General Spanky (1936)

72-73 mins | Comedy-drama | 11 December 1936

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Colonel Spanky . Although Elmer A. Raguse, head of the sound department at Hal Roach Studies, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound for this picture, only William Randall was credited onscreen. According to a news item in HR on 11 May 1936, co-director Fred Newmeyer was working with writer Richard Flournoy on the script, however, the extent of Newmeyer's contribution to the final script has not been determined. Portions of the film were shot on location on the Sacramento River, CA. This was the only "Our Gang" feature film and the only picture the characters made with an historical setting. General Spany was also the first feature film directed by co-director Gordon Douglas. According to a HR news item, The Elk Chanters, a group that provided some musical backgrounds for the films, were affiliated with local Los Angeles Lodge 99 and were Elks Club national champions. Modern sources include the following additional cast members: Von the Dog, Hooper Atchley, Karl Hackett, Ernie Alexander, Jack Hill, Ham Kinsey, Jack Cooper, Slim Whittaker , Harry Bernard, Alex Finlayson, Richard Neill and Portia ... More Less

The working title of this film was Colonel Spanky . Although Elmer A. Raguse, head of the sound department at Hal Roach Studies, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound for this picture, only William Randall was credited onscreen. According to a news item in HR on 11 May 1936, co-director Fred Newmeyer was working with writer Richard Flournoy on the script, however, the extent of Newmeyer's contribution to the final script has not been determined. Portions of the film were shot on location on the Sacramento River, CA. This was the only "Our Gang" feature film and the only picture the characters made with an historical setting. General Spany was also the first feature film directed by co-director Gordon Douglas. According to a HR news item, The Elk Chanters, a group that provided some musical backgrounds for the films, were affiliated with local Los Angeles Lodge 99 and were Elks Club national champions. Modern sources include the following additional cast members: Von the Dog, Hooper Atchley, Karl Hackett, Ernie Alexander, Jack Hill, Ham Kinsey, Jack Cooper, Slim Whittaker , Harry Bernard, Alex Finlayson, Richard Neill and Portia Lanning. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Oct 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Oct 36
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 36
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 36
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 36
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 36
p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Oct 36
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Oct 1936
p. 41.
Variety
3 Mar 36
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Pres
WRITERS
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Settings
Settings
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Colonel Spanky
Release Date:
11 December 1936
Production Date:
22 July--late August 1936
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
4 December 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6811
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
72-73
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2480
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Just before the start of the Civil War, six-year-old bootblack Spanky has to jump off a Mississippi River boat when his new little pal Buckwheat paints some of the passengers' shoes white to drum up business. Buckwheat, who is afraid he'll be shot as a runaway slave, soon follows, and the boys make their way to shore, then look food. Marshall Vallent, a kind man who had befriended Spanky on the boat, is against any war with the North, and is called a traitor by his friends. When Marshall encounters Spanky on shore, the boy convinces him that even though he is against war, he must stand by his friends. In gratitude for Spanky's advice, Marshall invites the boy to live with him and takes in Buckwheat as well, when he finds the hungry boy hiding under the dinner table. Some time later, the war between the North and South begins and Marshall, who has become a confederate officer, leaves Spanky in charge at home, and asks him to take special care of Marshall's sweetheart Louella, the daughter of elderly Colonel Blanchard. While the men are at war, Spanky, Buckwheat and their friend Alfalfa join other children in building a fort to protect the town. When some Yankee soldiers think that the fort is real, they fire upon it and make fools of themselves in front of their general when he arrives in time to see the "rebels" surrender. The bemused general commends the little soldiers for their bravery and calls Spanky "General Spanky." He then leaves the town in the care of Captain Simmons, who forcibly makes his headquarters in the Blanchard ... +


Just before the start of the Civil War, six-year-old bootblack Spanky has to jump off a Mississippi River boat when his new little pal Buckwheat paints some of the passengers' shoes white to drum up business. Buckwheat, who is afraid he'll be shot as a runaway slave, soon follows, and the boys make their way to shore, then look food. Marshall Vallent, a kind man who had befriended Spanky on the boat, is against any war with the North, and is called a traitor by his friends. When Marshall encounters Spanky on shore, the boy convinces him that even though he is against war, he must stand by his friends. In gratitude for Spanky's advice, Marshall invites the boy to live with him and takes in Buckwheat as well, when he finds the hungry boy hiding under the dinner table. Some time later, the war between the North and South begins and Marshall, who has become a confederate officer, leaves Spanky in charge at home, and asks him to take special care of Marshall's sweetheart Louella, the daughter of elderly Colonel Blanchard. While the men are at war, Spanky, Buckwheat and their friend Alfalfa join other children in building a fort to protect the town. When some Yankee soldiers think that the fort is real, they fire upon it and make fools of themselves in front of their general when he arrives in time to see the "rebels" surrender. The bemused general commends the little soldiers for their bravery and calls Spanky "General Spanky." He then leaves the town in the care of Captain Simmons, who forcibly makes his headquarters in the Blanchard house. Meanwhile, Marshall has been wounded nearby and drags himself back to town where he is found by Spanky and his dog. They hide Marshall in their secret cave and summon Louella to help, but a suspicious Simmons follows Buckwheat to the cave and arrests Marshall. At a court-martial, Marshall is convicted as a spy and condemned to death, even though some members of the court think that the evidence is flimsy. When Marshall is sentenced to be shot, Spanky gets the idea to visit the Yankee general and ask for his help, as one general to another. After hearing Spanky's story, the Yankee general accompanies Spanky back to town, re-opens Marshall's court-martial, apologizes to Colonel Blanchard for Simmons' behavior, then has Simmons arrested. The general then arranges for Marshall to be included in an exchange of Northern and Southern prisoners of war if Marshall promises to return to civilian life. Finally, as a reward for his actions, the Yankee general is given an honorable induction into the children's army. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.