The Pinch Singer

film no. 143

technical details:

Production G-36.

Release no. C-214.

Filmed Dec. 11 to 21, 1935. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Title sheet prepared on February 13, 1936.

Cutting continuity submitted March 11, 1936.

Released January 4, 1936. It was the 141st film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted February 6, 1936, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation. Registration no. LP6139. Renewed June 21, 1963, with registration no. R317579. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2031.

All-talking two-reeler.

Opening title: 'Hal Roach presents Our Gang in "The Pinch Singer".'

King World Productions episode no. 44b, 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 Fred Newmeyer
This credit appears in the film.
Photography: Art Lloyd, 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
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.
Approved by the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Certificate no. 1853.
studio personnel
general manager - Henry Ginsberg
assistant general manager - L. A. French until early 1936
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
assistant secretary - Mat O'Brien
film editor and sound department - Elmer Raguse
story department - Jack Jevne
publicity and advertising - Fred Purner
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
property department - W. L. Stevens
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, Charlie Hall, Hal Law, John Guedel, Frank Tashlin, Harry Langdon 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.
animation effects - Probably the work of Roy Seawright.

the kids:

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as "Alfalfa"
Lead role. He fails the audition for the radio contest, but ends up replacing Darla and winning.
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. He's the leader of the gang and organizes the audition.
Darla Hood as "Darla"
Supporting role. She wins the audition, but shows up late for the radio contest and is replaced by Alfalfa.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He fools the kids into thinking he can whistle.
Billy Minderhout
Supporting role. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Billy Winderlout. This is the blonde boy who recites.
Eugene "Porky" Lee
Small part. The nickname wasn't used in this film. He operates the record player for Buckwheat.
Harold Switzer as "Harold"
Small part. He provides accordion accompaniment for Alfalfa and Darla.
Charles "Junior" Kavenaugh
Small part. He's the singer among The Famous Broadway Artists.
Jackie Morrow, Harry McCabe and Betty Cox
Small part. This is The Plantion Trio, who are probably also The Dixie Trio, as the announcer uses both names. Morrow is the one on the right.
Warner, Wolfgang and George Weidler
Small parts. They play The Boy Saxophone Players. Warner is the oldest, Wolfgang the middle boy, and George the youngest. Wolfgang was later known as Walt Weidler.
Jerry Tucker
Small part. He has very little dialogue, and is mostly an ensemble player in the clubhouse scenes.
Sidney Kibrick
Small part. He also has a bit of dialogue, but is mostly part of the ensemble.
Rex Downing
Small part. He's given a little dialogue, but is mostly part of the ensemble.
Joseph O'Brien, Dickie Jones, Buddy Londelius and Pete Troncale
Small parts. These are the boys among The Famous Broadway Artists. Shown left to right, they are O'Brien, Jones, Londelius and Troncale. We get pretty good looks at O'Brien and Jones in closer shots. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Bud Murray's Dancers.
Gloria Brown, Bernice Firestein, Betty Goble and Betsy Gay
Small parts. These are the girls among The Famous Broadway Artists. Shown left to right, they are Brown, Firestein, Goble and Gay. We get pretty good looks at Brown and Firestein in closer shots.
Peggy Lynch
Small part. She's entirely part of the ensemble until her closeup while on the phone.
Dickie Olson
Small part. He's also part of the ensemble until his phone closeup. He's the little guy with blonde hair.
Paul Hilton
Small part. He's another kid that only emerges from the crowd during the phone scene.
Stanford Kroman
Extra. He's the fat boy sitting in the front row during the auditions, just to the left of Buckwheat.
William McCreary
Extra. He's sitting in the front row during the auditions, just to the left of Stanford Kroman.
John Collum
Extra. He's seen in all of the shots of the kids reacting to the auditions.
Kay Frye
Extra. She appears to be the girl sitting in front and to the left during the auditions.
Marianne Edwards
Extra. She's seen in the same group shots during the auditions. This was her final appearance in the series.
Daniel Boone
Extra. He's seen in the very back towards the right side in the group shots during the auditions.
Dickie DeNeut
Extra. He's one of the club, but is only noticeable as the kids walk away from the radio.
Barbara Goodrich
Extra. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She's at the far right side in back during the kiddie auditions
Leonard Kibrick
He's not in the film, but appears in a couple of publicity photos taken on the set and involving a bass fiddle.
Donald Proffitt
He appears in the same publicity photos with Kibrick.
Mildred Kornman
Extra. The payroll ledger indicates that she worked in this film. In the shot of the audience applauding after Alfalfa's number, she appears to be the one young girl among them.
other kids
Extras. Maltin & Bann list Delmar Watson and Dorian Johnston, but the payroll ledger doesn't support this. There are a handful of additional kids in the gang's club, which seems to only number two additional girls.

the animals:

Pete the Pup IV
Supporting role. He handles the gong during the auditions. A studio press release describes Pete IV being visited on the set by his son, Pete the Pup V. The idea was to give Pete V some preparation for eventually replacing his father in the series. At the time of "Our Gang Follies Of 1938" (no. 162), Pete IV was still the dog used in the films, so it's probable that Pete V never did replace his father.
Bit part. The MGM lion appears at the opening of the film.
other animals
Bit parts. There are two mules in the gang's clubhouse.

the adults:

