A Tough Winter

film no. 99

technical details:

Production G-33.

Release no. 258.

Dialogue sheet submitted by H. M. Walker on January 24, 1930.

Filmed January 27 to February 15, 1930. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Also filmed in French as "Temps d'Hiver," and in German as "Winter Wetter," both with the same production number. The French version was 1,824 ft, while the German version was 1,859 ft. In the German dialogue sheet, the title is spelled "Winterwetter."

Title sheet prepared by H. M. Walker on February 26, 1930.

Cutting continuity submitted March 29, 1930.

Copyrighted April 14, 1930, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP1219. Renewed June 24, 1957, with registration no. R194354. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2025.

Released June 21, 1930. It was the 99th film in the series to be released, and the last of the 1929/30 season.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "A Tough Winter".'

Opening title in French version: '"Notre Clique" Comedies - Hal Roach presente Ses polissons Dans "Temps d'Hiver".'

Opening title in German version: '"Unsere Rangen" - Lustspiele - Hal Roach bringt Seine Schelme in "Winter Wetter".'

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." This credit also appears in the foreign versions.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit appears in the film, but without his middle initial. He's also credited in the foreign versions.
Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the foreign versions.
Edited by Richard Currier
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the foreign versions.
Dialogue by H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film. Walker receives credit as story editor in studio documentation. He's also credited in the foreign versions.
Recording engineered by Elmer Raguse
This credit appears in the film. He's also credited in the foreign versions.
German language coach: Mrs. Helena Baden and Juline Knowlton
Baden is revealed in a press photograph, as well as the payroll ledger, which also lists somebody whose last name was Knowlton. This name appears four times, and each time I wrote down a different first name, due to the illegibility of the handwriting. Juline is the only common name I could find that comes close.
French language coach: Jean De Briac
This is revealed by the payroll ledger. There was also a French stenographer on the payroll named Mary E. Lewis.
Story by Robert F. McGowan
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Animal Trainer: Harry Lucenay
He was Pete's owner and trainer.
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
school teacher - Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
direction - The foreign-language versions were probably directed by James W. Horne.
assistant direction - Possibly Charles Oelze.
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 French and German title cards.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.
French language coach - The payroll summaries list both Jean de Briac and Mildred Mc Arthur as French instructors during the period in which the previous film, "Bear Shooters" (no. 98), was shot.

the kids:

Allen "Farina" Hoskins as "Farina"
Featured role. He has most of the interaction with Fetchit and is involved in a number of the taffy gags.
Mary Ann Jackson as "Mary"
Featured role. She makes the taffy and then recruits Fetchit to help clean up. It appears that her character name in the German version was "Marie," since this is penciled into the cutting continuity a few times.
Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins as "Wheezer"
Featured role. He's Mary Ann's brother, and gives her the taffy instructions from a radio program.
Jackie Cooper
Supporting role. He's also Mary Ann's brother and is essentially the leader of the gang of boys throwing snowballs.
Norman "Chubby" Chaney
Supporting role. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He has a virtually silent role, and has occasional gags, apparently vomiting at one point, and being puzzled by the rewired gadgets at the end.
Margot Rouseyrol and Lorraine Sholtz
Small parts. These are the two girls helping Mary in the kitchen. Photos of Rouseyrol as a teenager verify that she's the brunette girl. She has quite a bit of dialogue in the French version of the film. By process of elimination, therefore, we can surmise that the little blonde girl is Sholtz, who probably has the same dialogue in the German version (which is not available for viewing). Maltin & Bann identify the brunette as Beverly Parrish, but this is incorrect.
Jerry Bensmiller
Small part. He's the toddler that's given a few closeups here and there. Maltin & Bann list him as Tommy Atkins, but the payroll ledger says otherwise.
George and Willie Savidan
Small part. One of these is the boy in shorts and knee socks that gets stuck to the floor. This same boy gets a bit of dialogue in the French version. The other is shown throwing snowballs and joining in on the taffy pull.
Werther and Wolfgang Weidler
Small parts. These two are also present during the taffy pull. Wolfgang, the younger of the two, is seen pulling taffy off of the floor lamp. He was later known as Walt Weidler. His older brother Werther later went by the name Warner Weidler.

the animals:

Pete the Pup (no. 1) as "Petie"
Supporting role. He accompanies Wheezer through most of the film, and barks at the rewired gadgets. This was the original Pete's final appearance in the series. The spelling of his nickname derives from the cutting continuity. He's identified as "Pete, le cabot" in the French continuity.
Dinah the Mule
Small part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She pulls Stepin's wagon.
cat 080
Bit part. This is the tabby that's cornered by the taffy.
cat 060
Bit part. This is one of Stepin's two cats.
dog 087b
Bit part. This is Stepin's dog, and is seen following the wagon, and later in Stepin's house.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) Stepin's black cat.
(2.) Stepin's two chickens.
(3.) Stepin's two goats.
(4.) Stepin's goose.
(5.) The fake mouse.

the adults:

Stepin Fetchit as "Stepin" aka "Step"
Lead role. He receives on-screen credit on a separate title card. He's featured very strongly through most of the film, mostly getting others to do his work for him.
other adults
Bit parts. The payroll ledger states that $15 was spent on day workers on February 26th, but it's virtually impossible to determine which of the names listed belong with this production, as several other productions were going on that day. Presumably, the mailman and/or the two voiceovers derive from this date.
(1.) "Miss Radio," the radio announcer. According to Maltin & Bann, this was Lyle Tayo. It sounds like her, but she's not listed in the ledger. Studio documentation states that the kids are listening to "Aunt Polly" over Station ZZZ, and that Wheezer calls her "Mrs. Radio."
(2.) The telephone operator.
(3.) The mailman.
in still images
Abraham Lincoln is shown in a portrait on the wall of Fetchit's home. There's also a man in a newspaper photograph next to Farina's head as he reads the letter.

