the closeup of him with cake on his face.
Sidney Kibrick
Extra. He sits a couple of seats away from Butch at the table.
Grace Bohanon
Extra. She sits next to Butch at his party, and is seen with cake on her face at the end of the film. It may be that the inclusion of Becky Bohanon in Maltin & Bann's cast listing might have been originally meant for Grace, as I don't see Becky anywhere.
Joe Levine
Extra. He sits to the left of Sidney.
other kids
Extras. There are at least ten more kids at the party.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Small parts.
(1.) The dog that plays "Rover."
(2.) Darla's cat, named "Baby."

the adults:

Marie Blake as "Mrs. Bond," Butch's mom
Supporting role. She arranges for Alfalfa to sing to Butch at the party.
other adults
Bit part. The only remaining adult is the man that delivers the cake, whose face isn't shown.

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.
"Because It's Your Birthday Today (The Birthday Song)" by Nick and Charles Kenny
This is the song Alfalfa sings as the firecracker is ready to go off.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."


Four shooting dates went into the making of this film, from October 24 to 27, 1938.

As Tommy Bond related in his 1994 book Darn Right It's Butch: "The day the party scene was to be shot I found that my dog had been run over and died. I loved that dog. Nevertheless, I had to do a scene in which everyone is happy. The show must go on, so I managed with no visible sadness."

The box holding the cake reveals that Butch lives on Camden Street, but I can't make out the number.

See page 235 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits. This film had the largest profit of any of the 52 Metro-produced shorts, due mostly to the fact that it had both the lowest negative cost and the lowest total cost among them.

© 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)
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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