Little Sinner

film no. 140


technical details:

Production G-33.

Release no. C-212.

Filmed July 8 to 16, 1935. The second Beau Hunks CD states that it was produced in August. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details. It should also be noted that Eugene "Porky" Lee reportedly joined the gang when he was nineteen months old, which was at the end of May or the beginning of June. However, the payroll ledger states that he began with the series as "Little Sinner" started shooting.

Copyrighted September 4, 1935, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP5805. Renewed June 21, 1963, with registration no. R317566. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2030.

Released October 26, 1935. It was the 139th film in the series to be released.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "Little Sinner".'

King World Productions episode no. 52b, 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: Francis Corby, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Film Editor: Louis McManus
This credit appears in the film.
Sound: William Randall
This credit appears in the film.
Animal Trainer: Tony Campanaro
Verified by the press release. He was, at this time, foreman of the Roach Ranch.
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.
Approved by the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Certificate no. 1053.
studio personnel
general manager - Henry Ginsberg
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
publicity and advertising - Fred Purner
property department - W. L. Stevens
film editor and sound department - Elmer Raguse
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
process department - Roy Seawright
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
musical director - Marvin Hatley
makeup department - Jack Casey
hairdressing - Peggy Zardo
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, Hal Law, Frank Tashlin and Gordon Douglas may have been among the gag writers.
property department - Charles Oelze was probably involved in this capacity.
titles - Louis McManus probably designed the main titles.

the kids:

George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky" aka "Spank"
Lead role. He plays hooky from Sunday school to go fishing.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Featured role. He tags along after Spanky and shares in his spooky adventure in the woods.
Eugene "Porky" Lee as "Porky"
Featured role. He also tags along after Spanky and spends most of the film eating. This was his debut appearance.
Jackie Banning as "Marianne"
Small part. Spanky gives her money to put into the collection plate. This part was supposed to go to Marianne Edwards (which explains the character name) but, as Lord Heath explains on his website, illness forced a casting change.
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer
Small part. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He has his fair share of dialogue among the kids at the church, but isn't featured strongly in this film.
Jerry Tucker
Small part. He also has a reasonable amount of the dialogue among the secondary kids.
Sidney Kibrick
Small part. He has a few lines as well, but is shown only in the church scenes.
Donald Proffitt
Small part. He's purely part of the ensemble in this film.
Rex Downing
Small part. He's purely part of the ensemble in this film.
Barbara Goodrich
Extra. She's among the girls talking with Mary Ann. She's the brunette girl whose face is shown.
Phillip Marley Rock
Extra. A 1935 casting directory states that this plump little boy appeared in this film, and indeed, he can be seen being led into the church in the first scene.
Joan Lott
Extra. A 1935 casting directory states that she appeared in this film. It looks like she's the blonde girl walking out of the church and turning and smiling towards the camera.
Mildred Kornman
Extra. The payroll ledger indicates that she worked in this film, presumably seen entering and exiting the church.
Marcheta Condict
Extra. She was Spanky's real-life cousin from St. Louis, and while visiting California, got to appear as one of the congregation in this film. A newspaper photo reveals her to be blonde, but her face is darkened to the point that her features can't be made out.
other kids
Extras. There are several additional kids walking into and out of the church, but it's not possible to positively identify most of them in this film. Presumably, Maltin & Bann had one or more publicity photos to aid them, as their cast listing includes Dickie De Neut and John Collum.

the animals:

Bozo
Small part. This is the duck that battles with Spanky over the worm. He was four years old and mastered by Tony Campanaro. The press release specifically says that he helps Spanky fish, which isn't the case at all.
Leo
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The fish on Spanky's line as he walks away from the lake. There are also two fish shown in the underwater shot.
(2.) Several earthworms.
(3.) The bear that Buckwheat encounters.
(4.) The owl that watches the 'ghost' fly by.
(5.) Three additional ducks shown in the lake at one point.
bugwatch
Several insects are flying around at the lake.

the adults:

Clarence Wilson as the property owner
Small part. He orders Spanky pull in his line and leave.
Ray Turner
Bit part. He's at the baptism and asks his friend when it will take place. Later he's seen losing his tent.
The Etude Chorus
Voice-over. They're heard singing the gospel music. This is according to the press release, which states that the group was made up of '25 Negro singers.' Maltin & Bann credit Frieda Shaw's Singers, but these are clearly two names for the same group. It was "The Etude Ethiopian Chorus" that worked in "Little Daddy" (no. 105), and Shaw is also known to have led "Frieda Shaw's Ethiopian Chorus."
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) "Reverend Dobson," who's seen greeting the kids early in the film, and then bidding farewell to the churchgoers at the end.
(2.) The person playing the scarecrow that runs off when the 'ghost' goes by.
(3.) Several adults walking into and out of the church. The reverend addresses one of them as "George."

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A14.) This is played over the opening titles and as we first see the kids. The last half-verse is played twice as Spanky returns to the church and the end title appears.
"Poor Mourners Found A Hiding Place"
This is the first gospel piece performed by Frieda Shaw's Singers.
"Oh, Lord, Won't You Save Me?"
This is the second gospel piece performed.
"Leaning On The Lord"
This is the last gospel song sung by Frieda Shaw's Singers.
"Fastie" by Leroy Shield
Most of this piece is played as Spanky and Buckwheat run through the woods.

the locations:

Berean Chapel Foresquare Church
This was located at the northwest corner of Woodbine Street and Mentone Avenue in the Palms district of Los Angeles. All of the church footage was shot here.
Lancaster's Lake aka Lancaster Lake
This is near Sunland, California, and is the location for the fishing scene.

miscellaneous:

Eight shooting dates went into the making of this film. Almost a month had passed since shooting finished for "Little Papa" (no. 139). Shooting for "Little Sinner" started on July 8th and continued until July 16th. There was no shooting on July 14th, which was a Sunday. After this, almost two months would pass before the Our Gang unit began filming "Our Gang Follies Of 1936" (no. 141).

On July 29th, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the following: "Mrs. Ethel Allen, Worth cashier, who is just back from Hollywood, watched the Lee infant at work on the Gang comedy. She saw him in the act of devouring a vase full of daisies and a raw fish, for one thing. It was a trick, that raw fish business. The fish he really ate was candy. They handed him a fish skeleton when he got through; persuaded him to throw it away for climax by promising him chewing gum."

On September 25th, the Hollywood Citizen-News included the following in Dallas MacDonnell's column: "He is so amiable and calm of temperament that they utterly failed to make him look frightened in a scene for 'The Little Sinner'...they tried everything and scared everyone on the set except Porky, including the grownups...finally when they fired a gun, Porky looked up at the camera and smiled."


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)
Matthew Lydick (for helping out with Jackie Banning and for the correct spelling of Dickie De Neut's last name)
Paul Mular (for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs)
Steven R. Wright (for noting that the film was not completely removed from King World's TV package during the seventies)
Elliot Unkefer (for pointing out the 'A14' arrangement of "Good Old Days")
Greg (for info regarding this film's inclusion in the television rotation)


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