The Big Show

film no. 7


availability:

The Original Little Rascals Comedies (2 Movie Collection) (VHS)
from Video Resource Distributors
Released in 1994. This is a home movie print made by Exclusive Movie Studios, Inc. in Chicago. All of the inter-titles seem to be intact, with the only thing keeping it from being a complete print being the replacement of the opening title card with one made by Exclusive. Even though this tape is recorded in EP mode, and is a bit too bright, I prefer it over the others listed below, which are too dark. This is also the only copy that has been sold in stores. The print totals 20:16, with 20:11 of it original footage. This video was repackaged as part of The Original Little Rascals Comedies (4 Movie Collection).

Our Gang Volume #1 (VHS) from Grapevine Video and also from The Picture Palace
This is also a home movie print by Exclusive Movie Studios, Inc., and is recorded in SP mode, but is too dark. The original footage totals 20:04. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.

Our Gang - Volume #1 (1922-1923) (DVD-R) from Grapevine Video
Released early Mar. 2006. This is the same print shown on the Grapevine VHS.

Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 11 (VHS) from Video Classics
This is essentially the same print as the Grapevine version.

Little Rascals Volume 5 (DVD) from East West Entertainment
This is the Exclusive print.

Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 6 (VHS) from HenryButch
This is the Exclusive Movie Studios print.

other releases
There was also, briefly, a homemade VHS available through eBay entitled "Old Time Comedies Vol. 46" which contained a home movie fragment from this film. The fragment carried the title "Wild Animals," and totaled 2:38.


technical details:

Production A-7.

Filmed July 28 to August 15, September 11 to 28, 1922, and January 10 and 11, 1923. See 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Released on February 25, 1923. It was the 9th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted February 26, 1923, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU18734. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Silent two-reeler.

Probable opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "The Big Show".' The lobby poster for this film reads this way, but the film itself may have read '"Our Gang" Comedy' or '"Our Gang" Series.'

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1021, "County Fair," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17326.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Probably credited in the film as a presenter.

Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit probably appears in the film, but without his middle initial.

Photographed by Len Powers
This credit appears in the Maltin & Bann book, and might appear in the film. The studio payroll summaries begin to list names starting the week ending Aug. 5th. Powers is listed that week and thereafter until the week ending Jan. 13th. So basically, his participation in this film can be verified with the exception of the first two days of shooting. It's likely, though, that he had been the cameraman for a few months already.

Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit probably appears in the film.

Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit probably doesn't appear in the film.

Teacher: Fern Carter
Her name first appears in the studio payroll summaries the week ending Sep. 16th, which means that the new school year probably began on the 11th.

Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.

studio personnel
possible uncredited involvement


the kids:

featured players
Jackie Condon
Featured role. He appears off and on throughout the film, being left out of the fun because he's too little, but getting his revenge in the long run.

Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as "Booker T."
Featured role. He seems to be the leader of the gang in this film. He gets to portray Uncle Tom in the gang's 'movie.'

Allen "Farina" Hoskins as "Farina"
Featured role. He's identified as Booker T.'s 'sister.' He appears off and on throughout the film, serving as security guard outside the entrance to the gang's fairgrounds.

Mickey Daniels
Featured role. He's in almost every scene, and gets to portray Douglas Fairbanks in the gang's 'movie.'

Jack Davis
Featured role. Maltin & Bann refer to him as Jackie in their cast listing. He appears in most of the scenes and gets to portray William S. Hart in the gang's 'movie.'

Joe Cobb
Supporting role. Joe, making his series debut, is one of the main kids in this film. He serves as the projectionist for the gang's 'movie.'

boy 007a
Supporting role. He's featured during the 'movie' sequence portraying Harold Lloyd. He's listed by Maltin & Bann as Billy Lord, but I don't think there's any resemblance.

Andy Samuel
Supporting role. He's featured during the 'movie' sequence portraying Charlie Chaplin, and is also seen during the 'wild animals' sequence in regular clothes. This was his series debut.

