It's A Bear

film no. 27


technical details:

Production A-27.

Filmed December 10 to 26, 1923, January 2 to 7, January 12, and March 7 to 12, 1924. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted June 30, 1924, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU20347. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Released July 27, 1924. It was the 28th film in the series to be released.

Silent two-reeler.

Probable opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "It's A Bear".' This is the way it reads on an advertising slide that I've viewed, except that the word 'Comedy' is substituted for 'Comedies'.

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1010, "Animal Hunters," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17315.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Probably credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Mark Goldaine
Maltin & Bann list only McGowan, and the film probably reflects this, but without his middle initial. According to Rob Stone's list, Goldaine directed most of the film, with McGowan directing only on January 7th.
Assistant Directors: Clarence Morehouse, Rob Wagner and Harry La Mar
This credit derives from the status of Our Gang assistant director for Morehouse, which ending the week ending Dec. 15th, Wagner, which began and ended the week ending Dec. 15th, and La Mar, which began the week ending Dec. 29th and ending the week ending Jan. 5th.
Photographed by Frank Young, Blake Wagner and Bob Walters
Not listed by Maltin & Bann. The film credits Young, which is ironic since the payroll summaries don't mention him as an Our Gang cameraman. Wagner is listed beginning the week ending Dec. 22nd, and ending the week ending Jan. 5th. The Walters credit comes from Joseph McBride's Frank Capra - The Catastrophe Of Success. This is also a bit ironic, since the summaries only list him for the week ending Jan. 12th, and for only five of the six working days for that week, which means that he probably only worked on one day of shooting for this film. Nobody is listed for the first week of shooting in December, nor for the March retakes, so perhaps Young and/or Walters fit in there somewhere. It seems likely that Young shot only the retakes, though, since the earlier shooting dates would have conflicted with his work in the Stan Laurel series.
Edited by T. J. Crizer
Not listed by Maltin & Bann. The 'T' stands for Thomas
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit 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. Frank Capra contributed gags to this film, including the milk-by-dog-delivery bit, and the part where Joe shoots the weather cock. Capra's arrival at the studio would have been in time only for the retakes, so Goldaine presumably contributed to the initial version of the story.
Animal trainer: Tony Campanaro
He was Pal's trainer.
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
writing - Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer and Leo McCarey may have also contributed gags.

the kids:

Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Featured role. He's virtually the star of this film, getting the most attention. He practices with his gun, and tries to roll a cigarette, and also has trouble keeping his pants on.
Mickey Daniels as "Mickey"
Featured role. He's the farm boy that invites the gang to see some real wild animals.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Supporting role. He's a "she" in this film. He gets his usual moments of comedy relief, but these are reduced in favor of Joe for this film.
Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as "Ernie"
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann indicate that the nickname was used, but it appears not to be the case. He practices with his bow and arrow, and is the one that lassos the bear.
Mary Kornman as "Mary"
Supporting role. She's present during the gang's visit to the farm, but doesn't get much screen time. Her biggest moment is early in the film when she's flirting with Mickey.
Jackie Condon as "Jackie"
Supporting role. He takes a back seat to most of the other kids, even though he's present through most of the film.
Dick Henchen as "Dick"
Supporting role. This gang member was actually played by a 19 year old midget. He's in virtually every shot with Jackie.

the animals:

Pal
Small part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. He appears early in the film helping Mickey deliver milk. This was his series debut.
skunk 014
Bit part. This skunk appears while Joe is feeling sickly.
Dinah the Mule
Bit part. She pulls Mickey's milk wagon.
dog 003
Bit part. This is the dog that chases after the goat.
horse 014
Bit part. A white horse, perhaps "Duke" from "The Ol' Gray Hoss" (no. 78). This is one of the animals that scares Farina.
other animals
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) The bear that chases the gang at the end of the film.
(2.) Ernie and Farina's dog, which appears to be a dachshund mix.
(3.) The dog that fights with the turkey.
(4.) The goat that Farina runs from.
(5.) The cow that spooks Farina.
(6.) The hog that Joe lassos.
(7.) The turkey that fights with the dog.
(8.) A large goose lassoed by Joe.
(9.) The rooster that Joe tries to lasso.
(10.) Two rabbits that the gang goes after.
(11.) Four piglets, first shown with the mother hog, then being lassoed.
(12.) Various chickens throughout the farmyard scenes.

the adults:

Noah Young as the farmer
Supporting role. He provides Joe with nicotine inspiration. I'm assuming he's the farmer, but Maltin & Bann list him as the sheriff. I don't see any sheriff character in this print.
Helen Gilmore as the farmer's wife
Small part. She appears briefly talking to Mickey.
Madge Hunt
Bit part. She's the woman receiving milk from Pal.
other adults
Supporting roles, small parts and bit parts.
(1.) The farmhand, who's the victim of the gang's shenanigans.
(2.) The person dressed in the bear costume for certain shots. In other shots, they use a real bear.
(3.) The blacksmith hammering the anvil.

