Tag Archives: Jay R. Smith

Boys Will Be Joys (1925, Robert F. McGowan)

Boys Will Be Joys is a strange Our Gang outing, simply because the story doesn’t belong to the Gang. Instead, sixty year-old industrialist Paul Weigel has grown bored being a successful grown-up and just wants to goof off.

Luckily, he happens to be developing a plot of land the Gang has built an incredible amateur amusement park on and they come by his office demanding he stop developing.

There’s a shocking lack of tension to Joys. It’s fairly certain from a few minutes in–after Weigel bats a couple balls with some teenagers in a ballgame–the Gang isn’t going to meet with much resistance from the “adult.” Weigel even orders his subordinates to run the machinery so the boys can enjoy the rides.

McGowan’s got some decent shots and the amusement park set-up is rather impressive.

I think there’s only one gag in the entire picture.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

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

Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Andy Samuel (Andy), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Jannie Hoskins (Jannie), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Joe Cobb (Joe), Mickey Daniels (Mickey), Mary Kornman (Mary) and Paul Weigel (Henry Mills).


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War Feathers (1926, Robert F. McGowan and Robert A. McGowan)

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.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

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).


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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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