The First Seven Years

film no. 96


technical details:

Production G-30.

Filmed October 28 to November 16, 1929. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Also filmed in Spanish as "Los pequeños papas" with the same production number. The picture negative for the Spanish version survives, but not the soundtrack. The Spanish version is 1,945 ft.

Title sheet prepared by H. M. Walker on November 26, 1929.

Dialogue cutting continuity submitted January 7, 1930.

Copyrighted January 20, 1930, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP1004. Renewed June 24, 1957, with registration no. R194353. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2025.

Released March 1, 1930. It was the 96th film in the series to be released.

All-talking two-reeler. (In actuality, there is a little bit of silent footage in this film.)

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "The First Seven Years".'

Opening title in Spanish version: 'Hal Roach presenta Sus Actores Chiquitos en "Los Pequeños Papas".'

King World Productions episode no. 18, available in both colorized and original black-and-white versions.


the crew:

Produced by Robert F. McGowan for Hal Roach
This is how Maltin & Bann put it. The film credits Roach as a presenter, and designates it as "A Robert McGowan Production."
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without his middle initial. He's also credited in the Spanish version.
Assistant Director: Don Sandstrom
This credit derives from studio documentation.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the Spanish version.
Film Editor: Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the Spanish version.
Story Editor: H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the Spanish version.
Recording Engineer: Elmer Raguse
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the Spanish version.
Spanish language coach: Laura Peralta
This is revealed by the photograph in Maltin & Bann's book, as well as Peralta's inclusion as a Spanish coach in the payroll ledger. Also working in the same capacity was Robert O'Connor, though it appears that Peralta was assigned the Our Gang unit, with O'Connor probably working with other units. The absence of French or German instructors in the summaries throws some doubt on the making of versions of this film in those two languages.
Animation by Roy Seawright
This credit derives from Seawright's payroll status as the studio animator during this period. This film features an animated electric shock.
Story by Robert F. McGowan
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Animal Trainer: Harry Lucenay
He was Pete's owner and trainer.
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.
A Victor Recording, Western Electric System
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
direction - The foreign-language version was probably directed by James W. Horne.
assistant direction - Possibly Charles Oelze.
editing - Louis McManus probably edited the Spanish version.
cutting - Possibly Lloyd Campbell.
writing - Robert A. McGowan, Jean Yarbrough, Charlie Hall, Harry Keaton and Carl Harbaugh 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.
titles - Louis McManus probably designed the main titles, as well as the Spanish title cards.
animation - Probably the work of Roy Seawright.

the kids:

Jackie Cooper as "Jackie" aka "Jack"
Lead role. He's in love with Mary Ann, and fights a duel over her. He's identified by his full name in the cutting continuity. He plays "Juanito" in the Spanish version. According to the press release for this film, Cooper replaced Harry Spear as the latest 'good little bad boy' of the gang.
Donald Haines as "Speck"
Featured role. He's Jackie's rival. Studio publicity for this film indicates that he was not a regular member of the troupe. He's identified in the cutting continuity as "Donny." He plays "Pecas" in the Spanish version.
Mary Ann Jackson
Supporting role. She's the girl being fought over. She's identified as "Mary Ann" in the cutting continuity, though her name doesn't show up in the dialogue. She plays "Maria" in the Spanish version.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Supporting role. The nickname isn't used in this film, but it appears in the cutting continuity. He's Speck's trainer, and is involved in many of the gags. His usual character name was used in the Spanish version.
Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins as "Wheezer"
Supporting role. His big scene is the one where he rolls down a hill in some metal piping. He plays "Chico" in the Spanish version.
Norman "Chubby" Chaney as "Chubby"
Supporting role. He's Jackie's trainer and his best friend. He plays "Gordito" in the Spanish version.
Dorothy Morrison
Small part. She plays Farina's 'wife.' Maltin lists her as Jannie Hoskins in his earlier book, The Great Movie Shorts. She's identified in the cutting continuity as 'Colored Girl.'
William Peterfield
Small part. He's the baby parented by Farina and Dorothy. His last name may have been Potorfield.
in still images
A baby is shown with a woman in a picture on the wall of Farina's house. This is clearly shown in publicity photos.

the animals:

Pete the Pup (no. 1) as "Petie"
Supporting role. He's present through most of the film, but is given only a few gags here and there. The spelling of his nickname derives from the cutting continuity. He's listed in studio publicity for this film as "Pete, the pup."
Leo
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

