Time Out For Lessons

film no. 186

technical details:

Production 2655. The script is numbered B998.

Release no. C-133.

Filmed September 25 to 28, 1939.

Released December 2, 1939. It was the 186th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted December 5, 1939, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP9588. Renewed December 5, 1966, with registration no. R399479. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2034.

Cutting continuity submitted December 16, 1939.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 49 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Time Out For Lessons".' Starting with this film, the lettering style in the opening title was changed for each film.

the crew:

Produced by Jack Chertok for M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated.
Directed by Edward Cahn and Bud Murray
Only Cahn is credited in the film.
Director of Photography: Robert Planck, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Ralph E. Goldstein
This credit appears in the film.
Screen Play by Hal Law, Robert A. McGowan and Jack White
Law and McGowan are credited in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial. White wrote the earliest versions of the script, but went uncredited.
Dances by Bud Murray
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
Certificate no. 5658.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa" aka "Alf"
Lead role. He neglects his schoolwork in favor of football, until his dad shows him his future. Muggsy calls him "Flying Phantom Alfalfa."
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky" aka "Coach Spanky"
Supporting role. He's the coach of the football team.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She's featured in the college sequence, highlighted by her big singing number.
Mickey Gubitosi as "Mickey"
Supporting role. He's with Alfalfa at the opening of the film, and is present through most of the college sequence. Darla calls him "Iron Man Mickey."
Leonard Landy as "Leonard"
Supporting role. He's present through much of the film, with a featured moment breaking the goldfish-eating record. Hugh Chapman calls him "Stonewall Leonard."
Shirley Coates as "Muggsy"
Supporting role. She's present during much of the college sequence, particularly as Alfalfa's dance partner.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He's present through most of the film, but doesn't do anything the other kids aren't also doing.
Darwood Kaye as the "Professor"
Small part. Maltin & Bann indicate that the "Waldo" moniker was used, but it doesn't show up in the dialogue. However, it's clear that he's in character as he lets Alfalfa know that he isn't going to be playing in the big game.
Jean Hemond
Small part. He's the boy who does the solo dance and shouts "Come on, you little apple!"
Paul Hilton
Small part. He's Alfalfa's roommate, and is also seen at the rally. Referred to as "Roommate" in cutting continuity.
Gloria Brown
Small part. She's Spanky's dance partner.
boy 184
Small part. He's the drummer in the band, essentially repeating his role from "Captain Spanky's Show Boat" (no. 184)
Valerie Lee
Bit part. This is Mickey's dance partner.
Dickie Humphries
Bit part. He's the boy that encourages Buckwheat as the players are walking out of the pep rally.
Hugh Chapman
Bit part. He's the boy that encourages Leonard as the players are walking out of the pep rally.
Payne Johnson
Extra. He's seen during the "Boola Boola" scene and also the goldfish scene. He's also standing nearby as Professor Waldo gives Alfalfa the bad news.
Betty Ann Muir
Extra. She's the freckle-faced girl to the right during the goldfish scene.
Rae-Nell Laskey
Extra. She appears to be standing along the left side of the ring of kids surrounding the solo tapdancing boy.
Priscilla Montgomery
Extra. She appears to be standing along the right side of the ring of kids towards the back. I think she's also the girl dancing with Joe Geil.
boy 186a
Extra. He's dancing with a girl to the left of Spanky and his partner.
Joe "Corky" Geil
Extra. He can be seen to the left in front of the stage as Darla finishes her song.
Tommy McFarland
Extra. According to Maltin & Bann. I think he might be two people behind Buckwheat as the boys are marching out of the rally.
Harold Switzer
Extra. He's two people behind Tommy McFarland.
Sidney Kibrick
Extra. He can be seen as the football players dejectedly walk out of the room, leaving Alfalfa behind. This was his final appearance in the series.
James Gubitosi
Extra. It looks like he's running along on the left side as the girls talk to the fur-coated boys.
Gerald Mackey
Extra. It appears that he's the third kid behind Harold Switzer as the players are walking out of the pep rally.
Glenn Mickens
Extra. A 1941 casting directory states that he appeared in the Our Gang series. It appears that he's the second kid Gerald Mackey as the players are walking out of the pep rally.
Janice Hood
Extra. It appears that she might be in the background of the shot showing Alfalfa and Muggsy jitterbugging.
boy 186b
Extra. He's dances to the right of Alfalfa and Muggsy.
boy 178
Extra. He's standing behind Leonard during the goldfish scene.
other kids
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) Eight additional musicians backing up Darla.
(2.) Forty to fifty additional kids at the rally, presumably including the remaining football players, which number probably about ten. Maltin & Bann list Giovanna Gubitosi (as Jovanni), Larry Kert and Jackie Horner, but I haven't spotted them yet.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the start of the film.
other animals
Bit parts.
(1.) The dog that won't let Alfalfa pet him. He looks similar to Whiskers from "Auto Antics" (no. 183), but is not the same dog.
(2.) The only other animals in this film are the five or six goldfish in the bowl as Leonard breaks the school record.

the adults:

Si Wills as "Mr. Switzer," Alfalfa's dad
Small part. He teaches Alfalfa the importance of an education.
other adults
Extras. There are literally thousands of people shown in the stands of the football stadium in the overhead shot.

