Big Ears

film no. 108

technical details:

Production G-1.

Release no. C-431.

Filmed May 25 to June 5, 1931. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared by Richard Currier on June 29, 1931.

Cutting continuity dated July 7, 1931.

Copyrighted August 17, 1931, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP2403. Renewed December 2, 1958, with registration no. R225698. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2026.

Released August 29, 1931. It was the 108th film in the series to be released, and the first during the 1931/32 season.

All-talking two-reeler.

Also released with Spanish subtitles as "Orejas de burro." This version was 1,923 ft.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "Big Ears".' Maltin & Bann state that 'His Rascals' was replaced with 'The Little Pirates' in this film, but the original title, as seen on the Cabin Fever release, contradicts this.

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.
Written by Robert F. McGowan
This credit derives from the press release for this film.
Dialogue by H. M. Walker
This credit appears in the film.
Recording Engineer: Elmer Raguse
This credit appears 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.
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
assistant direction - Possibly Don Sandstrom.
writing - Robert F. McGowan probably headed story development, while Robert A. McGowan, Carl Harbaugh, Billy Gilbert, 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.
titles - Louis McManus probably designed the main titles.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.

the kids:

Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins as "Wheezer"
Lead role. His parents are ready to divorce, so he decides to make himself sick to keep them together.
Matthew "Stymie" Beard as "Stymie"
Featured role. Aside from tossing off several wisecracks, he assists Wheezer in getting sick.
Dorothy "Echo" DeBorba as "Dorothy"
Supporting role. She brings some puppies with her, and later helps to empty the medicine cabinet.
Donald Haines
Small part. He gives Wheezer some misinformation about divorce.
Sherwood Bailey
Small part. He plays straight man to Stymie during his brief scene. This was his first appearance in the series.
other kids
A promotional photo reveals that additional footage was shot during the hospital portion of the film. Not only did Stymie, Dorothy, and Sherwood accompany Wheezer to the hospital, but six more kids did as well, including Dickie Jackson. One of these kids also appeared during the scene with the puppies, but didn't make it into the finished film.

the animals:

Pete the Pup III as "Petey"
Featured role. He accompanies Wheezer throughout the film, and plays with him quite a lot.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film (but was cut from the Cabin Fever print).
other animals
Small parts. The only additional animals in this film are the three puppies belonging to Dorothy. According to the press release for this film, the puppies actually belonged to Dorothy in real life. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

the adults:

Creighton Hale as Wheezer's dad
Featured role. He's the father with a short fuse.
Ann Christy as Wheezer's mom
Featured role. She's not much better than her husband at holding her temper.
Wilfred Lucas as the doctor
Bit part. He examines Wheezer.
Johnnie Mae Beard as Stymie's mother
Small part. She's Stymie's real-life mother, and orders him to take the laundry to Dickie's house.
Gordon Douglas as the orderly
Bit part. According to Maltin & Bann. I find it difficult to be sure.
other adults
Bit parts. The only remaining adults in the film are the two nurses at the hospital.

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A1.) This is played over the opening titles and as we're introduced to Wheezer and his father. It's repeated as Pete plays keep-away with Wheezer's beanie, and as the parents agree to quit quarreling. It's played again during the hospital scene.
"Prelude" by Leroy Shield
This is played during the breakfast sequence and the door slamming that follows. The end is repeated as Stymie's mother arrives.
"Wishing" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. The second half of this is played as Wheezer talks to Pete about his parents. It's repeated partially as Wheezer's parents make up and kiss. The second half is repeated as Stymie talks about putting a hole in the sidewalk.
"The One I Love Best" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Also known as "All The World (To Me)." The opening verse to this piece is played twice while Wheezer talks separately to each parent. The same portion is played twice again as Wheezer and Stymie talk about eating lard. An alternate version is played in its entirety as the kids empty the medicine cabinet.
"Hide And Go Seek" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Dec. 23, 1930. The very beginning of this piece is played as the parents act lovey-dovey with each other. It continues partially as Wheezer overhears his parents talking about divorce. This is the version heard in "Pups Is Pups" (no. 100).
"Go Get Him" by Leroy Shield
This is played partially as the parents fight over the sock. The end of the piece is played as Stymie's mother calls the doctor. The original issue of the Beau Hunks "On To The Show!" CD identified this piece as "Instrumental (Hurry)." The recent reissue revises this.
"Candy Candy" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Dec. 23, 1930. This is played as Wheezer and Stymie talk about 'diworce' and Dorothy arrives with three puppies.
"Intermezzo" by Leroy Shield
This is played as Donald tells Wheezer what a divorce is.
"Bride's Song" by Leroy Shield
A small bit of this is played as Dorothy laments over Wheezer's situation. A slower version is played in full as Wheezer eats the lard and the soap.
"In My Canoe" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. The ending part of the slow version, reproduced on the first Beau Hunks CD, is played as Wheezer finishes eating and gets sick.
piece 108
This is the very short bit played over the end title. Both "Prelude" and "Yearning" have endings that sound like this, but in different keys.

the locations:

Hal E. Roach Studios
The back porch where Stymie's mother enters the house was actually the back of the administration building, right next to the entrance gate.


10 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Ten weeks had passed since shooting finished for "Fly My Kite" (no. 107). The studio was closed for six of those weeks. The 'start' date for "Big Ears" arrived on May 24th, and shooting continued until the 'finish' date of June 5th. No shooting took place on May 24th or 31st, which were both Sundays, nor on May 30th, which was Memorial Day. After this, three weeks passed before the Our Gang unit began to film "Shiver My Timbers" (no. 109). The studio was closed for one of those weeks.

On June 6th, the day after shooting finished for this film, the Our Gang kids posed for photos with some visitors to the studio. One of these visitors was the grandmother of Keen Delage, who posted a photo and her grandmother's diary entry from this date to flickr. Not surprisingly, Wheezer, Stymie and Dorothy are all present, and are all wearing their clothes from "Big Ears." Also present is Chubby, whose contract hadn't expired yet. Dickie Jackson is also in the photo, which isn't surprising, since he was working on a non-Our Gang film that day. More notably, Mary Ann Jackson is also in the photo, about two and a half months after leaving the series, but she may have simply accompanied her mother and brother to the studio that day. Most surprising of all, though, is the presence of Farina Hoskins, complete with costume and hair ribbons, also two and a half months after retiring from the series. Presumably, the studio rang him up to offer him a bit of extra money to pose with the visitors. Not present in the photo is Sherwood Bailey, who was still a day player and didn't work that day.

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

In the category of unseen characters, Wheezer and Stymie mention a kid named "Scotty Smith."

According to the press release for this film, Pete the Pup had sired a litter of puppies a year and a half earlier. Perhaps these were the puppies seen in "Pups Is Pups" (no. 100). One of these puppies was given to Dorothy DeBorba, and just prior to the filming of "Big Ears," Dorothy's family found themselves with a new litter of puppies - the grandchildren of Pete. It's these puppies that we see in this film.

The title for this film was inspired by the old adage 'little children have big ears when things are said they shouldn't hear.'

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B345.

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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)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Matthew Lydick (for pointing out the significance of the June 6th photo)
Piet Schreuders (for identifying "Go Get Him")
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)

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