Mike Fright

film no. 130


technical details:

Production G-23.

Release no. C-21.

Filmed May 29 to June 7, 1934. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted July 25, 1934, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP4914. Renewed August 30, 1961, with registration no. R281117. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2029.

Released August 25, 1934. It was the 130th film in the series to be released.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "Mike Fright".'

King World Productions episode no. 24, available in both colorized and original black-and-white versions.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Gus Meins
This credit appears in the film.
Photography: Kenneth Peach A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Louis McManus
This credit appears in the film.
Recording Engineer: James Greene
This credit appears in the film.
Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit doesn't appear in the film.
Animal trainer: Tony Campanaro
He trained the current Pete.
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.
NRA
The National Recovery Administration emblem is shown in both the opening and end titles.
studio personnel
general manager - Henry Ginsberg
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
film editor and sound department - Elmer Raguse
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
process department - Roy Seawright
musical director - Marvin Hatley
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
school teacher - Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
assistant direction - Probably Gordon Douglas.
writing - Hal Yates, Carl Harbaugh, James Parrott, Charlie Hall, Robert McKenzie, Frank Terry, Frank Tashlin and Gordon Douglas 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.

the kids:

The International Silver String Submarine Band
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spank"
Featured role. He plays kazoo in the band, and heckles the announcer.
Scotty Beckett as "Scotty"
Featured role. He plays fife in the band, and joins Spanky with the sidelines commentary.
Matthew "Stymie" Beard as "Stymie"
Supporting role. He's the drummer in the band, and has a fair amount of dialogue.
Tommy Bond
Supporting role. He conducts the band and is essentially the leader, with a fair amount of dialogue.
Alvin Buckelew as "Alvin"
Supporting role. He plays harmonica in the band, and has a couple of lines.
Jackie Wilson as "Jackie"
Supporting role. He plays ukulele in the band, but isn't given any dialogue. I'm assuming that this is the kid in this role, since his first name matches the character name.

the other acts
Leonard Kibrick as "Leonard"
Supporting role. Or more specifically, "Little Leonard." His trumpet solo is ruined as Tommy and Alvin suck lemons.
Gloria Ann White and Leona McDowell
Small part. These are The Two Darling Sisters. Gloria White is the blonde girl and Leona McDowell is the brunette.
Billy Lee
Small part. He's the tap dancer during the hula number.
Peggy Speth, Jean Aulbach, Shirley Bloomfield, Beverly Edgecomb and Kathryn "Kay" Frye
Small parts. These are the five hula dancers, as ascertained through the payroll ledger. Identifying them individually is a bit of a challenge, but Frye is definitely the brunette girl at the far right, and Aulbach is definitely at the far left. It's almost certain, based on various bits of evidence, that, among the remaining girls, Speth is the blonde girl doing the singing, Bloomfield is next to Aulbach, and Edgecomb is next to Frye. All of these girls came from The Meglin Kiddies, which is how Maltin & Bann credit them (though in Maltin's earlier The Great Movie Shorts, they're listed as The Five Meglin Kiddies).
Joy Wurgaft
Publicity photos reveal that she was present at some point during this production, wearing a hula outfit. In fact, one of these photos was used for a lobby card for this film. Contrary to her own later publicity, she isn't the girl singing "My Little Grass Shack." However, it appears fairly obvious that she's the curly-haired blonde doing the backwards flip at the beginning of the film, as her face can be seen right after the crew credits are finished.
other kids
Extras.
(1.) The little boy in the cowboy outfit who sits in the background throughout the film.
(2.) At least one boy and one girl seated in the studio audience. Laura June Williams (later Kenny) states that she can be seen very briefly in this film wearing plaid, so perhaps she's in the audience, but I can't spot her anywhere. The payroll ledger doesn't mention her.

the animals:

Pete the Pup IV
Bit part. He's shown outside the window as Tommy announces to the gang that they're going on the radio.
Leo
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.

the adults:

