Joy Scouts

film no. 181

technical details:

Production 2630. The script is numbered B972.

Release no. C-940.

Filmed April 17 to 21, 1939.

Copyrighted June 24, 1939, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP9098. Renewed June 24, 1966, with registration no. R388397. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2034.

Released June 24, 1939. It was the 181st film in the series to be released.

Cutting continuity submitted August 16, 1939.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 24 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Joy Scouts".'

the crew:

Produced by Jack Chertok for M-G-M
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Directed by Edward Cahn
This credit appears in the film.
Photographed by Ray June, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Roy Brickner
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
Certificate no. 5308.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa" aka "Alfie"
Featured role. He doesn't have much luck cooking food for the gang.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He sets up the tent and then tries to cook the fish.
Eugene "Porky" Lee
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He and Buckwheat try to fish, but mostly get junk.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He accompanies Porky throughout the film.
Leonard Landy as "Leonard"
Supporting role. He gathers wood and then eats a popcorn-laced flapjack.
Mickey Gubitosi
Supporting role. He helps Spanky set up the tent. This was his first appearance in the series.
other kids
Extras. The remaining kids in the film are all members of The Clark Gable-sponsored Los Angeles Boy Scout Troop No. 59, according to Maltin & Bann. There appear to be somewhere between 25 and 30 of them.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Bit parts. The only other animals in the film are the crow that Alfalfa mistakes for a mockingbird, and the dead fish the kids cook.

the adults:

Forbes Murray as the scoutmaster
Small part. The kids call him "General." He tells the boys that they're too young for the scouts, and then helps them out at the end of the film.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) The man in the painting that Porky and Buckwheat fish out of the water.
(2.) Two men and four women milling about in the background during the boy scout scenes.

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.
"Listen To The Mockingbird" by Septimus Winner
Winner published this song in April 1855 under the pseudonym Alice Hawthorne. This is sung by Alfalfa as he cooks the flapjacks, and is later hummed by him.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."


Five shooting dates went into making this film, from April 17 to 21, 1939. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
Mar. 28 - A McGowan & Law script entitled "Joy Scouts" derives from this date. The story opens in a classroom as the kids are being addressed by a native American named "Chief Horse's Tail," who promotes outdoor living. The teacher's name is "Miss Pettingill," and Muggsy is also in attendance. Spanky suggests to Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Porky, that they go camping. Alfalfa suggests taking along Leonard and Slapsie. Most of the rest of this story remained unchanged prior to filming, except that Spanky also fishes, a muskrat eats the fish, and there's a note to the teacher at the end having to do with poison ivy.
Mar. 29 - Changes were made to the camping sequence on this date. Spanky gets Slapsie (Gary Jasgur) to help set up the tent.
Mar. 31 - More changes were made to the camping sequence on this date.
Apr. 11 - A McGowan & Law script derives from this date, and was okayed by Jack Chertok. Everything seems to be the way it is in the film, except that Slapsie is still present. There was also a dialogue continuity deriving from this date, which gave a synopsis of the action.
Apr. 12 - More changes were made to the script on this date.
Aug. 16 - The cutting continuity was submitted on this date, and describes all of the shots present in the finished film. However, instead of mentioning Mickey Gubitosi, it still credits "Slapsie" in that role. It seems apparent that Robert Blake's (Mickey's) recollection of his entrance into the series was accurate. The way he describes it, there was a kid who was unable to say his lines and Mickey piped up that he could handle them. The Slapsie character does indeed have the same dialogue later spoken by Mickey in the film, and Gary Jasgur was about as inexperienced with dialogue as it gets. It's possible that Mickey briefly inherited the Slapsie nickname for this one film, or at least that would explain its use in the continuity months later.

When the boys get under their umbrella to get out of the rainstorm, a geyser shoots the umbrella, with the boys hanging on, into the air. In 1984, Spanky recalled: "They hauled us maybe 10 or 15 feet up above the ground, and Buckwheat panicked. He scratched everybody pretty good before they finally got us back down."

The troop is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the film.

The gang camps at Geyser Springs Campground, which includes Mammoth Geyser.

Reference is made to Greenpoint, which is 6 miles from where the gang meets back up with the scouts.

The Kenosha News of July 31, 1939, carried this tidbit: "Porky Lee and Spanky McFarland, members of Our Gang, were fishing in a lake nearby M-G-M's 'Father and Sons' company location in Culver City yesterday (the 30th) when Porky began to yell. He had a bite and it was pulling him into the water. Spanky dragged him to safety and then landed the fish, which was a two-and-a-half-foot carp." It seems likely that this incident happened during the making of "Joy Scouts," not only because Porky fishes in this film, but because he was no longer in the series at the time of this article. "Father And Sons" was the working title for "Dad For A Day," which had just finished shooting earlier in July.

See page 235 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits.

© Robert Demoss.

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