Auto Antics

film no. 183

technical details:

Production 2632. The script is numbered B974.

Release no. C-942.

Filmed May 15 to 19, 1939.

Released July 22, 1939. It was the 183rd film in the series to be released, and the last of the 1938/39 season.

Copyrighted July 26, 1939, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP9094. Renewed July 26, 1966, with registration no. R390155. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2034.

Cutting continuity submitted August 28, 1939.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 5 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Auto Antics".'

the crew:

Produced by Jack Chertok for M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated.
Directed by Edward Cahn
This credit appears in the film.
Photographed by Harold Marzorati, 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. 5294.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Featured role. He and Spanky must win the race to save Whiskers.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He's basically in every scene with Alfalfa.
Tommy Bond as "Butch"
Featured role. He and Woim try to win the race by dishonest means.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She hangs out with the mayor during the race and clues him in on the Whiskers dilemma.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Supporting role. He shares a car with Buckwheat and ends up rolling down the hill in a trash can. This was his final appearance in the series.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He accompanies Porky throughout the film.
Sidney Kibrick as "Woim"
Supporting role. He accompanies Butch throughout the film. Consistently referred to in the scripts and the continuity as "The Woim."
Leonard Landy
Supporting role. He and Mickey inadvertently end up in the race, and basically get in everybody's way.
Mickey Gubitosi
Supporting role. He accompanies Leonard throughout the film.
Joe Levine
Small part. He's in the first car that goes off the road.
boy 171c
Small part. He's the boy honking his horn.
other kids
Small parts and extras. There are eight additional boys in the race, and at least four kids in the crowd.

the animals:

dog 179 as "Whiskers"
Supporting role. He gets taken to the pound, and the gang must win the prize to save him.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Extras. There are at least two more dogs in the dogcatcher's wagon.

the adults:

Major James H. McNamara as the mayor
Supporting role. He races to the pound with the kids and pays for the dog license.
Joe Whitehead as the dogcatcher
Supporting role. He reluctantly takes Whiskers away from the kids.
Baldwin Cooke as "Luke"
Bit part. He starts the race.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) "Flanagan," the mayor's chauffeur.
(2.) Four more officials on the platform with the mayor.
(3.) At least one cop. There's one next to the platform, who may or may not be the motorcycle cop seen later.
(4.) Perhaps thirty spectators standing in front of the platform. The crowd standing to watch the race includes at least fifteen adults, all of whom may be from the group of thirty.
(5.) Two pedestrians in town as the gang arrives at the pound.

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."

unused music
"Happy Days Are Here Again" by Milton Ager
Published in 1929 with music by Ager and lyrics by Jack Yellen. Both Benny Meroff & His Orchestra and Ben Selvin & His Orchestra had number one hits with this song in 1930. The March 31st script describes this song being played at the beginning of the race. It never made it into the finished film.


Five shooting dates went into the making of this film, from May 15 to 19, 1939. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
Sep. 7, 1938 - A brief treatment by McGowan & Law entitled "Soap Box Derby Story" derives from this date. The dog's name is "Jiggs," with the name even being spoken in the dialogue by Spanky. Leonard and Gary are both featured strongly and referred to by their actual names. They end up winning the race. The last line of dialogue is Leonard saying "phooey!"
Oct. 1 and 7, 1938 - A script derives from these two dates. The town is called Petersville at this point. It should be noted that the name Greenpoint originated in "Duel Personalities" (no. 178), which was produced in January of 1939. "Jiggs" is revealed to be a Great Dane in this version. The race is held at Peter's Peak Hill. Gary and Leonard win. Had the dialogue remained intact until the finished film, Gary would have been addressed as "Slapsie" in this short.
Mar. 31, 1939 - A Law & McGowan script from this date was okayed by Jack Chertok. By this time, the town is called Greenpoint, the dog is still named "Jiggs," the race is still held at Peter's Peak Hill, and Leonard and Slapsie again win the race. "Happy Days Are Here Again" is played at the beginning of the race. Also from this date is a dialogue continuity entitled "Soap Box Derby."
June 4, 1939 - A "Soap Box Derby" script was belatedly approved on this date.
Aug. 28, 1939 - The cutting continuity was submitted on this date. Unlike the continuity for "Joy Scouts" (no. 181), this one refers to Mickey Gubitosi's character as "Mickey" and not "Slapsie."

The town is named Greenpoint in this film.

The kids race down Peak Hill.

Spanky and Alfalfa's car is called the Mystery Rocket.

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:
Steven R. Wright (for identifying Joe Levine)
Eric Feick (for information about "Our Gang's Favorite - Alfalfa")

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