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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 53 users  
Reviews: 9 user

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

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(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
Ann Christy ...
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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User Reviews

 
Don't try this at home, kids!
6 November 2004 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Whenever I hear a reference to 'the Little Rascals', I cringe. This is partly because I just don't find those kids very funny, but largely because there never really was a 'Little Rascals' movie. Hal Roach's long-running series of low-budget kiddie comedies were actually called the 'Our Gang' shorts ('Our Gang' being the title of the first film in the series). For some reason, the movie prints that have been syndicated for television were retitled 'Little Rascals'. If you own any movies with 'Little Rascals' in the credits, you've got a TV print.

'Big Ears' is one of the few sound-era Our Gang shorts that has never, to my knowledge, been shown on television. A previous IMDb reviewer says that this is because the storyline involves divorce, a traumatic subject for young children. Well, divorce is mentioned in the dialogue, but that's not why 'Big Ears' is too touchy for television.

The central character in 'Big Ears' is little Wheezer, one of the more annoying kids in Our Gang (which is saying a lot!). The title 'Big Ears' doesn't actually refer to over-sized lugs. It's the nickname for somebody who pokes his ears into conversations where he shouldn't be listening. Wheezer overhears his parents having an argument, in which they consider getting divorced. With the typical logic of childhood, Wheezer decides to feign illness in the hope that his parents will be concerned about his health and forget about divorcing. Wheezer's buddy Stymie believes that Wheezer is actually sick, so he raids the medicine chest for something to dose him with. *This* sequence is the reason why 'Big Ears' is never shown on TV. The kids watching at home might get the idea that it's fun to grab random items out of the medicine chest and swallow them. I laughed as Stymie treated Wheezer's nonexistent illness with hair oil and other noxious substances ... but this is definitely not something that impressionable kiddiewinks should be watching.

At one point, Wheezer's father (played a bit too prissily by Creighton Hale) refers to African-American child Stymie as 'the little pickaninny'. A very few of the Our Gang films have racist plot lines -- notably the notorious 'Kid from Borneo' -- but many of the Our Gangs had casual examples of racial stereotyping that are tossed out at random. This is one such example, but it only lasts a few seconds in 'Big Ears' and could easily have been cut out. The real problem is the medicine-chest sequence, which is the only part of this movie that I laughed at. I do like the fact that the Our Gang comedies showed white and black kids playing together as equals, in a time when racial segregation was taken for granted ... but there's still plenty of racial slurs in these movies. I'll rate 'Big Ears' 4 out of 10.


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