with Wally Albright and Sherwood Bailey
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Gordon Douglas
(Genius Products, 1929-1938)
By Alicyn Leigh
If you remember growing up and giving friends the secret “Hi!” sign or saying “O-tay!” then the The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection, released by Genius Products and RHI Entertainment, is one heck of a DVD gem to have on your shelf. The compilation boasts all 80 shorts, uncut and restored to perfection, and hosts talented child actors who portray the unforgettable characters, Spanky, Alfalfa, Froggy, Weezer, Pete the Pup, Miss Crab Tree and more, all under the supervision of legendary film producer, Hal Roach, who started the series in 1922. Roach was notorious for his hysterical skits that threw Our Gang, the lovable lower-class characters playing the roles of regular kids, into wild situations where their use of imaginative, homemade inventions got laughs every time.
Bonus features include three silent shorts, three featurettes, and filmed introductions. One commentary tells about Roach’s sale of the rights of The Little Rascals series to MGM in 1938. When the series was continued by another director, it did not receive the same positive response from fans and declined in popularity. After learning of the use of his series, Roach purchased the rights back in the 1940s. Later, in 1955, he launched the series on TV and it became a popular after-school show staple for kids of every age, making it one of the most successful in cinema history.
The packaging is festive, including a detailed timeline of the participating actors and a 12-page collectible photo booklet filled with trivia goodies making the 8-DVD package a great bang for the buck spent. Each short has been completely remastered from the original negatives achieving a sharp picture through DVNR technology; even the signature theme song, “The Good Old Days,” is crystal clear. No filmmaker has come close to Roach’s unique approach of portraying kids being kids through the magical performances of Our Gang during a forgotten era called the “golden age.”