Radio Bugs

film no. 219

technical details:

Production 2860. The script is numbered B5001.

Release no. C-499.

Filmed September 22 to 25, 1943. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted March 19, 1944, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP235. Renewed March 19, 1971, with registration no. R502934. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2039.

Released April 1, 1944. It was the 219th film in the series to be released.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 10 minutes and 50 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Radio Bugs".'

the crew:

Produced by M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated.
Directed by Cyril Endfield
This credit appears in the film.
Director of Photography: Walter Lundin, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Leon Bourgeau
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: Paul Youngblood
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 Production Code Adminstration of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter

the kids:

Billy "Froggy" Laughlin as "Froggy"
Featured role. He gets the idea of becoming a radio comedian. He also plays "Prince Hamlet" in the gang's drama.
Bobby Blake as "Mickey"
Featured role. Or more specifically, "Spike Mickey & His One-Man Jazz Band." He plays "Marc Anthony" in the drama.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
Featured role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He's "Winchester" in the comedy act, and plays a guard in the drama.
Janet Burston as "Janet"
Featured role. She sings a song during the comedy act, and plays "Fair Ophelia, the Melancholy Dame" in the drama.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Brandon Hurst as the Shakespearean actor
Small part. He inspires the kids to give up comedy and take up drama.
Pete Sosso as "Mr. Jasper," the bookshop proprietor
Small part. He sells the books that provide the gang with their material.
Red Skelton as the voice of "Red Skelton"
Small part. Froggy calls him "Red Skeleton." He's heard doing his radio show.
Chester Clute as one of the dental patients
Small part. He's the bald man that gets a couple of closeups in the dentist's office.
Fern Emmett as one of the dental patients
Small part. She also gets a closeup. Maltin's earlier book, The Great Movie Shorts, lists Marie Blake, probably for this part.
Jack (Tiny) Lipson as one of the dental patients
Small part. He's the heavy-set man.
Joe Yule, Sr. as one of the dental patients
Small part. He's the older man with the bandage tied around the top of his head.
Tiny Hanlon as the radio host
Small part. He's seen at the end of the film.
Catherine "Cathy" Lewis as Froggy's mom
Small part. She appears at the beginning of the film.
Walter Soderling as "O. Grimble"
Small part. He's the mortician sitting in the middle.
Erville Alderson as "U. Grimble"
Small part. He's the mortician sitting to the right.
Morris Ankrum as "Pain-Killer Kilroy," Doctor of Dentistry
Small part. He throws the gang out of his office.
Charles K. French as the town banker
According to Maltin & Bann, who state that the part was cut from the final print.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The mortician on the left, named "I. Grimble." (Get it? I.O.U?).
(2.) Froggy's dad.
(3.) The mother in Red Skelton's radio program.
(4.) The receptionist at the dentist's office.
(5.) The man with the sandwich board advertising the dentist.
(6.) Various pedestrians, including several watching the on-location radio program. The host talks to a man named "Mr. Brown." Maltin & Bann list Robert (Bobby) Burns as a crowd extra, and he resembles the man to the left that turns to face the gang as they approach. Otherwise, he also resembles Froggy's dad, but in both cases, the face is not clearly seen.
(7.) Many troops in Froggy's fantasy, plus the man that hands him the bag of money.
(8.) The audience heard on Red Skelton's program.
(9.) At least two people in portraits at the bookstore and three more at the funeral home.

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.
"The Yanks Are Comin'"
This is sung by Janet with accompaniment by Mickey's one-man band. The title is according to Froggy as he announces the song, but the lyrics don't include this phrase. The cutting continuity doesn't list this particular tune.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."


Four shooting dates went into the making of this film, from September 22 to 25, 1943. Judging by some dated photos, the 22nd was spent shooting the last part of the film, as the kids sit dejected on the steps, and then talk to the radio reporter. On the 23rd, the bookstore scenes and the opening scene with Froggy's parents were shot. On the 24th, the scene in the dentist's office was shot, and on the 25th, the scene in the mortician's office was shot.

The gang calls their comedy act the "Our Gang Radio Commeedians," and their dramatic act "The Our Gang Tradegians."

The company that sponsors Froggy's show in his fantasy is The Meatless T-Bone Corp.

This film was originally titled "The Human Tragedy."

In the category of unseen characters is Buckwheat's "Uncle Big-Mouth."

The books the gang buy at the bookstore are Dentist Jokes and The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare.

At the end of the film, the gang appears on a WHN radio show called "What Do You Think Of It?" sponsored by Kant-Fall Cake Flour Co. Maltin & Bann call the show the "Kant-Fall Cake Hour."

See page 236 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits. This film suffered a loss at the box office.

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Matthew Lydick (for identifying Catherine Lewis)
Steven Wright (for the character name of I. Grimble)

The Lucky Corner Homepage