Category Archives: 1926

Saturday Afternoon (1926, Harry Edwards)

Even though Saturday Afternoon is astoundingly bad on every expected level and a few unexpected ones, I guess I’m glad to know there were always terrible comedies. It’s not some recent invention, post-television. There was always tripe.

The story is pretty simple. Harry Langdon is a moron married to an evil witch of a wife, played by Alice Ward. There’s also this very interesting inference Ward has been around a little and picked Langdon because of his stupidity.

Oh, I forgot to mention, writers Arthur Ripley and Frank Capra slather on the misogyny (not just Ward) with a wide brush.

Except Langdon’s trying to step out on Ward and the audience is supposed to sympathize. But he’s so stupid, it’s impossible.

Technically, Langdon’s performance is bad. He doesn’t have any timing. His sidekick, Vernon Dent, is worse. Edwards’s direction goes beyond bad to incompetent.

Afternoon‘s an unbearable 1,800 seconds.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Harry Edwards; written by Arthur Ripley and Frank Capra; titles by Al Giebler; director of photography, William Williams; edited by William Hornbeck; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Harry Langdon (Harry Higgins), Alice Ward (Mrs. Harry Higgins), Vernon Dent (Steve Smith), Ruth Hiatt (Pearl), Peggy Montgomery (Ruby) and Leo Willis (The Rival).


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Alice in the Wooly West (1926, Walt Disney)

While the title suggests this cartoon is about Alice, it’s really about her sidekick, Julius; he’s the attraction of Alice in the Wooly West. Maybe Disney just didn’t have the budget to have Alice (here played by Margie Gay) do any actual action shots. The mix of live action and animation, like a lot of Wooly West, is ambitious but Disney isn’t able to realize it.

The cartoon’s real problem is the animation. Disney will come up with great shots and the animation just can’t sell them. There’s also a lot of repetition in the gags, maybe even reused frames. There’s about three minutes of content in six minutes of film.

But Wooly West is appealing thanks to Julius. While he’s a little shy with the ladies, Julius is an absolute Western badass of the Clint Eastwood variety. It kills any tension, but it’s cute to see a gunslinging kitty.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Walt Disney; director of photography, Rudolf Ising; animated by Rollin Hamilton, Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Ub Iwerks; music by Paul Dessau; produced by Disney and M.J. Winkler; released by Margaret J. Winkler.

Starring Margie Gay (Alice).


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Buried Treasure (1926, Robert F. McGowan)

Buried Treasure would be a lot better if director McGowan knew how to embrace the absurdity of the short. The gang has made a seaworthy boat. They take it out to look for buried treasure. Unfortunately, everyone–dog and cat included–get seasick and they’re out all night.

Obviously, the Our Gang kids have difficult home lives… but no one noticed they were missing?

Then they land, conveniently at their intended destination, and crash a location movie shoot. Instead of worrying about the kids or helping them, the movie extras decide to scare them.

Oh, and Farina pals around with a chimp. Regardless of the likely racial undertones, at least Farina got to have some fun this short. He and Joe are the only ones with any personality in Treasure.

The short also shows McGowan’s genre limitations. And the titles are dumb.

I guess Treasure‘s set is nice….

Otherwise, blah.

1/3Not Recommended

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), Jay R. Smith (Specks), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Joe Cobb (Joe), Mickey Daniels (Mickey), Mary Kornman (Mary), Charlie Hall (Man in gorilla suit), Jack Roach (Man in lion suit), Lyle Tayo (Johnny’s mother) and Dorothy Vernon (Mickey’s mother).


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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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