Commencement Day

film no. 26


technical details:

Production A-26.

Filmed November 9 to December 6, 1923, January 7 to 11, 1924, and January 26, 1924. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Released May 4, 1924. It was the 25th film in the series to be released.

Copyrighted May 12, 1924, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU20193. 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 "Commencement Day".'

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1029, "Little Red Schoolhouse," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17334.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Probably credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Mark Goldaine
This credit probably appears in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial. According to Rob Stone's list, Goldaine was the sole director. Goldaine was listed as "Mark Haldane" in the 1977 edition of Maltin & Bann's book.
Assistant Director: Clarence Morehouse
This credit derives from Morehouse's payroll status as the Our Gang assistant director until the week ending Dec. 15th.
Photographed by Harry W. Gerstad and Bob Walters
This credit derives from the weekly studio payroll summaries, which indicate that Gerstad was the regular Our Gang cameraman during the initial shooting. Walters is listed for the earlier January retakes.
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit probably appears in the film.
Props by Charles Oelze and Don Sandstrom
This credit derives from their payroll status as Our Gang prop men during this period. Sandstrom's name was removed from the payroll summaries after the week ending Jan. 5th.
Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit probably doesn't appear in the film. Mark Goldaine was listed in the payroll summaries as an Our Gang writer during this period.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
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
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
possible uncredited involvement
editing - Credit usually went to Thomas J. Crizer during this period.
writing - Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer and Leo McCarey may have been among the gag writers.

the kids:

Mickey Daniels as "Mickey"
Lead role. He's basically the lead character, beating up the bully, and performing violin in front of the class.
Mary Kornman as "Mary"
Featured role. She's picked on by the bully, which leads to Mickey defending her. She's humiliated in front of the class when she can't remember the words to "Mary Had A Little Lamb."
Gabe Saenz as "Snoozer"
Featured role. He's the bully, and picks on anybody that happens to be nearby.
Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Supporting role. He's the victim of a practical joke out in the yard, then plays his saxophone in front of the class.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins as "Farina"
Supporting role. He falls in the well, which brings all the parents outside to his rescue.
Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann indicate that the nickname was used. He operates the merry-go-round in exchange for some lunches.
Jackie Condon
Supporting role. He plays a few practical jokes during the course of this film.
Dorothy Hughes
Supporting role. She's the first kid picked on by the bully, at least in this print, and is with Mary in the scene leading to the big fight.
Donald Hughes
Small part. He's the studious boy in Harold Lloyd glasses. Listed by Maltin & Bann as Billy Lord.
Andy Samuel
Small part. He's basically a background kid in this film, without anything too specific to do. He's one of the three boys that take a ride on Ernie's merry-go-round.
girl 021
Bit part. The fat girl from "Derby Day" (no. 21).
boy 021
Bit part. At least I think it's him. He's sits in one of the back row seats in the classroom, and is also seen during the fight.
Peggy Ahern
Extra. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She's seen sitting behind Snoozer in the classroom.
Jannie "Mango" Hoskins
Presumed bit part. According to Maltin & Bann. She doesn't appear in the TV print.
other kids
Bit parts and extras. In addition to the kids already mentioned, there are about 10 kids in this film.

the animals:

Bill the Bulldog
Small part. This was the last appearance of this original Our Gang dog, until he returned for one last time in "The Sun Down Limited" (no. 31).
Dinah the Mule
Small part. She provides locomotion for the laundry line turned merry-go-round.
mule 026
Bit part. This is the white mule that pokes its head in the window during the sneezing scene.
other animals
Supporting roles, small parts and bit parts.
(1.) Mary's goat, which Snoozer has to kiss after Mickey beats him up.
(2.) Mickey's toad, which is stuck in the back of his shirt until it ends up at the end of his violin bow.
(3.) The dog that licks the pepper off of the sucker.

the adults:

George B. French as the teacher
Supporting role. Featured fairly strongly in this film.
Dorothy Vernon as Mickey's mom
Small part. She's the woman who gets a look of pride on her face as Mickey gets up to perform.
Gus Leonard as the man with the earhorn
Small part. The frog ends up in his earhorn.
Charley Lloyd as one of the parents
Bit part. He's the man sitting next to Vernon. Not listed by Maltin & Bann.
Lyle Tayo as Mary's mom
Bit part. She sends Mary off to school, but we don't get a good look in this print.
Lillian Lawrence as one of the parents
Bit part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She sits to the right of Young.
Helen Gilmore as Joe's mom
Presumed bit part. According to Maltin & Bann. She doesn't appear in the TV print, but may be in an earlier scene as Joe is leaving for school.
other adults
Bit parts and extras. One additional man and one additional woman play parents at the commencement ceremony. There's also a black maid at the school.

the music (sort of):

"Humoresque" Op. 101 No. 7 by Antonin Dvorak
Written in 1894. Mickey plays this on his violin.

miscellaneous:

26 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Nov. 8th was a 'prep' day, directly following the last day of principle shooting for "Seein' Things" (no. 25). Principle shooting for "Commencement Day" started on Nov. 9th and continued until the December 4th 'finish.' No shooting took place on Nov. 11th, Nov. 18th, Nov. 25th or Dec. 2nd, which were all Sundays, nor on Nov. 29th, 30th or Dec. 1st, when the studio was closed over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Prep work began on "It's A Bear" (no. 27) on Dec. 5th, with the production number written over the one for "Commencement Day," suggesting that perhaps work was planned for that film. In fact, retakes for "Commencement Day" took place the next day, on Dec. 6th. The rest of the December activity was largely centered around "It's A Bear," until director Mark Goldaine departed from the Roach studio on Jan. 5th. He had, up to this time, directed on every shooting date for "Commencement Day." On Jan. 7th, Robert McGowan divided his energies between directing both of these films, as well as "Seein' Things." He then worked on "Commencement Day from Jan. 8th to 11th before spending one more day on "It's A Bear." After this, the Our Gang unit took two weeks off before McGowan spent one last Saturday, Jan. 26th, filming "Commencement Day." The following Monday, he began filming "Cradle Robbers" (no. 28).

The 1923 and 1924 studio datebooks give information regarding what the weather was like on the various shooting dates. In almost every instance, it was described as 'clear.' However, on Nov. 20th, it was 'cloudy,' and on Jan. 26th, it was 'hazy.' No description was given for the off days, with the exception of Nov. 11th, 18th, and 25th.

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

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

The map on the schoolroom wall reads 'prize winning map won by James Morton, class: 22.'


availability:

Our Gang Silent Comedies Volume 3 (VHS) from Video Classics and
Our Gang Comedies III (VHS) from The Picture Palace
This copy is a TV print from the Mischief Makers series entitled "Little Red Schoolhouse." The print totals 12:23, with 12:09 of it original footage. Roughly two-thirds of the original film is included.
DVD-R Sampler (DVD-R) from Grapevine Video
Released 2002. This is also the TV print, but with a new opening title card, and one in the middle of the film, by Grapevine. This disc was later renamed Collection #1 - Eight Rare Short Subjects.
Rascals Silents Vol. 4 (VHS/DVD) from A-1 Video
This is a home movie print from Exclusive Movie Studios entitled "A Country School Yard." The inter-titles are original, but the picture quality is fairly poor and only the middle section of the film is included. The footage totals 3:16, with 3:13 of it original.

special note
I've been able to view most of this film on home movie prints, which retain the original inter-titles.

© Robert Demoss.


My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number, and story and shooting dates, as well as a more accurate directorial credit)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Drina Mohacsi (for providing a positive ID for Donald Hughes)
Matthew Lydick (for the correct spelling of Gabe Saenz's last name)


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