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General Spanky (1936)

Passed  -  Family | Comedy  -  11 December 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 205 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 6 critic

A small boy is instrumental in a famous Civil War victory.


, (as Fred Newmeyer)


(original story and screen play), (original story and screen play), 2 more credits »
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Title: General Spanky (1936)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Spanky (as Spanky McFarland)
Phillips Holmes ...
Marshall Valient
Yankee General
Rosina Lawrence ...
Buckwheat (as Billie Thomas)
Alfalfa (as Carl Switzer)
Hobart Bosworth ...
Colonel Blanchard
Robert Middlemass ...
James P. Burtis ...
Boat Captain (as James Burtis)
Louise Beavers ...
Willie Best ...
Henry (as William Best)


A small boy is instrumental in a famous Civil War victory.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Family | Comedy


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Grande Generalzinho  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The initials of R. P. W. C. R. C. W. M. R. (Spanky's Confederate Army) stands for "The Royal Protection of Women and Children, Regiment Club of the World and Mississippi River". See more »


Spanky Leonard: [Spanky goes to another room, with Marshall Valiant, to complete shining his shoes, just as Spanky starts shoe-shining, Simmons dropped Poker card, on purpose, to cheat] You dropped this card, mister.
Simmons: That's not my card.
Spanky Leonard: Oh, yes sir, I saw you drop it.
See more »


Edited into The Our Gang Story (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Fighting For The Lost Cause With Spanky & Buckwheat
20 September 2001 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

During the War for Southern Independence, GENERAL SPANKY mobilizes his forces to defend the local women & children against a Yankee invasion.

In 1936, Hal Roach decided it was time for his popular OUR GANG kids to branch out into occasional feature-length films. With the big success of Shirley Temple in two Civil War period movies in 1935 (THE LITTLE COLONEL, THE LITTLEST REBEL), it was only natural that Roach would look in that same direction for his GANG. Although given a rather lavish production and distributed by MGM, GENERAL SPANKY was not a critical or box-office success. The little GANGsters would henceforth stick to short subjects.

Although he's given top billing & the title role, George ‘Spanky' McFarland is rivaled throughout the film's first half by little Billie ‘Buckwheat' Thomas. Here were two of the finest young actors to ever appear in American movies. With all the experience of old, seasoned pros, these two gamin could steal scenes & hearts with equal bravado. A constant joy, without a false note between them, they provide the essential reason for watching the film today.

Phillips Holmes gives a quiet, gentlemanly performance as Spanky's adult protector. Nearly forgotten now, Holmes was a fine actor who died much too soon, during World War Two. Genial Ralph Morgan is especially good as a sympathetic Union general - his scenes with Spanky are quite amusing.

Other OUR GANGers appear midpoint into the movie, most notably Carl ‘Alfalfa' Switzer; he gets to warble ‘Just Before The Battle, Mother.' Even pretty Rosina Lawrence (the GANG's schoolmarm) shows up to play Holmes' beloved.

Irving Pichel is particularly slimy as a cowardly cardsharp turned vindictive Yankee captain. Bumbling Willie Best & feisty Louise Beavers play Miss Lawrence's slaves.

It should be noted that there is racism in the film, not unusual for Hollywood of that era - but almost completely missing in the original series of OUR GANG shorts.

Fans of 19th Century music will enjoy paying attention to the soundtrack, which is a long succession of ancient tunes.

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