Saturday's Lesson

film no. 88

technical details:

Production G-22.

Filmed March 5 to 11, 1929. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared by H. M. Walker on March 21, 1929.

Cutting continuity submitted April 18, 1929.

Music and sound effects recorded August 6, 1929.

Copyrighted September 9, 1929, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP665. Renewed September 13, 1956, with registration no. R176917. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2024.

Released November 9, 1929. It was the 93rd film in the series to be released.

Silent two-reeler with synchronized music track and sound effects, on disc only.

Probable opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "Saturday's Lesson".'

the crew:

Produced by Robert F. McGowan for Hal Roach
This is the way Maltin & Bann put it. The film credits Roach as a presenter, with a separate credit reading "A Robert McGowan Production."
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without his middle initial.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film.
Titles by H M. Walker
This credit appears in the film.
Story by Robert F. McGowan
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Animal Trainer: Harry Lucenay
He was Pete's owner and trainer.
Music performed by Norbert Ludwig, William H. Reitz and J. Wolf
According to the Victor ledgers, as described at the DAHR website. Ludwig was the organist, while Reitz and Wolf played traps. Apparently, Wolf was at the morning session and Reitz was at the afternoon session.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Indicated in the opening title card.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
studio personnel
general manager - Warren Doane
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
optical effects supervisor - Roy Seawright
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
possible uncredited involvement
assistant direction - Possibly Charles Oelze.
cutting - Possibly Lloyd Campbell.
writing - Robert A. McGowan, Jean Yarbrough and Charlie Hall may have been among the gag writers.
property department - Charles Oelze, Don Sandstrom, Thomas Benton Roberts and Bob Saunders were probably involved in this capacity.

the kids:

Joe Cobb as "Joe" aka "Joseph"
Featured role. He energetically chops wood after the devil man tells him to get to work.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Featured role. His job is beating rugs, which end up in shreds.
Mary Ann Jackson
Supporting role. She and Jean throw out their spinach, only to eat it out of the garbage.
Jean Darling
Supporting role. She fights with Harry over the spinach, and then is with Mary for the rest of the film.
Harry Spear
Supporting role. His job is cleaning the yard. There's not a lot of specific attention given to him in this film.
Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins
Supporting role. He cleans the yard with Harry, and isn't given much of anything specific to do.

the animals:

Pete (no. 1)
Supporting role. He's with the kids through much of the film, but isn't given much to do, other than attack the devil man as the film irises out.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Jack O'Brien as The Devil
Featured role. He's dressed as the devil for advertising purposes, and puts a scare into the kids. The pressbook for this film credits George O'Brien, but publicity photos use the name Jack.
Orpha Alba as Joe's mom
Supporting role. She calls the doctor when she can't get her son to stop working.
Emma Reed as Farina's mom
Supporting role. She can't get her son to stop working, either, and gets spooked by the devil man herself.
Adele Watson as the other kids' mom
Supporting role. She has four kids and a perpetual headache.
Charley Lloyd as "Dr. A. M. Austin"
Small part. He gets a laugh out of Joe's condition. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Charley Young.
Ernest Wilson as Farina's butler
Bit part. We see him briefly during Farina's dream sequence. Listed by Maltin & Bann as William Davis.
Ham Kinsey as a pedestrian
Bit part. He accompanies Eva Downs as the two of them are the first pedestrians startled by O'Brien.
Eva Downs as a pedestrian
Bit part. She's listed in the ledger for this film, and was the mother of Our Gang kid Johnny Downs. She looks a lot like the woman accompanying Kinsey.
Chris Lynton as a pedestrian
Bit part. He's the second man accompanying a woman down the sidewalk, and seems amused by O'Brien's smoke bomb. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Allen Cavan.
other adults
Unknown roles. All but one of the remaining adults listed in the payroll ledger seem to have wound up on the cutting room floor. Either Ann Gladman or Helen Muir played the woman accompanying Lynton, with the latter seeming more plausible, since she was around 65 at the time. Also among these adults were Sammy Brooks (who clearly isn't in the available print), Robert Williams and Jimmie Mayberry.

