Back Stage

film no. 13

technical details:

Production A-13.

Filmed December 15, 1922 to January 9, 1923. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Released on June 3, 1923. It was the 13th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted June 6, 1923, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU19038. 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 "Back Stage".' The heading may have instead read '"Our Gang" Comedy' or '"Our Gang" Series.'

Released into TV syndication probably as Mischief Makers episode no. 1036, "Show Business," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17341. Footage also went into episode no. 1071, "The Monkey Story," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17773. This latter episode also used footage from two Dippy Doo Dads short, "Handle 'Em Rough" and "The Man Pays," both from 1924.

the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Probably credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Tom McNamara
The film probably credits McGowan only, but without his middle initial F. McNamara's status as a co-director is revealed by Camera magazine for the week starting Jan. 8th.
Assistant Director: Clarence Morehouse
This credit derives from Morehouse's payroll status as the Our Gang assistant director during this period, as well as Camera magazine for the week starting Jan. 8th.
Photographed by Len Powers
This credit is based on Powers' payroll status as the Our Gang cameraman up until the week ending Jan. 13th, as well as Camera magazine for the week starting Jan. 8th. It's also possible that Harry W. Gerstad worked on the film, since he had been involved with the series by this time.
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit probably appears in the film.
Props by Charles Oelze and Dick Gilbert
This credit derives from their payroll status as Our Gang prop men during this period.
Story by Hal E. Roach and Tom McNamara
This credit probably doesn't appear in the film. McNamara was credited as a scenario writer in Camera magazine for the week starting Jan. 8th. R. H. Fahe was listed in the payroll summaries as an Our Gang gag man during this period.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
This was, incidentally, the 13th and last film delivered as per the original contract. A second contract arranged for films to be distributed through the current season and to the end of the following season.
Passed by the National Board of Review
Probably indicated in the film.
studio personnel
general manager - Warren Doane
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
purchasing superintendent - John L. Murphy
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves and Gene Kornman
possible uncredited involvement
supervision - Charles Parrott (better known as Charley Chase) may still have been director-general at the studio when this film was started, but had stepped down by the time of its release.
editing - Credit usually went to Thomas J. Crizer during this period.
titles - Tom McNamara probably illustrated the title cards.
writing - Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer and Leo McCarey may have contributed gags.

the kids:

featured players
Allen "Farina" Hoskins as "Farina"
Featured role. He's featured more than any of the other kids, and has his most notable outing so far, particularly when he's disrupting the show. He's a 'he' in this film.
Mickey Daniels as "Mickey"
Featured role. He's the tour guide on the gang's bus, and gets involved in helping the vaudevillian.
Jackie Condon as "Jackie"
Supporting role. He's the bus conductor in the early scenes, and helps the vaudevillian with his show in the later scenes.
Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as "Ernie"
Supporting role. He's the bus engineer in the earlier scenes, and takes part in the show later on.
Jack Davis as "Jack"
Supporting role. He's seen early in the film collecting bugs, which he unwittingly lets loose in the theater.
Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Supporting role. He's shown assisting Jack with his bug collecting, and then becomes a nuisance to the adults in the theater.
Andy Samuel
Supporting role. He's shown during the stage show, and is one of the main kids during this portion.

other kids
Dorothy Hughes as "Pansy"
Small part. She's seen briefly flirting with Mickey as she boards the bus.
boy 009b
Bit part. The second boy to board the bus, he was previously seen in "The Champeen!" (no. 9) and "A Pleasant Journey" (no. 11).
Peggy Ahern
Extra. She's the brunette girl with bangs shown in the audience with Lassie Lou Ahern.
Lassie Lou Ahern
Extra. She's the chubby brunette girl next to Peggy.
Gabe Saenz
Extra. He appears on the upper deck of the bus.
girl 011
Extra. She's seen riding on the upper deck of the bus and may also be in the audience during the stage show sequence. She looks like the girl from "A Pleasant Journey" (no. 11).
boy 009a
Extra. He's to the right and in front among the boys that Mickey waves to in the balcony.
other kids
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) The first boy to board the bus.
(2.) At least fifteen or twenty additional kids in the audience during the stage show. Mickey addresses some of the boys in the balcony from the stage, referring to one of them as "Hap." Three additional boys are shown on the upper deck of the bus.