Blair Davies as the radio announcer
Supporting role. He's seen announcing the acts and trying to take Alfalfa's briefcase.
Bill Madsen as one of the pages
Supporting role. I'm assuming that Maltin & Bann are referring to the page that hands the phone results to the announcer.
Marvin Hatley as "Marvin," the conductor
Small part. He's seen conducting the orchestra in the radio studio.
David Sharpe as one of the pages
Small part. He's the page that tells Alfalfa that it's time to go on.
Eddie Craven as the elevator boy
Bit part. He's seen very briefly.
Charlie Hall as the druggist, and as a member of the audience
Bit part. He's barely noticeable in the drug store, and I haven't spotted him in the audience.
Lester Dorr as an audience member
Extra. He's shown to the far right in the longshot of the audience.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) Eight additional musicians in the orchestra.
(2.) The receptionist and six operators, one of whom is presumably Gail Goodson, who Maltin & Bann credit with playing the information girl.
(3.) Probably at least 30 audience members, one of whom is listed by Maltin & Bann as Chet Brandenberg, but I don't know which one.
(4.) Four people in the elevator and walking out of it, as well as a few more in the drug store.

the music:

"Good Old Days" by Leroy Shield
Copyrighted Jan. 10, 1931.
(A15.) This is played over the opening titles and as the kids listen to the radio. Half of it is repeated as Alfalfa gongs Spanky and the end title appears.
"Beyond The Rainbow" by Leroy Shield
This is heard briefly over the radio until Spanky shuts it off.
"On The Road To California"
Originated by the Mormons, reportedly after their expulsion from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846. Sung to the tune of "Old Dan Tucker." In this film, it's partially sung by Alfalfa three separate times.
"The Whistler And His Dog" by Arthur Pryor
Published in 1905. In this film, a record is played containing this piece, while Buckwheat pretends to be the whistler on the record.
"I'm In The Mood For Love" by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields
Published in 1935. This was a number one hit for Little Jack Little & His Orchestra that same year. In this film it's sung by Darla at the audition, and then by Alfalfa at the radio station. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman used a recording of Alfalfa singing this as their wedding song.
"Good Morning Children" by T. Marvin Hatley
Copyrighted Jan. 2, 1934. This is performed by The Boy Saxophone Players.
"Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue" by Ray Henderson, Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young
Also known as "Five Foot Two (Has Anybody Seen My Gal?)." Published in 1925. This was a number one hit for Gene Austin in 1926. In this film, it's sung by The Plantation Trio.
"Broadway Melody" by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Freed and music by Brown. Published in 1929. Ben Selvin & His Orchestra had a number three hit with this song that same year. In this film, it's performed by The Famous Broadway Artists.


Ten shooting dates went into the making of this film. Over two weeks had passed since shooting finished for "Divit Diggers" (no. 142). Shooting for "The Pinch Singer" started on Dec. 11th and continued until Dec. 21st. There was no shooting on Dec. 15th, which was a Sunday.

Somewhere around this time, Hal Roach brought Paul Dominick into the Our Gang fold. Sort of. Paul Dominick was the mascot of the 1935 National League pennant-winning Chicago Cubs. Roach saw a photo of him and decided that his seven year search for a replacement for Joe Cobb had ended. Reportedly, medical science had seen to it that the type of childhood obesity seen in kids like Joe and Chubby had become quite rare by 1936, but Paul was a notably rotund little fellow. The fact that he doesn't seem to have ended up in any of the films would suggest that he didn't have the talent to warrant his inclusion in the cast. But they did take a few photos, and we can narrow down the time period by the fact that Darla is blonde in these.

From the press release: "One youngster in about 1500 of those who seek to join the gang is ever chosen for this honor. Most are too large, too unnatural, too spoiled, too precocious or too something else. A few of them who do possess talent of a kind and other qualifications lack in screen personality. Others may be so artificial in their speech and manners that they are unsuitable. For this film, Gus Meins interviewed sixty juvenile applicants who sought extra work in the picture. Of this number, he singled out seven youngsters who seemed to have some possibilities. But when he gave them a scene to enact with Spanky, Darla and other regular members of his little troupe, they unconsciously displayed their respective weaknesses and were released. One of them became tongue-tied in front of the cameras. Another - an attractive little girl with big brown eyes and long curls - exhibited an affectation that she did not show when she was being interviewed. Still another pretty girl, about five years of age, cried lustily when approached by members of the Gang during a scene. The remainder of the kids were a total loss as potential actors."

The script submitted to MGM was given the catalog number B593.

The gang's club is called the Eagles Club in this film.

In 1988, a TV advertisement for Samsung included a clip from this film, showing Alfalfa singing "I'm In The Mood For Love."

See anything that needs changing? Contact me at

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Ray Frieders
for passing along the casting directory credit for Betsy Gay
Rob Stone
for providing the production number
Matthew Lydick
for pointing out the presence of Leonard Kibrick and Donald Proffitt in the publicity photos
for the correct spelling of Dickie DeNeut's last name
and for pointing out the Samsung commercial
Zadock Jarvis
for Junior Kavenaugh's first name and the correct spelling of his last name
Bob Peterson
for sending images of William McCreary and Stanford Kroman
Joe Moore
for providing the copyright information
Piet Schreuders
for identifying "Good Morning, Children"
Paul Mular
for providing info on the Cabin Fever laserdiscs

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