Released in four versions with a different language spoken by the actors in each one: English, Spanish, French, and German. The new dialogue was not dubbed in; instead, each scene was shot four times, one take for each language. This process was helped with the aid of language tutors, blackboards placed out of camera range with the phonetic dialogue written on them, and the hiring of foreign actors for the incidental roles. This process was also used in the Little Rascals shorts The First Seven Years (1930) and When the Wind Blows (1930). See more »
"A Tough Winter" has some funny and some uncomfortable moments
Rounding out the 1929-30 all-talkie "Our Gang" release schedule, "A Tough Winter" features two storylines. First, Wheezer and Mary Ann, home alone on a wintry day, decide to make some taffy. Little Wheezer relays the directions to Mary Ann from a radio cooking show. The problem: Wheezer relays information from different shows and Mary Ann ends up putting soap in the mix! Funny moments occur when the rest of the Gang shows up to pull the taffy - and end up getting it all over the house!
The second storyline deals with Stepin Fetchit, a neighbor/handyman of the Gang, and his interactions with the Gang.
"A Tough Winter," to my knowledge, has never been shown on television, although it is available on home video. The reason for this is the Stepin Fetchit characterization which shows a shifty, sly, and slow-moving character. "Our Gang" producer Hal Roach called Fetchit a "skilled comic" and used this "Our Gang" entry as a pilot for a Fetchit comedy series that never saw the light of day. Understandably, Fetchit's characterization is offensive to many people today, which explains why the film has been shelved.
Although there are some funny moments both with Fetchit and the taffy, "A Tough Winter" is a plodding and meandering effort. If one positive came out of this film, it was that the Hal Roach Studios grew confident and experienced in making talkies. The sound in the film is good, and some of the sound effects used are very funny. For this reason, this film in part paved the way for the excellent 1930-31 "Our Gang" films.
3 out of 10.
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