the music:

piece 099a
This is played during the opening scenes and continues until the letter arrives.
piece 099b
This is the song that Stepin sings and hums as he undresses. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.
piece 099c
This is the piece that begins as Stepin starts dancing and continues at least until the end of the scene.
piece 099d
This is the impromptu tune that Stepin sings as he dances. The lyrics consist of 'oh no it ain't oh yes it is.'
"Smile When The Raindrops Fall" by Alice Keating Howlett
Copyrighted Mar. 21, 1930. Written with lyrics by Will Livernash. An instrumental version is played during the first part of the cooking scene. It's partially repeated when Chubby answers the phone.
"Jack In The Box" by Zez Confrey
Copyrighted 1927. This is played from about the halfway point in the cooking scene until the taffy pull is finished.
piece 099f
This is what Stepin sings as he arrives at the house. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.
"For No Reason At All" by Hal E. Rice
This is played from the time Stepin arrives for the cleanup until Chubby gets sprinkled by the fireplace log.
"That Old Gang Of Mine" by Ray Henderson
Written in 1923 with lyrics by Billy Rose and Mort Dixon. An instrumental version is played over the refrigerator-turned-radio, and gets louder as the door is opened, and continues through the end title. According to the Victor files, this recording was actually dubbed from the reel one sound disc of "Wiggle Your Ears" (no. 84). The Blackhawk print also plays this piece over the opening titles.


18 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Presumably, most of January was committed to formulating the scenario for this film, though the Our Gang unit did deviate long enough to shoot retakes for "Bear Shooters" (no. 98) on Jan. 21st. The letter shown in the film is dated Jan. 12, 1929, which may mean that Walker wrote it himself on that date in 1930, but like most of us in January, hadn't gotten used to writing in the new year just yet. Walker's dialogue sheet for "A Tough Winter" was submitted on Jan. 24th, and the 'starting' date for shooting arrived on Jan. 27th. Shooting continued until the 'finish' date of Feb. 15th. No shooting took place on Jan. 26th, Feb. 2nd, or Feb. 9th, which were all Sundays. After this, nine weeks passed before the Our Gang unit began shooting "Pups Is Pups" (no. 100). The studio was closed for four of those weeks.

This film was basically a pilot film for an unrealized Stepin Fetchit series.

The press release for this film mentions that a previous episode had been made in Spanish which went over big, so they decided to make the next one in German and French. This supports the idea that previous episodes were NOT made in German and French and that "A Tough Winter" was not made in Spanish.

The extra kids in this film seem to have been cast with the foreign-language versions in mind. While the German version is unavailable for viewing, we do have the first half of the French version available. One of the Savidan boys gets a line in that version, while remaining mute in the English version. The brunette girl actually has several lines of dialogue in the French version, all of which are spoken by Mary Ann in the English version. It stands to reason that the German version would reveal the blonde girl as the one with these lines with the Weidler boys perhaps being given dialogue as well.

Among the products used in this film are Lux detergent and a Eureka Heating Pad.

Reel one ends as Mary Ann pores the 'taffy' into a larger pan.

In the category of unseen characters is "Miss Maybelle Cordelia Lee," the woman who sent the letter to Stepin from Memphis, Tennessee. The dialogue sheet for this film reveals that she lived at 1117 Sewanee River Road. In the original story sheet for the film, her name was "Annabelle Florabelle Maybelle Johnson," also from Memphis. In the German dialogue sheet, her name is "Mariabella Cordelia Lee."

Fetchit mumbles as he sings a song while undressing. These are the words written by Walker as found on the dialogue sheet:
Yaller gals tells me ah's sweet as honey
Ah gets gals without havin' money
Jus' like bees they buzz an' buzz
Ah got it an' tis an' was!

Here's the way it reads in the cutting continuity:
Yella' gal says Ah was sweet as honey.
Ah git gals without no money.
Jus' like bees aroun' they buzz,
'Cause Ah got 'it' an' tis an' wuz.
Ah went down to the rivah.
Ah went down to the - -

While it's apparent that Fetchit didn't follow Walker's lyrics that closely, I believe the person who prepared the continuity misheard some of them. Here's what it sounds like to me:
Yella' gals say Ah's sweet as honey
Ah git a gal without no money
Jus' like bees aroun' they buzz,
'Cause Ah got 'it' an' tis an' wuz.
Goin' down to the rivah
Goin' down to the - -

Fetchit sings some lyrics later in the film as well. This is how they look in the cutting continuity:
That gal in Alabamy - an' G'orgia an' Tennessee
but the gal in Tennessee

In this case, the accuracy is clearly way off. This is what it sounds like to me:
Not the one in Alabama, Georgia, Birmingham,
But that gal o' mine in Tennessee...

According to the press release, snow was present at the studio for two weeks.

The press release for this film states that the story takes place in Gangtown.

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B652.

This film was removed from King World's TV package in the early 70s.

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)
Zadock Jarvis (for verifying which of the two extra girls is Margot Rouseyrol, and for correcting the spelling of her last name)
Piet Schreuders (for identifying "For No Reason At All" and "Jack In The Box")
Elliot Unkefer (for identifying "Smile When The Raindrops Fall")
Steven Wright (for pointing out the soundtrack connection with "Wiggle Your Ears")
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)

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