Captain Spanky's Show Boat

film no. 184

technical details:

Production 2640.

Release no. C-131.

Filmed June 19 to 23, 1939.

Copyrighted September 6, 1939, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP9156. Renewed September 7, 1966, with registration no. R392861. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2034.

Released September 9, 1939. It was the 184th film in the series to be released, and the first of the 1939/40 season.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 42 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Captain Spanky's Show Boat".'

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.
Director of Photography: Robert Pittack, 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.
Musical Score by David Snell
This credit appears in the film.
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

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Featured role. He plays "Col. Hemingway" in the melodrama, whose first name sounds like Mortimer or something similar. He finishes the show with a song.
Tommy Bond as "Butch"
Featured role. He wants to sing in the show, but ends up having to force the issue.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He runs the show and plays the bad guy in the melodrama, whose name sounds like "Squire Ferthingale" or "Farfangale" or something. He also accompanies Alfalfa on the piano. His name is misspelled "Spankey" on one of the signs.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Featured role. She does a song-and-dance act with two boys, and then plays "Millie" in the melodrama.
Shirley Coates
Supporting role. She plays the mother in the melodrama. Maltin & Bann indicate that the "Muggsy" moniker is used, but it doesn't show up in the dialogue. However, it's clear that she's playing this role.
Sidney Kibrick as "Woim"
Supporting role. He accompanies Butch through most of the film.
Mickey Gubitosi
Supporting role. He plays "Chester," Millie's childhood sweetheart, in the melodrama.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Supporting role. He and Leonard are the stagehands.
Leonard Landy
Supporting role. He accompanies Buckwheat throughout the film.
George Crosby
Small part. He's one of Darla's dance partners, specifically the one on the left.
Clyde Willson
Small part. He changes the cards introducing each act. Maltin & Bann list him as Clyde Wilson.
Buddy Bowles
Small part. I think he might be the violinist in the orchestra.
boy 184
Small part. He's the drummer in the orchestra.
Darwood Kaye
Extra. He's in a front aisle seat in the audience. Maltin & Bann indicate that the "Waldo" moniker was used, and he's clearly dressed as this character, but the name never shows up in the dialogue.
Tim Davis
Extra. It appears that he's the blonde boy sitting behind Butch and Woim.
boy 174
Extra. It looks like he's the boy playing bass in the orchestra.
boy 166
Extra. He's the blonde boy sitting in front of Butch and Woim.
other kids
Small parts and extras.
(1.) Darla's other dance partner.
(2.) The remaining musicians in the orchestra, numbering probably seven.
(3.) At least 35 kids in the audience. Spencer Quinn is credited in a casting directory with appearing in this film, presumably as an audience member, but I don't see him anywhere.

the animals:

Bit part. The only animal in this film is the MGM lion.

the adults:

There are no adults in this film.

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.
"Tuning Up"
The cutting continuity includes this uncopyrighted title among the musical pieces. This is the sound of the orchestra tuning up during rehearsals.
"Good Evening, Caroline" by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth
Published in 1908 with music by Von Tilzer and lyrics by Norworth. This was a number one hit for Frank Stanley & Elise Stevenson in 1909. In this film, Darla sings it with her two dance partners.
"Old Folks At Home" aka "Swanee River" by Stephen Collins Foster
Published in 1851. This is played as Darla and the two boys dance and exchange corny jokes. Arranged by Constantin Bakaleinikoff.
"Winter March" by Alphons Czibulka
This is played throughout the melodrama, where it is interrupted three times by "Mysterioso." Arranged by Constantin Bakaleinikoff.
This familiar villain's theme is interspersed three times with "Winter March" to accompany Spanky's dialogue as the bad guy. Arranged by Constantin Bakaleinikoff.
"Jolly Robbers" excerpt by Franz von Suppé
From the operetta "Banditenstreiche," which roughly translates to "Jolly Robbers." This was first performed on April 27, 1867. In this film, an arrangement by Constantin Bakaleinikoff is played during the horse race.
"My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night" by Stephen Collins Foster
Published in 1853. This is the finale music at the end of the play. Arranged by Constantin Bakaleinikoff.
"I Hear You Calling Me" by Harold Harford and Charles Marshall
Published in 1908, with lyrics by Harford and music by Marshall. In this film, it's sung by Alfalfa.
"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 June 19 to 23, 1939.

The show boat is actually called Capt. Spanky's Show Bote in the film.

The gang's show consists of "Darla And Her Dancin' Dandies," which is followed by the main part, "Out In The Snow You Go," and then Alfalfa's song.

The two fake horses that race are "Grey Beauty" and "Black Satan."

See page 236 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits. It was the highest grossing Metro-produced Our Gang film.

© Robert Demoss.

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