Requirement for Gang fans
Andre M. | Mt. Pleasant, SC United States | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary on Our Gang is one of the best I've seen on the subject. Pretty complete in it's telling of little known info on the Gang and lots of rare footage to boot! There are scenes from the early silents that are seldom seen such as "The Champeen" (1923-forerunner to 1929's Boxing Gloves), "Monkey Business" (1925), Shivering Spooks (1926), Giants Vs. Yanks (1923), and so forth. Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison (RIP, 1912-1989), the original Gangster, is also given his just due here. Along with obligatory footage of the Spanky and Alfalfa era, we also see a rare film of a 1937 reunion of the Gangsters from the silent and sound eras, including a fascinating scene with the adult Farina and the young Buckwheat introducing themselves.The essence of the Our Gang Rascals is summed up when the narrator recalls that all adults recall something of the gang of friends they had as children, thus accounting for the enduring appeal of the Gang Rascals.This is a good Goodtimes Video product, perhaps the best of their Gang compilations. However, there was an excellent Goodtimes Video called "Our Gang Comedy Festival 2" that featured some great scenes and some uncut silent episodes. Hopefully, this will be out on DVD soon. In the meantime, this DVD is a great companion piece to Leonard Maltin and Richard Bann's excellent book on this history of the Our Gang Rascals."
Joe | Upstate, NY | 11/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a big fan of Our Gang/Little Rascals, you'll really enjoy this. It's basically a two hour documentary of sorts that covers the personal lives of most of the rascals, as well as the in's and out's of the series. I was surprised to learn what they did with their lives, what other projects they worked on, and also, sadly, how some of them passed away. For the price, it's a steal."
Reliable Reviews Too | Carmel Valley, CA | 05/27/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
Those who have never seen the "Our Gang" series are better off buying the series (the 66-episode DVD) or a few episodes (a 4-episode DVD). There are partial clips of the series in this DVD, but they are partial clips of episodes rather than full episodes. In fact, partial clips of the series are most of the DVD. It is much more fun to see a full episode.
If you are fan of the series interested in the biography portion of the DVD there is some biography. I have read the following books, so it was tough for the film to tell me anything new.
"Darn Right, It's Butch: Memories of Our Gang the Little Rascals", by Tommy Bond.
"The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang", by Leonard Maltin.
This film does have some clips of the actors in their later years, but there are more such clips out there that this DVD does not contain. This film does not show Spanky and Darla interviewed in their later years on the Mike Douglas Show. The film does not say that Spanky got into Recreational Vehicle (RV) sales in his later years, and was successful.
The film touches on everything briefly. I would have liked greater depth in the actor's and producer's biographies, biographies about more of the actors, and more behind-the-scenes stories; instead of partial-clips from the series. There are a lot of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories in film and television that have never been told.
If you know nothing about the show's producer, and the actors in their later years, and are patient, this film has some interest. It is at a low price. The biography has none of the charm of the series, except by showing clips of the series.
The producer of "Our Gang" looked for the innocent, kid-next-door, who had charm. Alfalfa really was a hick from the hills, who occasionally sang off-key. Alfalfa and his brother really sang to audition for the producer in real life, and sang the same as they later appeared in their first episodes, "Beginner's Luck" and "Lucky Corner". Yes, they did exaggerate Alfalfa's off-key singing later on, but it was born of reality. Thus, the producer had not created the character of Alfalfa until he had met the real Alfalfa Sweitzer. Likewise, Don Knotts created the character of Deputy Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith show, who originally was planned to appear briefly, only in occasional episodes, with one speaking line. This film tells that Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney both applied to be in the Gang before they became famous, but were not chosen for the Gang, because "they did not fit". They were both trained professionals, who could sing and tap-dance, and who both went on to make excellent films in the right roles.
The "Our Gang" producer, Hal Roach, was a brilliant man. He started as an uneventful actor. We are all glad he switched to producing. He produced Laurel and Hardy, and gave Harold Lloyd his start ("Safety Last").
Jackie Cooper, one of the Gang, said that "Our Gang" would never be successfully copied, because it is an era gone by. Television has taken away from today's children the innocence of the children of that era."