A scene from BACK STAGE, directed by Robert F. McGowan for Pathé Exchange.

Back Stage (1923, Robert F. McGowan)

Back Stage opens with a vaudeville owner, played by William Gillespie, coming to town. Once the show’s presence is established, the narrative moves to the gang. They’ve turned a car into a donkey-powered double decker bus. It’s an extremely complex contraption. It doesn’t seem likely a bunch of kids could have constructed it, but the mechanics are interesting to watch in action.

Following that lengthy sequence, the gang ends up at the show. Some of the gang are put to work, the others just disrupt from the audience. Here, the steady jokes flow, even on the title cards. There are a couple excellent ones.

The show belongs to Farina, who doesn’t just disrupt… he demolishes. Gillespie watches in confusion–and the audience in delight–as Farina improves the acts by undermining the adults.

I can’t forget… there’s also an adorable monkey.

It’s a charming, if overlong, Our Gang short.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert F. McGowan; written and produced by Hal Roach, titles by H.M. Walker; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Andy Samuel (Andy), Ernest Morrison (Ernie), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Jack Davis (Jack), Joe Cobb (Joe), Mickey Daniels (Mickey) and William Gillespie (Vaudeville Leader).

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