The Big Premiere

film no. 189

technical details:

Production 2669.

Release no. C-135.

Filmed December 11 to 14, 1939.

Released March 9, 1940. It was the 188th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted March 13, 1940, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP9537. Renewed March 13, 1967, with registration no. R406394. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2035.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "The Big Premiere".'

the crew:

Produced by Jack Chertok and Richard Goldstone 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 Photograph: Paul Vogel, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Adrienne Fazan
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.
Art Director: Elmer Sheeley
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's pretty much part of the ensemble until the gang's film is shown. Then he plays "Robin Hood" and sings a song.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He's the leader of the gang and announces at their premiere. Then he plays "Robinsond Cruso" in their film.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Featured role. She plays "Cinderella" in the gang's movie.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Featured role. He plays "Friday" in the gang's movie, but Alfalfa does his voice, since Buckwheat is stuck outside with his feet in the cement.
Mickey Gubitosi as "Mickey"
Featured role. He plays the bad guy in the gang's film, and accompanies Alfalfa on guitar.
Darwood Kaye as "Waldo"
Supporting role. He takes the gang's picture at the adult premiere, and then is the cameraman and projectionist for their film.
Shirley "Muggsy" Coates
Supporting role. She plays both "Sleepy Beauty" and Cinderella's cruel stepsister in the gang's film. This was her final appearance in the series.
Arthur Mackey
Small part. He's one of the two boys (the one on the left) that need to get home by 8 o'clock.
Larry Harris
Small part. He's one of the two boys (the one on the right) that need to get home by 8 o'clock.
Clyde Willson
Extra. In the first shot showing only the extras at the gang's premiere, he's standing at the far left. Maltin & Bann list him as Clyde Wilson.
James Gubitosi
Extra. I'm pretty sure he's the kid to the left of the two boys that have to be home by 8 o'clock.
Harold Switzer
Extra. He can be seen standing in the back during the gang's premiere.
Tommy McFarland
Extra. It looks like he might be on the right side of the room.
Giovanna Gubitosi
Extra. Later known as Joan Blake. She's a few kids to the left of Clyde Willson.
Paul Hilton
Extra. He's one of the kids on the left side during the premiere.
other kids
Small parts and extras.
(1.) The three harmonica players at the gang's premiere.
(2.) The security guard.
(3.) Probably at least forty additional onlookers at the kiddie premiere.
(4.) At least three more kids at the adult premiere.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Small parts and extras.
(1.) "Violet" the goat.
(2.) At least four chickens, most notably the one that lays the egg into Alfalfa's mouth.

the adults:

Eddie Gribbon as the cop
Small part. He has his hands full with the gang standing next to him, and then falls into the wet cement, which splatters on the actress. Maltin's earlier The Great Movie Shorts lists Charles Evans, possibly in place of Gribbon.
Ethelreda Leopold as "Imra Acacia"
Small part. She puts her feet into cement and then has her dress ruined.
John Dilson
Small part. Maltin & Bann credit him with playing the 'doorman,' but it looks more like he's the owner of the theater, greeting people at the door and assisting Miss Acacia with her footprints.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The radio announcer.
(2.) The usher who wipes the cement off the actress's shoes.
(3.) "Buck Bronco" and his date.
(4.) "Percival Wilburton."
(5.) The cement worker.
(6.) Various others at the adult premiere, including the two stars that walk in ahead of the cowboy star, at least two cops, at least two photographers, and numerous onlookers.

the music:

"Our Gang" by David Snell
This is played over the opening titles. A new recording was used for this film. 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.
"Making Movies" by David Snell
This is played as the stars first arrive at the premiere.
"The Most Beautiful Girl" by David Snell
This is played as Imra Acacia arrives.
"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. This is the first song played by the harmonica players at the gang's premiere, and also opens their film.
"Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" by Harold Arlen
Music by Arlen with lyrics by Edgar Yipsel "Yip" Harburg. Written for "The Wizard Of Oz." Glenn Miller & His Orchestra had a number seventeen hit with this song in 1939. An instrumental version is played by the harmonica players during the gang's premiere.
"She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain"
Originally a negro spiritual entitled "When The Chariot Comes." The retitled version was a popular Appalachian song in the 19th century, and also sung by railroad workers in the latter part of that century. In this film, it's played by the harmonica players as Alfalfa arrives at the premiere.
"Horn Call"
The cutting continuity includes this uncopyrighted title. This is the tone produced by Alfalfa's horn.
"Lorena" by Rev. H. D. L. Webster and J. P. Webster
Lyrics by H. D. L. and music by J. P. In this film, Alfalfa sings this song, but changes the lyrics so that the girl's name is Cinderella.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."

the locations:

Fox Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles
This is shown in the opening scene.


Four shooting dates went into the making of this film, from December 11 to 14, 1939.

The gang's film-within-a-film is called "The Mysteeryus Mistry."

The adult premiere is for a film called "Gunboats."

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:
bigshotjones (for identifying Giovanna Gubitosi)

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