Mary Kornman
Supporting role. She's seen only during the 'movie' sequence, portraying Mary Pickford. This is the earliest film for which I'm able to verify her participation.


other kids
boy 007b
Bit part. This is the boy in charge of the shooting gallery. I'm pretty sure he's also in "The Champeen!" (no. 9). A title card refers to "Rooster" Davis, but it doesn't explicitly say that the boy running the booth is the same person.

boy 007c
Bit part. This is the blonde boy shown behind Ernie on the merry-go-round. I'm pretty sure he's also in "The Champeen!" (no. 9).

boy 005a
Bit part. The blonde boy painting on the left in the first shot of the gang's version of the fair looks like one of the boys in "A Quiet Street" (no. 5).

boy 007d
Extra. This is the boy that resembles Johnny Downs, sitting in the front row during the performance.

other kids
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The boy in the audience dressed as Ford Sterling.
(2.) The boy seen in closeup on the merry-go-round and later looking through the telescope. He's also seen walking through the kiddie zoo.
(3.) The rich girl who makes the face at the 'wild man.'
(4.) The smaller rich girl who seems to be the 'daughter' in the family.
(5.) The 'wild man.' He looks like he could be the second closeup boy on the merry-go-round wearing the cap.
(6.) The rich boy in the top hat.
(7.) The boy in charge of the telescope.
(8.) The little boy being held up to look at the 'wild cats.'
(9.) The boy shown going through the turnstile (twice). I'm pretty sure he's the one seen behind the Ford Sterling boy.
(10.) The very small girl trying to pet the pony and being shooed away by De Rues. She looks similar to Lassie Lou Ahern.
(11.) The tall girl holding up a small boy to look at the 'wild cats.'
(12.) There are anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five kids at the junior fair not already mentioned, mostly boys. The earlier scenes at the real fair show several kids in the distance.


the animals:

dog 001
Supporting role. He's seen off and on during the film.

mule 007 as "Featherfoot"
Supporting role. She appears early in the film pulling Ernie's wagon. Later played "The Sheik" in "Boys To Board" (no. 10).

Dinah the Mule
Supporting role. She's one of De Rues' animals. During the 'movie,' a kid-made title card refers to her as "Dinnah."

dog 003
Small part. Mary's dog during the performance, and also the 'raindeer.'

dog 002
Bit part. The 'north pole lion.' He previously appeared in "Fire Fighters" (no. 2) and "Saturday Morning" (no. 6).

dog 007
Bit part. The 'Afriken Polar Bear.' Possibly the dog that appeared in "The Champeen!" (no. 9).

other animals
Supporting roles and bit parts.
(1.) Yet another black pony with a white spot on its nose, or possibly the one from "Fire Fighters" (no. 2). This is one of DeRues' animals.
(2.) The Shetland pony owned by DeRues.
(3.) The 'fish hound.'
(4.) The 'Siberium See Lien.' Similar to dog 003.
(5.) The kitten in the cage on the merry-go-round, which seems to be the same one that gives Billy trouble during his act.
(6.) The two-tone pig that's passed off as a 'rhynorsurus' and also appears during the movie sequence.
(7.) A goat that's passed off as the 'rocky mountain zebra.'
(8.) A goat that's passed off as the 'cammel.' It may also be the same goat used for the lower half of the 'giraft.'
(9.) A goat that's passed off as the 'elefant.'
(10.) A goat that's passed off as the 'pet goof.'
(11.) A cow that's passed off as the 'wild cow.'
(12.) One of the 'wild cats,', possibly the same cat from "Our Gang" (no. 1).
(13.) The other 'wild cat,' possibly the same cat from "Fire Fighters" (no. 2).
(14.) A rabbit that serves as the head of the 'giraft.'
(15.) A dark pig that appears with the other pig during the movie sequence.
(16.) The white goose that's passed off as an 'ostrish,' which may have been previously seen.
(17.) The large goose that's passed off as a 'pelikan,' which may have been previously seen.
(18.) The large goose that chases Farina, which may be the same as the 'pelikan.'
(19.) The white goose in polka dots, which may have been seen previously.
(20.) The squirrel in the wheel at the shooting gallery.


the adults:

Roy Brooks as "De Rues"
Supporting role. He appears twice in the film, and has the biggest role among the adults. Maltin & Bann list Lincoln Stedman, but since they name Brooks in other instances that aren't him, I'm thinking that all the Stedman listings are actually Brooks.

Dick Gilbert as the security guard
Supporting role. He's seen in the opening scenes as the boys are trying to sneak into the fair.

Harold Lloyd
His picture is shown on a poster at the entrance of the gang's 'picher show.'

Charles Chaplin
His picture is shown on a poster for "The Idle Class" shown at the entrance of the gang's 'picher show.'

William S. Hart
His picture is shown on a poster for "John Petticoats" shown at the entrance of the gang's 'picher show.'

