Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Having successful moved his top comedians Laurel & Hardy from short subjects to features, producer Hal Roach endeavored to do the same with the Our Gang Kids in 1936's General Spanky. Set in the South during the Civil War, the story focuses on Spanky (George "Spanky" McFarland), an orphaned shoeshine boy who works his way down the Mississippi by riverboat. After messing up the activities of crooked gambler Simmons (Irving Pichel), Spanky is forced to jump ship, along with his newfound buddy, fugitive slave child Buckwheat (Billy Thomas). The kids find shelter in the home of handsome Marshall Valiant (Phillips Holmes), who just before marching off to war instructs Spanky and Buckwheat to protect Marshall's sweetheart Louella Blanchard (Rosina Lawrence) in his absence. Taking his responsibilities seriously, Spanky forms a "home guard" consisting of Alfalfa (Carl Switzer), Porky (Eugene Lee) and several other local kids. In this capacity, they manage to fend off a clumsy Northern regiment commandeered by Spanky's old nemesis Simmons, thereby earning the lasting friendship of a kindly Yankee general (Ralph Morgan). The Civil War setting is not entirely appropriate to the antics of Our Gang, and as a result General Spanky is more peculiar than funny. The film's lukewarm box-office performance might have spelled the end of "Our Gang" had not Hal Roach's distributor, MGM, demanded that the series continue in short-subject form.
Civil-War [US], friendship, one-against-odds, rescue, resistance, slavery, war