Fast Company

film no. 16


availability:

Our Gang Silent Comedies Volume 7 (VHS) from Video Classics and
Our Gang Comedies VII (VHS) from The Picture Palace
This is a home movie print from Exclusive Movie Studios, Inc., in Chicago, entitled "Speedy Action." It includes the original inter-titles (except for the very first one), but is missing several fragments and the last part of the film. The print totals 13:16, with 13:05 of it original footage. About two-thirds of the original film is included.

Our Gang Volume #3 (VHS) from Grapevine Video and also from The Picture Palace
This is a TV print from the Mischief Makers series entitled "The Big Switch". It's missing a lot of footage, but contains some at the end that's missing from the Video Classics copy. The prints totals 12:28, with 12:10 of it original footage. About two-thirds of the original film is included. This version has appeared on numerous bootlegs.

Our Gang Silent Comedies Volume 8 (VHS) from Video Classics
This is the TV print, included on the copy sent to me in the spot that was supposed to be occupied by "One Terrible Day" (no. 4).

Our Gang Silent Comedies Volume 3 (VHS) from HenryButch
This is the Mischief Makers print.

Jackie Remembers Our Gang - Memories from Little Rascals Family Theater (VHS/DVD)
from Jackie Taylor
A clip is shown on this tape lasting 2:46, with commentary from Jackie Taylor.

Jackie Remembers Our Gang - The Silent Era (VHS/DVD) from Jackie Taylor
A clip is shown on this tape lasting 4:28. It derives from the home movie print, and Jackie Taylor and Johnny Downs provide commentary.


technical details:

Production A-16.

Filmed March 5 to 15, 1923, and June 13 to 21, 1924. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted October 2, 1924, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU20634. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Released November 16, 1924. It was the 32nd film in the series to be released.

Silent two-reeler.

Probable opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "Fast Company".'.

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1052, "The Big Switch," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17357. Footage also went into episode no. 1080, "Play Ball!!" copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP18381, and recopyrighted May 16, 1961, with registration number LP19565.


the crew:

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

Directed by Charles Parrott and Robert F. McGowan
Maltin & Bann credit only McGowan, and the film probably reflects this, but without his middle initial. However, they also explain that McGowan was injured when a camera platform he was standing on collapsed, and that Parrott (better known as Charley Chase) directed the film initially. Parrott, however, had to go to New York on business, and the film was left in the can for at least a year, at which time McGowan proceeded to finish it.

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

studio personnel
possible uncredited involvement


the kids:

Mickey Daniels as "Mickey"
Lead role. He's essentially the center of the story line, and is featured more than any other kid, switching places with the rich boy to see what the inside of a hotel looks like.

Walter Wilkinson as "Little Rondamere"
Featured role. This obscure player from "The Champeen!" (no. 9) is given a rare starring role as the boy who switches places with Mickey. He subsequently joins the gang in their adventures. I'm presuming that his mother's name is on the telegram, making his character's last name "Von Swell."

Allen "Farina" Hoskins as "Farina"
Supporting role. He's featured throughout most of the film to add comic punctuation. His big scene is the one with the hose.

Jack Davis
Supporting role. His last name is "McChicken," and Jackie is his little brother. He appears frequently throughout the short. Jack returned to the Gang after an absence of 10 months to take part in the retakes for this film.

Jackie Condon
Supporting role. His last name is "McChicken," and Jack is his older brother. He mostly does ensemble acting in this film.

Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Supporting role. He mostly does ensemble acting in this one, but gets featured a bit in the early scene with his parents.

Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as "Ernie"
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann give him the "Sunshine Sammy" moniker, but they also state that they haven't seen the film. He's known as "Ernie" in one of the prints that I've seen. Ernie returned to the Gang after an absence of four months to take part in the retakes for this film.

Mary Kornman as "Mary"
Small part. Maltin & Bann don't include her in the cast listing, but she's definitely in the film.

Lassie Lou Ahern
Small part. Maltin & Bann don't list her, but she signs photographs showing her with the gang in this movie. She's the little brown-haired girl running around the hotel with them.

Hal Eugene Roach, Jr.
Bit part. He's the one who turns on the hose to douse Farina. He was 6 years old at this time. Maltin & Bann reveal his presence in the updated version of their book, but only in the text portion. The cast listing hasn't been updated, and all of the kids in it are "presumed" to be in the film.

questionable listings
In the text portion for this film, Maltin & Bann also reveal that 4-year-old Margaret Roach was used. However, since Lassie Lou Ahern signs her name to photos showing the little brown-haired girl in the hotel sequence, I'm assuming that that's not Margaret. Besides, the story goes that both Margaret and her brother, Hal Jr., were featured in the scene shot at the Roach estate.


the animals:

monkey 004
Supporting role. This is a guess, as it might not be the same monkey. He's seen in the extended hotel sequence.

dog 001
Small part. He delivers the milk to Mickey's house.

mule 007
Small part. Previously appeared as "Featherfoot" in "The Big Show" (no. 7).

