The Little Rascals or Hal Roach’s Rascals) is a US serial of short films shown in cinemas from 1922 to 1944, focusing on the adventures of a group of children. Produced by Hal Roach, the series is known for showing relatively natural behavior of children, as Roach and the original director Robert F. McGowan worked to capture the pure and raw nuances of being a child, rather than taking them to act imitating the style of adults.
Even more remarkable and ahead of its time, having put white and black boys and girls together in a homogeneous group, something that had never been done before in American cinema and instead was resumed after the success of Sympathetic villains
Conceived by Hal Roach, the series was initially silent, produced under the title Hal Roach’s Rascals: each episode, lasting 20 minutes (only 30 minutes), had a plot of its own, with children as absolute protagonists. The direction of most of the short films was entrusted to the director Robert F. McGowan, while the rest to another 13 directors; Hal Roach and H.M. Walker (plus nine other writers) edited the script with the latter who also worked on the writing of intertitles. When Roach changed the distributor, moving from Pathé to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1927, converting the series to sound in 1929, it took off further. The production continued in these studios until 1938, when the series was sold to MGM, which continued to produce it until 1944. Funny rogues is made up of a total of 220 short films plus a film, General Spanky, in which 41 children from the series. Since after the purchase MGM maintained the rights to the original Our Gang brand, starting from 1955 the eighty sound episodes produced by Roach were broadcast in syndication with the new title of The Little Rascals. Both Hal Roach’s The Little Rascals package (now owned by CBS Television Distribution) and MGM’s Our Gang package (now owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment) have remained in syndication ever since, with some new productions appearing over the years as Little rascals, produced in 1994 by Universal Pictures.
Unlike many other productions with children as protagonists, often set in a fantasy world, Hal Roach wanted to strongly root his series in real life: the majority of children in the series are poor and the “gang” is often clashed with children rich and snobbish, with zealous adults and parents and other such opponents. Relevant was the fact that the gang also included black girls and boys in leading roles at a time when discrimination was still common.