Monday, September 28, 2009

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and sees PECK'S BAD BOY

The 5-week Pleasanton-athon continues, this weekend with Jackie Coogan (decades before he became Uncle Fester on TV).

But first a couple of shorts:

I'M ON MY WAY (1919): Harold Lloyd almost always gets the girl in his movies. Well, this one starts with him already with the girl (it's his wedding day). But a few minutes with his neighbor (who's been married so long he no longer feels pain) and his family convinces him that bachelorhood is the life for him. Very funny.

45 MINUTES FROM HOLLYWOOD (1926): This is notable as the first time Hal Roach put both Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel on screen. However, it's not a Laurel and Hardy movie. In fact, they don't even appear on screen together (although they come within a knocked-down door of appearing together). Instead, the star in Glenn Tryon playing a country boy who comes to Hollywood and has an adventure involving a bank robber posing as an actor playing a bank robber (follow that? It's easier in the movie itself).

And then finally the feature. PECK'S BAD BOY (1921): Jackie Coogan was the original child star, although his career was nearly cut short by a fractured head while filming this movie shortly after his debut in Chaplin's THE KID. As it is, this is the precursor to Bart Simpson, Dennis the Menace, all the "little mischievous scamp" stories, and based on a series of stories by George W. Peck in the late 1800's. The movie introduces the main characters--his loving mother, his long-suffering father, his beautiful sister, and the bad boy himself--Henry Peck--first seen running from a lion he just released from the circus. Mostly the story is a series of funny adventures (sometimes touching, like when he spends his church money on an ice cream cone for a little girl after bullies steal hers). But things get interesting when a handsome doctor comes to town and starts dating his sister. Unfortunately, his dad is working on a big deal with an inventor and an important document has gone missing. Turns out Peck's mischief might have gone too far. It's a pretty funny movie and although the overall story arc kinda meanders, there's always some wacky antics to keep you entertained.

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