the music:

piece 088a
This is played over the opening titles.
piece 088b
This is played as we're first introduced to Farina.
"Turkey In The Straw" by John Renfro Davis
This was originally a fiddle instrumental called "Natchez Under The Hill". It was published with lyrics in 1834 as "Old Zip Coon." This is played as the butler carves the chicken.
"Don't Wake Me Up (Let Me Dream)" by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Mabel Wayne
Published in 1925 with lyrics by Gilbert and music by Wayne. Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra had a number nine hit with this song the same year. An instrumental version is played in this film as Farina wakes up and his mother puts him to work.
piece 088d
This is played as Farina refuses to beat the carpet.
piece 088e
This is the bluesy tune played as Farina's mother warns him about the devil man. It returns as Farina shoots his mouth off about the devil man in the park.
piece 088f
This is played as Jean and Harry pass spinach to each other. It returns as the mother puts the kids to work.
"I Faw Down And Go Boom" by James Brockman and Leonard Stevens
Published in 1928. This is played as Jean and Mary throw out their spinach, and again as they walk out the door. In both instances, Harry falls down and goes boom. This was a number 15 hit for Eddie Cantor in the spring of 1929.
piece 088h
This is played as Joe is put to work by his mother and is followed by "Lazy."
"Lazy" by Irving Berlin
This is played as Joe is put to work by his mother, following "piece 088h." Al Jolson had a number four hit with this song in 1924.
piece 088i
This is an effects piece played as we're introduced to the Devil. It returns as the devil man puts his first scare into the kids in the park. It returns again as the devil appears to Jean and Mary. It returns again as the devil orders Joe to take his castor oil. It returns again as the devil orders Joe to get out of bed. It returns again as the devil orders Joe out of bed while the mother and doctor are in the room. A variation is played as the devil appears to Farina and his mother. It's played a final time as the devil gives his final warning.
piece 088j
This is played as the kids and the devil all decide to rest in the park.
"A Shady Tree" by Walter Donaldson
Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra had a number four hit with this song in 1927. This is played as the kids talk in the park.
piece 088l
This is played as the kids frantically get to their chores.
piece 088m
This is played as the devil appears to Harry, and then Farina.
piece 088n
This is played as Joe's mother tries to get him to stop and takes him inside for some castor oil.
piece 088o
This is played as Joe's mother tries to get him to bed and as the other two mothers notice their kids working. It returns as Joe chops frantically and Farina has reduced the rugs to shreds.
piece 088p
This is played as the kids' mother tries to get them to stop, and as Joe's mother calls the doctor.
piece 088q
This is played as Joe returns to chopping wood, and Farina's mother tries to get him to stop, and Joe's mother and the doctor put Joe back to bed.
piece 088r
This is played as the kids are gathered with their mothers for a final warning from the devil.
"Back In Your Own Back Yard" by Al Jolson, Billy Rose and Dave Dreyer
This is played as the kids vow to obey their mothers. Ruth Etting had a number five hit with this song in 1928.

the locations:

Media Park, Los Angeles
The park in which the kids gather looks a lot like the one in "Lazy Days" (no. 92) and "Bouncing Babies" (no. 93), which has been established as Media Park.
Joe's house
A publicity photo reveals what appear to be oil rigs near Joe's house. Perhaps these scenes were shot around the same area as "The Smile Wins" (no. 66).


6 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Only three days after shooting was finished for "Cat, Dog & Co." (no. 87), the 'start' date for "Saturday's Lesson" arrived on Mar. 5th. Shooting continued until the 'finish' date of Mar. 11th. Information was written in for Sunday, Mar. 10th, in the 1929 studio datebook, but then crossed out, which probably only indicates that the person filling in the information did so absent-mindedly. Whether or not shooting was planned, none took place on that date. Robert F. McGowan directed on each of the shooting dates. After this, two weeks passed before the Our Gang unit began shooting "Small Talk" (no. 89). In the interim, the studio was closed while sound equipment was installed.

The second reel opens with the two girls eating spinach out of the garbage.

The 16-inch disc masters containing the music and sound effects were Victor matrix MVE-55754 (for reel 1) and Victor matrix MVE-55755 (for reel 2). The takes were all recorded in Studio 1 at the Church Bldg. in Camden, NJ. The takes for reel 1 were numbered 1A, 2, and 2A, while the takes for reel 2 were numbered 1, 1A, 2, and 2A. In neither case is the master take indicated. The Victor ledgers use the word "Inaudible" to indicate that the soundtrack contains no dialogue or other closely synchronized sound. They also note the use of the "Western Electric system."

Publicity material referred to the kids as Roach's Rascals.

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B587.

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number and shooting dates)
Matt (for identifying "I Faw Down And Go Boom," "Lazy," "A Shady Tree" and "Don't Wake Me Up")
Paul Fitzpatrick (for identifying 'Back In Your Own Back Yard')
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Ed Slonina (for pointing out the DAHR website containing the sound-on-disc info)

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