Douglas Fairbanks
It appears that he's shown on the poster above Harold Lloyd's.

other adults
Small part and extras.
(1.) The police officer who appears briefly at the very end of the film.
(2.) Dozens and dozens of adults seen during the opening fairground shots, but it's impossible to identify them.


the locations:

Motor Avenue, Palms district, Los Angeles
According to the 1922 datebook, Palms was used as a location on Aug. 8th and 9th.

the fairgrounds
The adult fair is obviously the real thing, with the Roach studio taking the opportunity to get some footage.

racetrack
The datebook also reveals that footage was shot at a racetrack on Sep. 20th. It's likely that the footage of the Our Gang boys sneaking into the fairground at the beginning of the film was actually shot at a racetrack. Or perhaps the actual adult fairgrounds, being temporary in nature, were located at a racetrack.


miscellaneous:

According to the 1922 and 1923 studio datebooks, 32 shooting dates went into the making of this film. However, it should be noted that the datebooks don't mention production A-9 ("The Champeen!") at all. It's probable that production number A-8 ("The Cobbler") was absent-mindedly pencilled in on the A-9 dates, but since "The Big Show" had extensive reshooting during this latter period, some of the A-7 dates may have also involved the making of A-9. Filming for A-7 began on July 28th and initially ended on Aug. 15th. No shooting took place on July 30th, Aug. 6th, or Aug. 13th, which were all Sundays. Work then commenced on "The Cobbler" (no. 8) and (presumably) "The Champeen!" (no. 9) from Aug. 16th to Sep. 9th. After this, shooting was resumed for "The Big Show," taking place from Sep. 11th until Sep. 16th. For the 11th, the datebook states that 'added scenes' were filmed, but it's likely that this was the case for the entire week. The number A-7 was written over A-8 on the 16th, suggesting that things were taking longer than expected. No shooting took place on Sep. 10th or 17th, which were both Sundays. After devoting the 18th and 19th to "The Cobbler," more footage was shot for "The Big Show" from Sep. 20th to Sep. 28th. The datebook states that the 'racetrack sequence' was shot on the 20th, which probably indicates that the opening fairground footage showing the Our Gang boys was probably actually shot outside a local racetrack. Presumably, this is where shooting took place for all seven of these dates. Filming on the 28th was divided between "The Big Show" and "The Cobbler." No shooting took place on Sep. 24th, which was a Sunday. After two more days of retakes for "The Cobbler" on the 29th and 30th, shooting took place for "Boys To Board" (no. 10), "A Pleasant Journey" (no. 11), "Giants Vs. Yanks" (no. 12) and "Back Stage" (no. 13). Retakes for "The Big Show" then took place on Jan. 10th and 11th, 1923. Originally, the 10th was meant to be the 'finishing' date for "Back Stage," but this was achieved the previous day. The 11th was meant for "Dogs Of War!" (no. 14), but this production waited until the 12th. It's interesting to note that there were no gaps in the shooting schedule during this period, other than Sundays and holidays. "The Big Show" began the day after the retakes for "A Quiet Street" (no. 5) were finished, and "Dogs Of War!" began the day after "The Big Show" was (finally) finished.

According to Joe Cobb, he arrived at the Roach studio in September, but didn't join the Our Gang unit until after working in Snub Pollard's "A Tough Winter." The weekly payroll summaries indicate that Joe was paid a full week's salary on Sep. 9th, so if he did start in September, then he was considered part of the Our Gang unit even while working with Pollard. This information supports the notion that the opening footage was shot in late September, since Joe is featured throughout that part of the film. It also makes sense that, perhaps, the cutaway shots of Joe during the 'movie stars' section of the film were shot on the January dates as a way of getting him into the second half of the film.

There were 40 copies of this film printed for its initial release.

The opening shot in the film is of a sign advertising the Lincoln County Fair, and saying that it lasts from September 9 to 14. Research reveals that California has never had a Lincoln County.

At the grown-up fair, there are some signs that are partially covered up, but one seems to identify Maria Calvo, and another Edythe Sterling, A Daughter of the West.


©Jan. 9, 2005, by Robert Demoss.
2005 updates: 2/27, 3/8, 4/25, 9/6, 12/15.
2006 updates: 1/9, 3/12, 4/3, 5/16, 6/12, 10/25.
2007 updates: 4/1, 10/17, 10/20, 10/22, 11/5, 11/16.
2008 updates: 2/21, 3/31, 4/26, 4/29, 7/6, 7/28, 8/19.
2009 updates: 5/9, 5/18, 5/22, 7/23.


Thanks to Rob Stone and Joe Moore for assistance on this page.


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