It is difficult to put modern sensibilities aside when watching old time serial movies like The Little Rascals also known as Our Gang. A comment here to the Black kid about his watermelon patch, a few fat kids jokes there, references to being strapped somewhere else get in the way on enjoying this serial. Still, although it does not really work anymore, it is not difficult to see the charm in these short movies and understand why they were so popular with kids in those days. The Little Rascals or Our Gang shorts do have something many a modern movie for kids does not have: kids who act as real kids and not precious precocious Hollywood creations.
The Little Rascals DVD from Catcom in their Comedy Classics series gives a good idea of what The Little Rascals or Our Gang shorts were all about. The first episode, Our Gang Follies (1938), is probably the best on this particular DVD and features Alfalfa. The kids decide to put on an amateur show and Alfalfa, thinking he is an opera singer refuses to sing as a crooner. The plot involves a dream episode where Alfalfa sees his future, wakes up and realizes the follies of his ways, and joins the show after all. Although a modern child might not appreciate this episode, adults will enjoy it overall, especially when they notice that even in the dream sequence some twenty years later the kids' characters are still played by the kids themselves and not adults.
Episode 2 of The Little Rascals DVD is another Our Gang short. This time, the kids, thinking their teacher is going to get married and leave them, play a series of tricks on the man they believe to be her beau. Fans of continuity and logic might not really go along for the ride but otherwise it is an interesting episode if not a great one. Teachers will notice the one class schoolroom and the questions the teacher asks the kids and wonder why kids today probably could not answer them.
The Little Rascals DVD from Catcom Home Video has, as a third episode Bear Shooters. The kids go bear hunting in a nearby woods, disturb two local guys who do not want to be disturbed, one dresses up as a gorilla to scare the kids, and the kids capture the gorilla. The quality of the print used is not that good but still watchable. This short of The Little Rascals is not the best on this DVD. It's something you watch to get an overall appreciation of this much talked about and referred to but rarely seen serial.
The fourth short on this DVD is a studio who's who titled The Stolen Jools. This short is available on some Laurel and Hardy and some old Hollywood DVDs also because it features not only Our Gang but also Laurel and Hardy, Maurice Chevalier, Edward G. Robinson, the Keystone Cops, Joan Crawford (who gets blamed for the theft, not the first time Evil Joan gets blamed for something, Gary Cooper, Buster Keaton, George Burns, and many other stars. Someone stole Norma Shearer's jewels and all these characters are out trying to solve the mystery. It may be a little obvious scenes were spliced in one after the other so continuity wise it's hard not to get jarred but the print of The Stolen Jools on this DVD is high quality, even considering its age and overall it is an interesting gallery of Hollywood's who's who.
An added bonus on The Little Rascals Comedy Classics is 6 cartoons: Betty Boop and Henry, Burt Gillett's Rainbow Parade, A Mutt in a Rutt, Gabby in Fire Cheese, Old McDonald Had a Farm, and Tom & Jerry (not the cat and mouse but the original black and white boys