Tiny Troubles

film no. 177

technical details:

Production 2606. The script is numbered B953.

Release no. C-936.

Filmed January 9 to 13, 1939.

Released February 18, 1939. It was the 177th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted March 1, 1939, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP8701. Renewed March 1, 1966, with registration no. R381471. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2034.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 18 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Tiny Troubles".'

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 Al Gilks, 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.
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
Certificate no. 4971.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa" aka "Alf"
Featured role. He's fed up with his crying baby brother and takes him back to the hollow tree where he was found.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Supporting role. He and Buckwheat keep witnessing the midget talking and drinking beer.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He accompanies Porky throughout the film.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Supporting role. He's essentially the leader of the gang, but takes a back seat to Alfalfa.
Darla Hood
Supporting role. She's present through most of the footage of the gang, but has very little dialogue.
Edward and Jimmy Marazoni as "Junior"
Small part. Presumably, these twins alternated in this role. The baby is seen at the beginning and the end of the film, crying the whole time.

the animals:

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

the adults:

Jerry Marenghi as "Light Fingered Lester"
Featured role. Later known as Jerry Maren. He dresses as a baby to pick pockets, and spends some time at Alfalfa's house.
Fred A. Kelsey as the police chief
Small part. Maltin & Bann indicate that he plays a judge, but this is only because the kids call him "Mr. Judge." He listens to the gang's story and scolds them at the end.
Emory Parnell as "Clancy"
Small part. He does most of the talking between the two police officers, and arrests Lester and the kids at the house.
Lee Phelps as "O'Brien"
Small part. He's the other police officer, the one who loses Lester in the park.
Sue Moore as "Myrtle" aka "Myrt"
Small part. Lester calls her "Moit." She and Lester split up when they see the cops.
Barbara Bedford as "Mrs. Switzer," Alfalfa's mom
Small part. She instructs Alfalfa to take care of the baby.
other adults
Bit parts and extras. The remaining adults consist of pedestrians walking past the front of the police station and the corner where the crooks are working. Most notable among them is the man whose watch is stolen. There are also two cops walking out of the police station.

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."


Five shooting dates went into the making of this film, from January 9 to 13, 1939. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
Nov. 19 - A McGowan & Law synopsis entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. Included is a list of the kids planned for this story, including Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, and Porky, plus three kids with question marks next to their names, Leonard, Slapsie and Darla. Of these three, only Darla ended up in the film. Slapsie was the nickname of Gary Jasgur. This initial version of the story does not incorporate any flashback sequences, but rather follows along chronologically. When the gang comes up to Alfalfa with their baseball equipment, they mention the need to beat Butch's team, but Alfalfa is too tired to play, being kept up at night by his crying baby brother. His mother comes out of the house and leaves the sleeping baby with Alfalfa. The baby was named "Junior" even at this early point. The two criminals are named "Tiny Tom" and "Myrt." Tom, of course, disguises himself as a baby, and is known as "Egbert" while doing so. His first attempt at pickpocketing is not successful. The action inside the house is similar to the finished film but not quite the same, and focuses mostly on Spanky and Alfalfa. The kids run into the cop while at the hollowed-out tree trying to get the real baby back. He then arrests Tiny Tom while the kids leave with Junior.
Nov. 21 - A McGowan & Law treatment entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. This version has all five of the kids and includes the flashback device. The names "Clancy," "O'Brien" and "Myrtle" are all included, and the midget's name is "Tiny Tom McGlook." The gang still wants to play ball, but there's no mention of Butch. The baby is still sleeping in the carriage rather than crying. The midget steals several watches and the kids try to figure out why he's ticking. All of the kids witness the midget's shenanigans, not just Porky and Buckwheat. In this version, the cop comes to the house and the matron returns the real baby to the kids.
Nov. 23 - A McGowan & Law treatment entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. There aren't any major changes in this version.
Nov. 25 - A McGowan & Law treatment entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. The midget is still known as "Tiny Tom McGlook." The baby sleeps in the carriage, but the writers provide an alternate scene in which he cries. This, of course, is what ended up in the film. Still intact was the gag where the kids wonder where the ticking is coming from. At this point, the first couple of things the midget does are witnessed only by Buckwheat and Porky.
Nov. 26 - A McGowan & Law script entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. This version is virtually the same as the previous day's. The ticking gag was still intact. Porky and Buckwheat first report that the midget talks, and then report that he's talking on the phone. After this, the older kids give him milk, a steak, and finally a beer.
Dec. 2 - A McGowan & Law script entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. Darla makes the remark about the puppy in this version. Previous versions gave this line to Spanky.
Dec. 3 - Changes to the script carry this date.
Dec. 5 - More changes derive from this date. The "Baby Blues" title is indicated as 'tentative' in this version. The midget is still known as "Tiny Tom."
Dec. 6 - A dialogue continuity entitled "Baby Blues" derives from this date. Tiny Tom and Myrt are both apprehended at the house. Otherwise, this is pretty much like the finished film.
Jan. 10 - A synopsis carries this date.

A dated publicity photo reveals that the last scene in front of the house was filmed on January 9th. Presumably, the opening scene using the same set was also filmed that day.

The Los Angeles Times of Jan. 28, 1939, reported the following: "No one needs to tell Spanky McFarland, 8, that 'the show must go on.' He finished a scene for 'Baby Blues' yesterday at Metro with a tack stuck in his hand. During the scene, which called for him to run into a kitchen and pull Darla Hood out, Spanky slipped with his left hand landing on a stray tack. He jumped up and finished the scene before letting anybody know he was in pain."

The working title of "Baby Blues" became the release title for a much later Our Gang film (no. 197).

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)

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