From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals or Hal Roach's Rascals, was a long-lived series of American comedy short films about a group of poor neighborhood children and the adventures they had together. Created by comedy producer Hal Roach, Our Gang was produced at the Roach studio starting in 1922 as a silent short subject series. Roach changed distributors from Pathé to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1927, went to sound in 1929, and continued production until 1938, when he sold the series to MGM. MGM continued producing the comedies until 1944. A total of 220 shorts and one feature film, General Spanky, were eventually produced, featuring over forty-one child actors. In the mid-1950s, the 80 Roach-produced shorts with sound were syndicated for television under the title The Little Rascals, as MGM retained the rights to the Our Gang trademark.
The series, one of the best-known and most successful in cinema history, is noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way. While child actors are often groomed to imitate adult acting styles, steal scenes, or deliver "cute" performances, Hal Roach and original director Robert F. McGowan worked to film the unaffected, raw nuances apparent in regular kids. Our Gang also notably put boys, girls, whites, and blacks together in a group as equals, something that "broke new ground," according to film historian Leonard Maltin. Such a thing had never been done before in cinema, but was commonplace after the success of Our Gang.