William Irving as the announcer
Featured role. He suffers through the various acts, as well as the gang's lack of professionalism.
James C. Morton as "Mr. Morton," the station manager
Featured role. He tries to convince the sponsor of the program's worthiness.
Frank H. LaRue as "Mr. Barker," the sponsor
Supporting role. He sits through various bad acts, and is about to walk out when the gang starts their performance.
Sid Walker as the radio engineer
Supporting role. His hair keeps popping up every time the gang makes a loud noise. It seems that he's the one the announcer addresses as "Charlie." In Tommy Bond's autobiography, Bert Gordon is erroneously credited with this role.
Isabel La Mal as Leonard's mother
Supporting role. She's a somewhat pushy stage mother. Maltin & Bann credit her with playing the receptionist, and call her Isabel La Malle.
Billie Van Every as "Miss Brown," the receptionist
Small part. She's confused when she's presented with the gang. Maltin & Bann credit Isabel La Malle with this part.
Marvin Hatley as the piano player
Small part. He's shown in the background throughout much of the film.
Charlie Hall as the elevator operator
Bit part. He has to wait while the gang gradually exits the elevator.
Doc Kelly
Extra. He's the rotund man in the elevator. Spanky crawls between his legs as he exits.
Joe Young as one of the parents
Extra. He seems to be the father of the boy in the cowboy outfit. He's shown in the background through most of the film.
other adults
Supporting roles, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The woman sitting in the background with the hula dancers.
(2.) Three men riding in the elevator.
(3.) At least 10 adults in the studio audience. Maltin & Bann list Fern Carter among them, but I'm not able to verify this by watching the film. She might be the woman second from the left in the front row.

the music:

"Little Dancing Girl" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931. Also known as "Dancing Girl" and "Dancing Girls." This is played over the opening titles and during the opening scene at the radio station.
"Honolulu Baby" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Oct. 18, 1933. This is played on the piano by Hatley as the producer is waiting for the gang to arrive. This song was introduced in the Laurel & Hardy feature "Sons Of The Desert."
"Jimmy Had A Nickel" by Maurice Sigler and Al Goodhart
While never a chart hit, this song was nevertheless performed variously by Eddie Cantor, Abe Lyman & His Orchestra, and Clarence Williams & His Orchestra. The version in this film is sung by The Two Darling Sisters, with piano accompaniment by Marvin Hatley.
"My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua" by Bill Cogswell, Tommy Harrison and Johnny Noble
Copyrighted in 1933. This song was introduced on July 4, 1933, at the canoe races in Kona, Hawaii. Cogswell was the lyricist and Harrison wrote the music, which was revised by publisher Noble. This was a number one hit for Ted Fio Rito & His Orchestra in early 1934. In this film, it's sung by one of the girls in the hula skirts, with tap dancing by Billy Lee and piano accompaniment by Marvin Hatley.
"My Wild Irish Rose" by Chauncey Olcott
Copyrighted in 1899. From the Broadway musical "A Romance Of Athlone." It was a number one hit in 1899 for both George J. Gaskin and Albert Campbell, and made the top ten for four more artists through the next two decades. This film includes a solo trumpet version mimed by Leonard Kibrick.
"The Man On The Flying Trapeze" by George Leybourne, Gaston Lyle, Alfred Lee and Walter O'Keefe
Lyrics written by Leybourne in 1867 with music by Lee and Lyle. Later re-written by O'Keefe and copyrighted in 1933. Performed by Rudy Vallee in "George White's Scandals," it was also a number six hit for O'Keefe in early 1934. In this film, it's performed by The International Silver String Submarine Band, with a short portion repeated over the end title.
other music
Various instruments are played momentarily, such as when Spanky blows through the harmonica and gets water on the announcer's shoes, and then as Tommy instructs each kid to sound a note from their respective instruments, with Stymie hitting his drums, Alvin blowing his harmonica, Jackie strumming his ukulele, Scotty blowing his fife, and Spanky humming into his kazoo.

miscellaneous:

Six shooting dates went into the making of this film. Over six weeks had passed since shooting finished for "Honky-Donkey" (no. 129). Shooting for "Mike Fright" started on May 29th and continued until June 7th. There was no shooting on June 3rd, which was a Sunday, and May 30th, which was Decoration Day. These shooting dates derive from the dates on which day players were paid, and May 31st is another day when this was not the case. It's possible that no shooting took place on that day, or perhaps only contract players were needed. After this, almost four months would pass before the Our Gang unit began filming "Washee Ironee" (no. 131).

When Paramount announced that it was making a sequel to "The Big Broadcast," Roach decided to make "The Little Broadcast," that is, until Paramount cancelled its plans. The Roach film became "Mike Fright."

Of particular interest is the 1935 Vitaphone short called "Show Kids." This early Technicolor film features a performance of "My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua," performed by the same group of girls who performed it in "Mike Fright." The lead singer is the same little girl, and at least one of the backup girls is the same, though there are several more of them in the Vitaphone short. This short was released on January 5, 1935, but had been copyrighted on December 1, 1934, only a few months after the release of "Mike Fright."


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)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Drina Mohacsi (for identifying Gloria Ann White, and for specifying who the individual hula girls are)
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)
Randy Jones (for pointing out the possibility that Joy Wurgaft is the girl doing the backflips)
Matthew Lydick (for pointing out Tommy Bond's identification of the radio engineer as Bert Gordon)


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