the animals:

monkey 004
Featured role. Presumably the same monkey from "One Terrible Day" (no. 4), he appears throughout the stage sequence.
Supporting role. He appears off and on throughout the film with Jack and Joe.
donkey 013
Small part. He serves as locomotion for the bus. Maltin & Bann misidentified him as Dinah the Mule.
Dinah the Mule
Bit part. She appears during the stage sequence.
pony 001
Bit part. This is the larger of the two ponies, previously seen in "Our Gang" (no. 1), "Young Sherlocks" (no. 3) and "One Terrible Day" (no. 4).
pony 002
Bit part. The smaller of the two ponies, this seems to be the one from "Fire Fighters" (no. 2), or maybe "The Big Show" (no. 7).
other animals
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) A goat seen at the beginning of the film, and probably the same one seen during the stage sequence.
(2.) Three rabbits appear during the magician's act.
(3.) Four geese are shown during the stage sequence.
(4.) At least one chicken in the background of the bus sequence.
(5.) A dog appearing in the background at the beginning of the film and later during the stage sequence. Similar to dog 002, but with different coloring.
Several bugs are shown both in the early and later parts of the film.

the adults:

William Gillespie as the head of the touring show
Featured role. He's virtually the star of the film, particularly during the second half.
Wallace Howe as the manager of the theater
Supporting role. He's seen frequently during the stage sequence, threatening to arrest the vaudevillian if the show doesn't go on.
Richard Daniels
Small part. He tries to slap the fake spider.
Beth Darlington
Bit part. Looks like her to me as part of the vaudeville troupe, but she's not listed by Maltin & Bann.
woman 013
Bit part. The woman with the frizzy hair to the right of the woman with the spider over her head. She later appeared in "Lodge Night" (no. 15) and "Stage Fright" (no. 17).
James W. Cobb
Bit part. He's disturbed by Farina while sitting in a box seat.
Roy Brooks as the traffic cop
Bit part. Maltin & Bann don't list him, but it sure looks like him.
Oscar Larson
Extra. He's sitting just to the left of the woman irritated by the spider. His identify was sleuthed out by Jesse Brisson for Lord Heath's terrific website.
Chris Lynton
Extra. He's seen to the left of a young girl in the audience as they applaud the weight-lifting act.
Dick Gilbert as an outside worker
Extra. He's much easier to pick out than Lloyd.
Charley Lloyd as an outside worker
Extra. According to Maltin & Bann, but I don't see how they were able to identify him. They list him as Charley Young.
Robert F. McGowan
Extra. He's seen briefly getting out of the way of the bus.
Jack Hill
Extra. He's sitting in the third row left aisle seat, and can best be seen in the shots of Lynton and the teenage girl.
other adults
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The cross-eyed custodian of the theater.
(2.) The woman Joe irritates with the fake spider.
(3.) The three men in the show troupe besides Gillespie.
(4.) Jack's dad, who appears briefly.
(5.) Scores of people in the theater audience, many of whom are seen in closeup.

the locations:

vacant lot
I don't know the location, but the vacant lot shown when Ivadell Carter is picked up, and also the previous passenger, is the same one featured in "Olympic Games" (no. 63).
Hercules Motor Oil
This is where the gang goes for a fill-up.


20 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Shooting began on Dec. 15th, the day after initial shooting had ending for "Giants Vs. Yanks" (no. 12), and continued until Jan. 9th, when the 1923 datebook reads 'finishing.' It should be noted that on Dec. 19th, shooting took place for both "Back Stage" and "Giants Vs. Yanks." No shooting took place on Dec. 24th, Dec. 31st, or Jan. 7th, which were all Sundays, nor on Dec. 25th, which was Christmas, or on Jan. 1st, which was New Year's Day. There was also no shooting done on Dec. 23rd, giving the company a three-day weekend. To compensate for this, they worked on Sun., Dec. 17th. Shooting for "Back Stage" was scheduled to continue on Jan. 10th, but retakes for "The Big Show" (no. 7) were started instead.

A datebook belonging to Lassie Lou Ahern (and presumably compiled by her mother) reveals that the footage of the theater audience, which included extra parts for Lassie Lou and her sister Peggy, was shot on Jan. 6th.