Special note: According to a document I looked at during a research trip to L.A. in 2008, both Laura Peralta and Elisa Hughes appeared in the Spanish version of this film. Peralta was the Spanish-language coach at the studio, and her salary was charged evenly between whichever productions were going on in any given week. She didn't, however, receive any pay specific to acting. "E. Hughes," on the other hand, worked as an actor on each of the four days that Joy Winthrop worked. Winthrop, as indicated below, played Jackie's grandmother. If Peralta acted in the film, it would have almost certainly been in the role of Jackie's mother. The woman in the English-language version looks pretty similar to Peralta, but I don't quite think it's a match. However, this means that Peralta could have easily played the role in the Spanish version. This would mean that Hughes would have played the grandmother in the Spanish version. There's just one problem, though, since the ledger doesn't provide any possible names for the woman who played the mother in the English version. One possible solution to this would be that the document I viewed in 2008 got the details wrong, and that Hughes and Winthrop played the mother and grandmother respectively in both versions and Peralta served only as a language coach.
Edgar Kennedy as "Mr. Kennedy" aka "Kennedy the Cop" aka "Officer Kennedy"
Supporting role. He advises Jackie on how acquire a wife. He's listed as "El Policia" in the Spanish continuity.
Joy Winthrop as "Granny"
Supporting role. She gives Jackie some fancy duds to wear, and later pummels Speck's dad. This character is listed as "Abuela" in the Spanish continuity, but might not have been played by Winthrop in that version.
Otto Fries as Speck's father
Small part. He holds Jackie's arms so his son can beat him up.
Emma Reed as Farina's mom
Bit part. She swallows her clothes pins when she sees what's happening to her clothes. She's identified in the cutting continuity as "Colored Mammy." She's listed as "Negrita" in the Spanish continuity.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras. Both Ham Kinsey and Charlie Hall worked in this film. One of them was probably the stunt double for Granny, while the other was probably the guy driving the car indicated below.
(1.) Jackie's mother. She's identified in the cutting continuity only as "Mother," and in the Spanish continuity as "Mama."
(2.) The stunt double for Granny.
(3.) The person driving the car as Wheezer rolls down the hill.
(4.) Somebody in the background putting up laundry as Wheezer goes into the pipe.
(5.) A pedestrian shown in the background as Jackie's face is against the fence.
in still images
A woman is shown in a picture on the wall of Farina's house. Another picture shows another woman, this one with a baby. These are both clearly shown in publicity photos.

the music:

music in alternate prints
"That Old Gang Of Mine" by Ray Henderson
Written in 1923 with lyrics by Billy Rose and Mort Dixon. This is an instrumental version that's played over the opening titles. According to the Victor files, it was actually dubbed onto this soundtrack from the reel one sound disc for "Wiggle Your Ears" (no. 84). The version in the Blackhawk print has been shortened for some reason.

the locations:

Maltin & Bann state that this was filmed in the residential backyards of Culver City, but they're not specific.
Mentone Avenue, Palms district, Los Angeles
Mary Ann lives in the house at 3415 Mentone, the number of which is revealed in publicity photos. We see Jackie picking petals from a flower right across the street (on the east side). Behind him is the Berean Chapel Foresquare Church, later featured prominently in "Little Sinner" (no. 140). This church can also be seen in the shot where Jackie is walking (holding flowers in his hand) south along the west side of Mentone towards Mary's house. There's also a shot pointing across the street, with some of the buildings on Motor Avenue visible in the background, including the plumber on the east side of the 3300 block.
Woodbine Street, Palms district, Los Angeles
Jackie first encounters Kennedy on the south side of this street at the entrance to the alley midway between Motor and Mentone Avenues.
Cheviot Vista Place, Palms district, Los Angeles
The giant metal pipe with Wheezer and Pete inside it rolls northward down this street toward National Boulevard, and rests at the northeast corner of the two streets, as shown in Chris Bungo's YouTube video.
Valparaiso Street, Palms district, Los Angeles
Jackie first rolls the metal pipe down this street away from Overland Avenue, with the farm at 3147 Overland in the background, as shown in Chris Bungo's video.
the park bench
Not the same as on the northwest corner of Motor Avenue and Woodbine Street. It advertises Midway Auto something on Sepulveda Boulevard.

miscellaneous:

18 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Two weeks after shooting finished for "Shivering Shakespeare" (no. 95), the 'start' date arrived for "The First Seven Years" on Oct. 28th. Shooting continued until the 'finish' date of Nov. 16th. No shooting took place on Oct. 27th, Nov. 3rd, or Nov. 10th, which were all Sundays. Robert F. McGowan directed on each of the shooting dates. After this, almost two weeks passed before the Our Gang unit began filming "When The Wind Blows" (no. 97).

Reel two opens with Jackie fencing with the dummy.

Studio documentation sometimes identifies this film as "The 1st Seven Years."

According to studio documentation, this film ran 20 minutes and 9 seconds. The Spanish version was 21 minutes and 6 seconds.

According to the press release for this film, Robert McGowan left for an extended vacation immediately after finishing this film. Reportedly, he hadn't had a vacation in eight years (a very unlikely claim) and was going to spend this one in Honolulu. His physician had advised that he take six months off. He was absent from the Our Gang unit for only one month, but this does explain why James Horne directed the next short.

It appears that Farina's scene with the black girl is not in the Spanish version.

Maltin & Bann seem to say that there were French and German versions made of this short. However, I think they may have been speaking more generally about the four Our Gang films that were done in foreign languages and not specifically about "The First Seven Years."

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B417.


See anything that needs changing? Contact me at BtheW@aol.com.


© Robert Demoss.


My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number and shooting dates)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Steven Wright (for pointing out the soundtrack connection to "Wiggle Your Ears")
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)


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