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.
"Boola Boola" by Allen M. Hirsh
Written in November 1900 while Hirsh was a student at Yale University, and introduced in a game against Harvard on November 24th. It was published the following year. He adapted it from a 1898 song called "La Hoola Boola" by Bob Cole and Billy Johnson. In this film, it's sung by the boys as they walk through the campus.
"Swingin' The Jinx Away" by Cole Porter
From the 1936 feature "Born To Dance." This is sung by Darla and later the various boys of Our Gang dance to it with their dance partners.
"The Jitterbug" by Harold Arlen
Published in 1939 with lyrics by Edgar Yipsel "Yip" Harburg. This song was written for the soundtrack to "The Wizard Of Oz," but cut from the film. In "Time Out For Lessons," an instrumental version is played during the solo tapdancing routine.
"Drum Rolls"
This occurs right before Spanky speaks at the pep rally.
"Roar Leo Roar" by Robert Wright and George "Chet" Forrest
The cutting continuity lists this entry as "Roar Leo Roar - Ward - Wright and Forrest." It's fairly obvious that the songwriting team is Wright and Forrest, but the extra hyphen would suggest that Ward was involved separately from them. Perhaps he's the one who changed the lyrics. Ward is probably Edward Ward, who worked a lot with MGM over the years. This is the song being played as the team is marching out of the pep rally.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."

the locations:

Rose Bowl, Pasadena
This is what we see in the overhead shot of the football stadium.


Four shooting dates went into making this film, from September 25 to 28, 1939. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
June 15, 1938 - Two Jack White scripts derive from this date, one entitled "Untitled" and the other entitled "Alfalfa In College." The two scripts are virtually identical. This was from the period in which Spanky was absent from the gang, so he's not present in these early versions. The story starts with Alfalfa in his football uniform, being balled out by his dad because of poor grades. Just as Dad is about to tell about his days in college, the rest of the kids show up. These include Buckwheat, Porky, and Darla. Alfalfa's dad tells about his days as a college football hero, and then has them imagine their own futures in college, which is when the 'flashforward' begins. In this sequence, football hero Alfalfa is bored with schoolwork and sleeps through class. A bad report card results in his missing the big game.
June 23, 1938 - Changes were made to the script by Jack White, with the title "Our Gang Short."
June 8, 1939 - Nearly a year after the previous version, a rough treatment by McGowan & Law was completed on this date and entitled "Alfalfa In College Idea." This version is very similar to the finished film, with Spanky, Mickey, Leonard and Buckwheat comprising the rest of the gang. However, Spanky is in the opening scene with Alfalfa (rather than Mickey) and stays for the entire time Alfalfa's dad is speaking.
July 10, 1939 - A treatment by McGowan & Law entitled "Alfalfa In College Idea" derives from this date. Mickey is now in the opening scene. The kids outside call for Alfalfa, and he and Mickey look out the window and tell them about the swell play Alfalfa has just come up with. Spanky is dressed as the coach. Alfalfa's dad wants to speak with him, so Mickey goes outside. Included in the 'flashforward' sequence are Darla, Muggsy, and Buckwheat. Leonard does his goldfish eating routine. Alfalfa's bookish roommate is named "Schuyler." Alfalfa also sings a number at the rally. The professor is referred to as "Professor Darwood Kaye." The ending scene has Alfalfa talking to the kids through the open window.
July 17, 1939 - A first trial continuity by Law, McGowan & White entitled "Play And Learn" derives from this date. Alfalfa no longer speaks to the kids through the open window in the early part of the film, but he still does at the end. The dream sequence goes straight to the locker room scene. The professor is referred to as "Professor Kaye."
July 28, 1939 - Changes were made to "Play And Learn" on this date. The dream sequence goes to the campus grounds like in the film, and the boys sing "Boola Boola." Alfalfa is referred to as "Iron Man Alfalfa." Everything is very much like in the finished film, except that Alfalfa still speaks to the others through the open window at the end.
Aug. 1, 1939 - A temporary continuity by Law & McGowan entitled "Learn To Play" derives from this date. The nicknames include "Iron-Man Mickey," "Flying Phantom Alfalfa" and "Stonewall Leonard."
Aug. 2, 1939 - A script by Law & McGowan entitled "Learn To Play" derives from this date. This script was okayed by Jack Chertok. The same three nicknames appear in this version.
Aug. 3, 1939 - Changes were made to the script on this date.
Aug. 9, 1939 - More changes were made to the script on this date.
Aug. 21, 1939 - More changes were made to the script on this date. This was the version on which the synopsis from this date was based.
Aug. 22, 1939 - A document prepared by Sam Baerwitz for "Learn To Play" derives from this date. It describes details of the song and dance routine during the pep rally scene, and reads:
1. Two bar introduction and one chorus of "Swingin' The Jinx Away" (to be sung by Darla).
2. Four bar introduction, one chorus and eight bar tag "The Jitterbug" (eccentric tap dance by boy).
3. Eight bar introduction and one chorus "Swingin' The Jinx Away" for Jitterbug dance routine.
4. Two bar pickup - two chorus "Roar, Leo, Roar."
5. Drum roll and cymbal crash, three drum rolls and three crashes, each about 2 1/2 feet long.

Shooting for this film was delayed for six weeks due to Alfalfa suffering a broken wrist around the beginning of August. While vacationing near his father's farm near Paris, IL, he tried to rescue his pet goat from a kicking horse. As reported in the Oakland Post-Enquirer, "the boy star was tossed about and suddenly felt his wrist snap."

The kids go to Hayle University. Their school paper is called The Hayle Hiccup. The opposing team is Yarmouth.

See page 236 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:
Bob Satterfield (for helping to clarify Jackie Horner's actual name)

The Lucky Corner Homepage