other animals
Small parts and bit parts.
(1.) The goat seen in Mickey's bedroom, which is presumably the same one pulling his cart. Possibly the same goat from "Giants Vs. Yanks" (no. 12).
(2.) Mickey's dog, who appears in the bedroom. The dog in the hotel lobby appears to be the same, though the implication is that it's a different dog.
(3.) A horse pulling the milk wagon.
(4.) A chicken in Mickey's bedroom.

bugwatch
A fly buzzes around Mickey's face as he tries to sleep.


the adults:

Helen Gilmore as the woman from the Traveler's Aid Society
Small part. Maltin & Bann don't list any adults for this film, but this is clearly her.

woman 016 as Joe's mom
Small part. She does the clobbering.

woman 014 as the woman with the monkey
Small part. I'm guessing this is the same woman from "Dogs Of War!" (no. 14).

Charles A. Bachman as the cop
Bit part. Just a guess, but I think this is who plays the cop.

Charley Young
Bit part. I think this is him falling out of the window.

Lyle Tayo
Bit part. Looks like her anymore, getting a torpedo blown up on her hat.

Del Henderson
Bit part. It sure looks like him, anyway, looking out over the lobby as the chaos ensues.

Charlie Hall as one of the bellboys
Bit part. Just a guess, but that's him carrying Farina out.

other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) The fireworks salesman, who's shown with the man that looks like Del Henderson.
(2.) Mickey's grandfather, who sleeps with him.
(3.) Mary's mother, who trips with Helen Gilmore.
(4.) The woman that tells the cop that the gang climbed up the fire escape.
(5.) An additional desk clerk, who looks familiar, but I can't place the face.
(6.) The black maid, who gets spooked by Ernie. This might be a white man in blackface.
(7.) The woman who faints at the sight of Farina.
(8.) The receptionist at the Traveler's Aid Society. She hands the telegram to Gilmore.
(9.) The painter who kicks the kids out of the Cocoanut Grove room.
(10.) The doorman at the hotel.
(11.) The milkman, who we barely see at all. He works for Gordon's Dairy.
(12.) The train conductor, who we also don't get a good look at. He sits Rondamere on the bench.
(13.) Six bellboys, one of whom I mentioned as possibly being Charlie Hall.
(14.) Two smokers at the end of the film.
(15.) Several people around the train station.
(16.) Dozens of customers at the hotel.


the locations:

The Roach residence
Located in Berkeley Square.

Santa Fe Railroad Station
I'm pretty sure this is where Little Rondamere switches with Mickey.


miscellaneous:

18 days of shooting went into the making of this film. According to Maltin & Bann, director Bob McGowan fell from a camera platform and was not able to start this film. For the first day of shooting, Mar. 5th, the director in the 1923 datebook is listed as 'Parrott.' (In fact, this is the point when the datebooks start listing directors.) No director is listed for the remainder of the first week, but 'Parrott' is listed the following week, and specifically as 'C. Parrott' on Mar. 15th. This, of course, was Charles Parrott, soon to become famous as Charley Chase. It's probable that he directed on all of these March dates. Maltin & Bann continue to explain that Parrott was called away to a meeting in New York, which would explain why the Our Gang unit had a rare Friday off on Mar. 16th. The film was then left unfinished for over a year, as Tom McNamara began work on "Stage Fright" (no. 17) the very next day. It's interesting to note, however, that McGowan's injury may have occurred at a different time (especially if Maltin & Bann's source for this story was purely anecdotal). Filming for "Lodge Night" (no. 15) wrapped the Saturday before the Monday starting date for "Fast Company," a date on which Parrott is already at the helm. The company took their usual Sunday off on the 11th, but the datebook mysteriously includes the following for that date: 'McGowan working - A18 Tia Juana.' Production A-18 was "July Days," which would be McGowan's next directorial effort, but I can't help but think that this was a gag alluding to some vacation time for McGowan.

It isn't clear at all why so much time passed before production on "Fast Company" was resumed, but the studio managed to complete 16 Our Gang films in the interim. The day after filming ended for "Every Man For Himself" (no. 32), June 13, 1924, McGowan began 'retakes' for "Fast Company," and continued these until June 21st. To be specific, though, the words 'retakes' and 'retake' are omitted for the dates June 18th and 21st in the 1924 datebook. No work took place on the 15th or 22nd, which were Sundays. It should be noted, too, that McGowan DID suffer some sort of accident during the filming of "The Sun Down Limited" (no. 31), little over a month before these retakes, which may have led to the Maltin & Bann info. It's also interesting to note that Ernie Morrison and Jack Davis, both of whom were no longer members of Our Gang, were brought back to participate in these retakes, as evidenced by the studio payroll summaries. Another notable point: By this time, the Our Gang unit was routinely taking a break between productions, so shooting for "The Mysterious Mystery!" (no. 33) didn't begin until June 30th.

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

The telegram in the film says January 4th, while the calendar on the wall is January 1924.


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


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


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