I expected an Our Gang short titled War Feathers to be racist, but I was unprepared for how racist it gets.
It opens with the kids torturing a train conductor–and Joe Cobb in blackface. Sorry, “chocolate” face. The poor conductor doesn’t just have to try to contain them, he’s also got them pretending to be good for their parents. Of course the parents don’t believe a black train conductor.
It makes you wonder if the point’s to want to see the kids drown.
Then the kids leave the train and go to an Old West town. There they see a lot of Native Americans. One eventually kidnaps Farina.
In an interesting turn of events, after outlaws kidnap Farina again, he gets sick. They try to help him, making them the nicer than anyone else in Feathers.
It finishes with the Gang stranded in the wilderness. Unfortunately not to stay.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Robert A. McGowan; written and produced by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; edited by Richard C. Currier; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Joe Cobb (Joe), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Jannie Hoskins (Mango), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Scooter Lowry (Skooter), Clifton Young (Bonedust), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Peggy Ahearn (Peggy), Mildred Kornman (Mildred), Chet Brandenburg (Rancher at the Whistling Clam), Allan Cavan (Train passenger), George B. French (Rancher at the Whistling Clam), Ham Kinsey (Conductor) and Sam Lufkin (Sheriff).
Posted in 1926, Black and White, Comedy, English, Family, Pathé, Short, USA
Tagged Allan Cavan, Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Chet Brandenburg, Clifton Young, George B. French, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Ham Kinsey, Jackie Condon, Jannie Hoskins, Jay R. Smith, Joe Cobb, Johnny Downs, Mildred Kornman, Peggy Ahearn, Richard C. Currier, Robert A. McGowan, Robert F. McGowan, Sam Lufkin, Scooter Lowry
Helping Grandma gives the impression directing Our Gang shorts for so long, McGowan lost (or never developed) any ability to direct adults. The way he holds shots on the kids, making sure they get their gags done, makes sense… even if it lacks any artistry. But in Grandma, he inexplicably holds shots on Margaret Mann. She’s not doing gags, just poorly delivering dialogue. It’s completely unnecessary.
The story concerns the gang helping Mann at the grocery store. The short actually does distinguish itself in a few ways. First is the racism. The older kids don’t treat Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins any different, but the younger ones do. Bobby ‘Wheezer’ Hutchins is constantly abusing Matthew ‘Stymie’ Beard and Grandma makes high minded “watermelon” jokes at Beard’s expense.
Second, there’s an anti-corporate sentiment about chain stores. It’s sort of interesting… though it’s eventually invalidated.
Grandma could be worse. But not by much.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan; written by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Art Lloyd; edited by Richard C. Currier; produced by McGowan and Hal Roach; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Starring Bobby ‘Wheezer’ Hutchins (Wheezer), Matthew ‘Stymie’ Beard (Stymie), Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Mary Ann Jackson (Mary Ann), Norman ‘Chubby’ Chaney (Chubby), Jackie Cooper (Jackie), Shirley Jean Rickert (Shirley), Clifton Young (Bonedust), Dorothy DeBorba (Dorothy), Donald Haines (Speck), Oscar Apfel (Mr. Pennypacker) and Margaret Mann (Mrs. Margaret Mack).
Posted in 1931, Black and White, Comedy, English, Family, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Short, USA
Tagged Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Art Lloyd, Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins, Clifton Young, Donald Haines, Dorothy DeBorba, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Jackie Cooper, Margaret Mann, Mary Ann Jackson, Matthew 'Stymie' Beard, Norman 'Chubby' Chaney, Oscar Apfel, Richard C. Currier, Robert F. McGowan, Shirley Jean Rickert