Melodies Old And New

film no. 204

technical details:

Production 2755.

Release no. C-394.

Filmed October 29 to 31, 1941.

Copyrighted December 23, 1941, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP11376. Renewed December 23, 1968, with registration no. R451743. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2036.

Released January 24, 1942. It was the 204th film in the series to be released.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 53 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Melodies Old And New".'

the crew:

Produced by M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated. For some reason, Jack Chertok and Richard Goldstone are not credited by Maltin & Bann, but they were in charge of the short subject department during this period.
Directed by Edward Cahn
This credit appears in the film.
Director of Photography: Jackson Rose, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Leon Bourgeau
This credit appears in the film.
Dances Staged by Steven Granger and Gladys Rubens
This credit appears in the film.
Art Director: Richard Duce
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
possible uncredited involvement
screenplay - Since Hal Law and Robert A. McGowan are not given credit, perhaps this means that Sam Baerwitz handled this job.

the kids:

George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He runs the show and takes part in the singing.
Billy "Froggy" Laughlin as "Froggy"
Featured role. He asks his Uncle Walt to help out and also sings a song.
Mickey Gubitosi as "Mickey"
Featured role. He lets the kids in for free and also sings a song.
Janet Burston as "Janet"
Featured role. She's not in the initial scene, but is featured strongly during the show, both singing a song and announcing the various dances.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He's with the boys in the opening scene, and is part of the singing quartet, but isn't given a song of his own.
Dickie Humphries
Small part. He's the boy that dances the jitterbug and the boogie woogie.
Kay Tapscott
Small part. She's the girl that dances with Dickie Humphries. Her professional name was Marilyn Kay, though both names variously turn up in contemporary sources.
Patricia Wheeler
Small part. She's the girl that does the twirling during the big dance number.
Lavonne Battle
Small part. Of the two tapdancing girls that follow Wheeler, she appears to be the one on the left.
Shirley Jean Doble
Small part. Of the two tapdancing girls that follow Wheeler, she appears to be the one on the right.
boy 186a
Small part. He's fifth from the right in the line of dancing boys, and also pairs up with the heavyset boy during the modern rhythm dance.
Donna Jean Edmonsond
Small part. Listed by Maltin & Bann. She seems to be the girl midway between Wheeler and Battle.
Jerry Baker
Small part. He's to the far left during Janet's number, and to the far right during the big finale.
Eddie Ehrhardt
Bit part. He's the violinist in the orchestra.
Gene Collins
Extra. He's seen backstage in a striped shirt. He's not in the dancing scenes, but after the curtain closes, he's made to look as though he was. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Frank Lester Ward.
James Gubitosi
Extra. He appears to be sitting in the left aisle seat of the fourth row.
other kids
Small parts, bit parts and extras. Maltin & Bann list Dwayne Hickman, but I'd like to see a photo of him from this era before trying to identify him. They also list Sheila Brown, but the only kid that looks like she might be her is the girl sitting in the front row, two seats from the aisle on the right. They also list Roger Morris, but I still need to familiarize myself with him. The dancers in this film were members of the Maurice Rubins dance group.
(1.) There are seven additional boys and eight girls that accompany Janet during her song, at least many of which are in the big dance sequence.
(2.) There are seven additional boys and six additional girls during the dance sequence.
(3.) Five additional orchestra members including one named "Jimmy."
(4.) There are probably around forty-five kids in the audience.

the animals:

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

the adults:

Walter Wills as "Uncle Walt" aka "Mr. Wills"
Small part. He helps the kids to organize their show, and then buys them football uniforms.

the music:

"Our Gang" by David Snell
This is played over the opening titles. This is the earlier recording, used prior to "The Big Premiere" (no. 189). 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.
"Orchestra Tuning"
This title was given to the uncopyrighted sound of the orchestra tuning up.
"Those Were The Good Old Days" by Maurie Rubens, Jack Scholl and George Grandee
This is sung by Janet during the first act, which is called "Grandma Wore A Bustle."
"While Strolling Through The Park One Day" by Ed Haley and Robert A. Keiser
Published in 1894, and derived from the 1884 song by Haley called "The Fountain In The Park." In this film, it's the first song sung by the four boys in their "Songs Of Long Ago" act.
"Sweet Genevieve" by George Cooper and Henry Tucker
Published in 1869, with words by Cooper and music by Tucker. In this film, it's sung by Mickey.
"Come Back To Erin" by Claribel
John McCormack had a number nine hit with this traditional Irish song in 1910. In this film, it's sung by Spanky.
"Oh What A Pal Was Whoozis!" by Joe Burke and Gus Kahn
Published in 1927, with music by Burke and lyrics by Kahn. In this film, it's sung by Froggy.
"Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo'bye)" by Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman and Dan Russo
Published in 1922. This was a number one hit for Al Jolson in 1923. In this film, it's the final song sung by the quartet of boys.
"Old Folks At Home" aka "Swanee River" by Stephen Collins Foster
Published in 1851. This is played during the soft shoe dance which opens the "Dances Old And New" sequence. This version was arranged by David Snell and copyrighted as "Swanee River" on Jan. 10, 1942.
"Hey, Baby, Hey" by Cole Porter
This is the piece played as the kids dance the waltz clog.
"Buck Dance"
This is the piece played as the kids dance the buck dance. David Snell was given an arrangement credit for this, which was copyrighted on Jan. 10, 1942.
piece 204
This is the piece played as the kids dance the charleston. It's the only piece not listed on the last page of the cutting continuity.
"Jitterbug" by Lennie Hayton
This is the piece played as the kids dance the jitterbug. Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1942.
"Boogie Woogie Maisie" by Lennie Hayton
This is the piece played as the kids dance the boogie woogie.
"To The Plume House" by David Snell
This is the piece played as the kids dance the modern rhythm dance.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."


Three shooting dates went into the making of this film, from October 29 to 31, 1941. Judging by the copyright entries for the musical pieces, this film was shot under the working title "Good Old Days."

The gang's show is called "Those Good Old Days."

The uniforms are bought at the Greenpoint Sport Shop for the Our Gang Football Team. By the end of the film, they're no longer the "Bums of the Greenpoint Football League."

In the category of unseen characters, Froggy quotes his "Aunt Min."

See page 236 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits.

© Robert Demoss.

Thanks to Ray Frieders for assistance on this page.

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