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
It’s hard not to like Boxing Gloves’s central sequence—a boxing match between Norman ‘Chubby’ Chaney and Joe Cobb—it’s two little fat kids in enormous boxing gloves duking it out. It’s also the sequence where McGowan shows the most directorial zeal. Unfortunately, it’s the place where the short’s particular sound situation (it’s a silent converted to sound and most of the bout is eerily silent) is most damaging.
Overall, the short’s reasonably amusing. It’s my first Our Gang as an adult and there’s a definite appeal to it. More, actually, before the big boxing match, as H.M. Walker’s dialogue sounds more like adult dialogue—and situations—given to deadpan kids.
The treatment of Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins is interesting. He’s black and race is a nonissue; to say it’s uncommon for films of the era is beyond understatement. He easily gives the Gloves’s best performance, balancing charm and self-awareness.
Directed by Robert A. McGowan; screenplay by H.M. Walker, based on a story by McGowan and Hal Roach; director of photography, F.E. Hershey and Art Lloyd; edited by Richard C. Currier; music by Marvin Hatley; produced by Roach; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Starring Norman ‘Chubby’ Chaney (Chubby), Joe Cobb (Joe), Jean Darling (Jean), Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Bobby ‘Wheezer’ Hutchins (Wheezer), Mary Ann Jackson (Mary Ann), Harry Spear (Harry) and Jackie Cooper (Jackie).
Posted in 1929, Black and White, Comedy, English, Family, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Short, USA
Tagged Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Art Lloyd, Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins, Bobby Hutchins, F.E. Hershey, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Harry Spear, Jackie Cooper, Jean Darling, Joe Cobb, Marvin Hatley, Mary Anne Jackson, Norman 'Chubby' Chaney, Richard C. Currier, Robert A. McGowan