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Big Ears (1931)

 -  Family | Short | Comedy  -  29 August 1931 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 55 users  
Reviews: 10 user

Wheezer pretends to be sick in order to get his parents to stop fighting.

Director:

(as Robert McGowan)

Writer:

(dialogue)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Sherwood Bailey ...
Spud (as Hal Roach's Rascals)
Matthew 'Stymie' Beard ...
Stymie (as Hal Roach's Rascals)
Dorothy DeBorba ...
Dorothy (as Hal Roach's Rascals)
Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins ...
Wheezer (as Hal Roach's Rascals)
Donald Haines ...
Donald (as Hal Roach's Rascals)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Johnnie Mae Beard ...
Stymie's Mother
...
Wheezer's mother
Gordon Douglas ...
Orderly
Creighton Hale ...
Wheezer's father
Wilfred Lucas ...
Doctor
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Storyline

Wheezer's parents fight constantly. When he overhears them threatening divorce, he tells his friends in the gang. At first they think a divorce is something good, maybe something to eat. But when they find out what one really is, they devise a plan to get Wheezer's parents back together. They decide to give Wheezer all the medicines in his medicine cabinet to make him sick, so that his parents will forget their differences in their concern for their boy. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Family | Short | Comedy

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 August 1931 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Good Old Days
(uncredited)
Music by Leroy Shield
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User Reviews

 
Among the most grim of the Our Gang flix
8 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Usually, an Our Gang/Little Rascals film is a guarantee for 20 minutes of laughs and warm feelings. This isn't the case here.

Wheezer is upset because of his parents' constant (and admittedly hammy and unconvincing) arguments around the house about really silly things such as the coffee being cold and the toast not being buttered right. The writers seemed to have been asleep at the wheel on this one. He gets the parents to reconcile, but only briefly. He overhears his dad talking about a divorce, which drives him to go to his pal Stymie for solace. That is disturbed when big kid Donald Haines callously explains to Wheez what a divorce really means (always one in any crowd of kids) which starts the bawling Olympics all over again. This leads to the medicine cabinet scene where Stymie and Dorothy fill Wheez with stuff form the medicine cabinet to make him sick and hopefully encourage his parents to reconcile. Does it work? You'll see.

This is really grim and dark for an Our Gang comedy. Even the few gags that exist are mostly horrible by modern standards. This film would be unwatchable for anyone who's been through a divorce or experienced this as a child (which luckily, I didn't). Adults would be horrified by the sight of the unsupervised children playing with medicine and feeding Wheez whatever they could find. Was this considered funny in 1930? Stymie tells a yarn about his falling out of a window and not hurting his head but leaving a hole in the sidewalk (modern audiences may be unfamiliar with the ancient stereotype of the alleged hardness of Black people's skulls). YECCCH. Then Wheezers dad casually refers to Stymie in conversation with Wheez as a "pickaninnny." I'm no fan of politically correct prudery myself, but racially loaded language of this kind was actually quite rare in the Our Gang films.

Most Gang/Rascals films often climax with funny chase scenes or hilarious moments of suspense. That is not to be found here, just a VERY bad soap opera. This was not known to have been shown on television with the rest of the Gang/Rascals films. Wonder why? See it (with some Pepto-Bismol at your side) and you'll understand.


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