A scene from GOOD CHEER, directed by Robert F. McGowan for Pathé Exchange.

Good Cheer (1926, Robert F. McGowan)

Good Cheer is unexpected. It’s the only Our Gang Christmas short and it’s a mix of high concept morality and special effects extravaganza.

The short opens with a lot of ice storm effects, down to cats and mice being affected, and it’s excellent work. There’s also some great composite photography bringing toys to life in a shop window. But the kids discover the storefront Santa is just a guy in a beard and become disillusioned. So a couple of the other kids start selling hot bricks to make money to make the littler kids toys.

So here we have the first altruistic element.

Then, for Christmas, there’s a gang of crooks dressed as Santa. They get stuck in the gang’s building (in the twenties, orphans lived unsupervised) and end up having to give out their loot as gifts.

The second half’s off, but the charming beginning makes up for it.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert F. McGowan; written and produced by Hal Roach, titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Art Lloyd; edited by Richard C. Currier; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Jannie Hoskins (Arnica), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Joe Cobb (Joe), Mickey Daniels (Mickey), Mary Kornman (Mary) and ‘Tonnage’ Martin Wolfkeil (Store window Santa).

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