the locations:

Hal Roach Ranch
The bulk of this film was shot at the ranch. The barn shown in this footage was still around during the talkie era, and can be seen in the background of many shorts from that period. The eucalyptus-lined access road leading to the ranch was also used extensively in this short. This was located roughly where David Avenue is nowadays, just west of Robertson Boulevard.
Master Mfg. Co.
By 1927, this company had moved into 3316 Motor Avenue, though they might not have done so by the time this film was made. The backyard of this property is where Joe takes target practice at the start of the film. The target is situated at an opening in the fence on the north side of the property. The brick building on the other side of the fence is the Palms Garage at 3304 Motor.
National Boulevard, Palms district, Los Angeles
Mickey drives his wagon south on this street. The house at the corner of National and Vinton can be seen in the background. He makes a right turn into the alley situated between Motor and Vinton and parks next to the garage that goes with this house. We also get a view of the alley looking south.
the back porch
This is same one seen in "Ask Grandma" (no. 38).

miscellaneous:

24 shooting dates went into the making of this film. Directly after the 'finish' date for "Commencement Day" (no. 26) 'prep' work began on "It's A Bear" on Dec. 5th. In the datebook, the production number was written over the one for "Commencement Day," suggesting that perhaps some changes had been made in the scheduling. The following day involved retakes for "Commencement Day." Dec. 7th was a 'writing' day for "It's A Bear," with the 8th and 9th being two more 'prep' days. The next day, Dec. 10th, began the principle photography for the short, which continued until Dec. 22nd, with a break in the schedule on Dec. 19th while retakes for "Seein' Things" (no. 25) were shot. The Our Gang unit had not had a day off throughout this time, with Sunday the 9th being devoted to prep work and Sunday the 16th being a shooting date. This provided the studio with the opportunity to have a three day weekend for Christmas. Work on "It's A Bear" resumed on Dec. 26th, but the datebook is blank for the remainder of the year, as well as New Year's Day, suggesting that the studio was closed for a week. Work then resumed again on "It's A Bear" on Jan. 2nd and continued until the 5th. Mark Goldaine had directed on each shooting date so far, but left the Roach studio after this date. No shooting took place on the 6th, which was a Sunday. Robert McGowan then divided his work between three films, "It's A Bear," "Commmencement Day" and "Seein' Things," on Jan. 7th, before spending the next few days shooting additional footage for "Commencement Day." He then returned to "It's A Bear" on Jan. 12th. The Our Gang unit then had two weeks off before McGowan directed the last day of shooting for "Commencement Day" and proceeded to shoot "Cradle Robbers" (no. 28) and most of "Jubilo, Jr." (no. 29). Retakes resumed on "It's A Bear" from Mar. 7th to 12th, with activity divided between that film and the final shooting of "Jubilo, Jr." on the 8th. No shooting took place on the 9th, which was a Sunday. The Our Gang unit then had about a week and a half off before starting work on "High Society" (no. 30).

Since Frank Capra didn't work for Roach until February, we can assume that the March dates involved the shooting of the milk-by-dog-delivery bit, and the part where Joe shoots the weather cock.

The 1923 and 1924 studio datebooks give information regarding what the weather was like on the various shooting dates. Most of the December dates were described as 'clear,' with the exception of the 8th, on which there was 'high wind,' the 9th, on which the weather was described as 'clear - high wind,' the 18th, on which the weather was 'hazy,' and the 12th, 13th, 17th and 26th, on which the weather was 'cloudy.' No description was given for the days off. The weather on every one of the January dates was described as 'clear,' though no description was given for the Sunday off. For the March dates, the weather was 'clear' on the 7th, 8th and 12th, while the 10th was described as 'foggy AM.' No description was given for the 9th and 11th.

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

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


availability:

Our Gang . . . "Si Sic Omnes" (VHS) from Video Yesteryear
Released 1987. This copy is virtually complete, but with remade opening, ending and text titles, although the wording on the latter appears to be original. The title card with the crew credits is original. There is a small amount of footage not seen in the Reelclassicdvd verison. The print totals 28:25, with about 25:00 of it original footage, projected at a slower speed.
The Our Gang Collection - Volume 3 (DVD) from Reelclassicdvd.com
Released July 2007. This version has a refashioned opening title deriving from "Derby Day" (no. 21). The inter-titles are not original, but seem to have the original wording. There are a few seconds of footage not seen in the Video Yesteryear version. The image freezes before the end of the film has arrived, and is then followed by an end title. The footage totals 18:34, with about 16:21 of it original.
Our Gang Silent Comedies Vol. 9 (VHS) from HenryButch
This copy derives from the Video Yesteryear version.
SlapHappy: Vol. 7 (DVD) from Fishigan Films
Released 2003. Originally produced in 2001. Includes a clip from this film. This volume is also included as part of The SlapHappy Collection (11 DVD set).

© 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)
Bob Satterfield & Richard Bann (for identifying the location of the ranch)
Mark Brumfield


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