The Motion Picture News of Feb. 24, 1923, carried an article entitled "New Series of Our Gang Comedies," with the subheading "Pathe to Release 13 Subjects Following Present Output by Roach." The article reads:
"General manager Elmer Pearson, Pathe, this week is sponsor for the statement that the 'Our Gang' series of two-reel comedies had been signed for release for another year. This means that after all of the present series have been released, thirteen more will be produced to be published one every four weeks.
"Hal Roach, who sponsored the idea of putting kids and animals into two reels of lively fun, and who has completed the first thirteen of the old contract, has just left for the Coast, with the new contract safe in his pocket.
"The popularity of this series of laugh-producers, in which children co-star with domestic animals, has been attested to by exhibitors who have run the first and second series and by the testimonials and lavish praise of the press.
"It had been Hal Roach's idea to make these kid comedies in five reel features, but now that exhibitors are featuring the 'Our Gang' comedies over their feature in....(paragraph seems to be missing a line or two)....Mickey Daniels, the kid with a million freckles, 'Sunshine Sammy,' the colored comic, and his sister Farina, together with the other kids whose faces and antics are now familiar on every screen, will continue to be the leading characters in this new series.
"Bob McGowan, who has been so successful in handling the youngsters, will continue to direct.
"Exploitation accossories will be a twenty-four-sheet on the series; one and three sheet on each comedy; lobby displays; slide and advertising cuts and mats.
"Mr. Pearson is again authority for the statement that next week another important announcement of newly acquired product will be forthcoming from Pathe exchange."

The Motion Picture News of June 2, 1923, carried the following review by E. F. Supple: "This number of the 'Our Gang' series present the 'Gang' in two distinct episodes. In the first part, they are shown as the operators and passengers of a sight-seeing bus - not one of the regulation type, you understand, but fashioned out of a framework of boards, set atop a rickety 'flivver' and propelled by a donkey which is harnessed in some mysterious manner to the interior of the vehicle. The contraption would get a laugh anywhere by itself, but put a bunch of clever kids, bent on fun, aboard such a contrivance and the opportunities for provoking laughter multiply immediately. The workings of the bus are revealed in detail, and the ingenious methods resorted to by the youngsters to operate the vehicle will delight any audience. In the second part, the youngsters are engaged as back-stage assistants by the manager of a vaudeville show who is impressed by their ingenuity. The 'gang' get the instructions mixed at the crucial moments of the show and the effects produced are ludicrous in the extreme. At one point, Little Farina, the colored baby player, walks off with the strong man's 1,000 pound weights while the curtain is still up. The show both front and back-stage ends in a riot when the mischievious spirit of the kids is given full sway. A thoroughly amusing comedy from start to finish."

The Motion Picture News of June 2, 1923, also reported the following: "Pathe has renewed its contract with Hal Roach for additional 'Our Gang' comedies, which will continue to be released at the rate of one every four weeks. The renewal of the contract assures Pathe of a supply of these two-reel kid and animal comedies for this season and next. Pathe officials declare the releases of this series up to date have met with widespread approval from theatres of all classes.
"The composition of the 'Gang' appearing in these comedies, Pathe says, will continue the same in productions made under the renewed contract. Hal Roach's 3-year contract with Mickey 'Freckles' Daniels was announced two weeks ago. 'Sunshine' Sammy, Little Farina, the talented pickaninny, Jackie Condon, Jackie Davis, lady-like Mary Kornman, and the same animal cast can be relied on for an indefinite period, says the statement from the Pathe office."

The Motion Picture News of Sep. 15, 1923, published the following: "The 'Our Gang' number titled 'Back Stage' won a special note of approval from the well-known screen critic of the Chicago Tribune, Mae Tinee. Among other opinions, Miss Tinee wrote the following: '"Back Stage" is just as funny as can be with Hal Roach's youngest at their best...The "act" by the actor and the gang is something fearful and wonderful - and entirely satisfactory to the Chaplinesque audience, if not to the unhappy advertised worker of miracles. See "Back Stage." It's almost, if not quite as good, as "A Pleasant Journey".' "

The datebooks also give information regarding what the weather was like on each of the shooting dates. Most of the dates were described as 'bright.' Specifically, the weather was 'bright & warm' from Dec. 23rd to 27th, and 'fairly bright' on the 29th. The 15th was described as 'dark - showers etc.' the 17th as 'showers & dark,' and the 28th as 'dark - showers.' No description was given for Dec. 31st.

This film was the first of six in the third 'series' of Our Gang films.

38 still images were printed into numerous press photos to promote this film.

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number and shooting dates)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Matthew Lydick (for the correct spelling of Gabe Saenz's last name, and for info regarding the two Mischief Makers shorts)
Jesse Brisson (for pointing out Jack Hill)
James A. Gipson (for correcting the number of geese in this film)

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