The Big Town

film no. 34


availability:

Our Gang Silent Comedies Volume 4 (VHS) from Video Classics and
Our Gang Comedies IV (VHS) from The Picture Palace
This copy is original except for the end title, which is the same as the versions listed below. The print totals 23:31, with 23:26 of it original footage. It appears that almost all of the original film is included. A version of this film has appeared on numerous bootlegs, presumably from this source.

Square Shoulders (1929) and The Big Town (1925) (DVD) from Reelclassicdvd.com
A Festival Of Silent Comedy Volume Five (DVD) from Reelclassicdvd.com
Released 2006.

other releases
A homemade copy was briefly available on eBay. It's a home movie print entitled "New York," which has a generic opening title card, but the original crew credits. The inter-titles are remade, but retain the original wording. The original footage totals about 15:00.


technical details:

Production A-34.

Filmed September 22 to October 2, 1924. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted December 9, 1924, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU20871. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain. Interestingly enough, the film shows the copyright year of 1925.

Released January 11, 1925. It was the 34th film in the series to be released.

Silent two-reeler.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Comedies - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "The Big Town".'

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1040, "The Big Adventure," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17345.


the crew:

Produced by Hal Roach
Credited in the film as a presenter.

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

Photographed by Art Lloyd
This credit appears in the film.

Edited by T. J. Crizer
This credit appears in the film. The 'T' stands for Thomas.

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

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

Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the credits.

studio personnel
possible uncredited involvement


the kids:

Mickey Daniels as "Mickey" aka "Micky Daniels"
Featured role. The postcard from Skinny spells Mickey's name as "Micky Daniels," but the implication might be that Skinny doesn't know the correct spelling. As usual, he's the leader and controls most of the gang's activity.

Allen "Farina" Hoskins as "Farina"
Featured role. He gets quite a lot of footage as the comedy relief in this film, particularly on the train with the insects and the spaghetti.

Joe Cobb as "Joe"
Featured role. He's featured pretty strongly in this short, getting almost as much attention as Mickey and Farina.

Mary Kornman as "Mary"
Supporting role. She's first seen in her scene with Jackie, then reluctantly goes along the gang on their adventure.

Jackie Condon as "Jackie"
Supporting role. Mary calls him "Winfield" while they're playing house, but I think the implication is that this is their father's name. Aside from his scene with Mary, he does mostly ensemble acting.

Eugene "Pineapple" Jackson
Supporting role. He basically does ensemble acting throughout the film.

David Durand
Bit part. He's seen briefly as the child of the woman who lets Mary sleep in their berth with them.

other kids
Small parts. It's my opinion that the gang did not go to New York to make this picture, and therefore are replaced by doubles in all of the New York shots that couldn't have been made in California.


the animals:

dog 034
Supporting role. A different dog than usual in this short. He specializes in raising his ears.

bugwatch
Bit parts. The rest of the animals are made up of the variety of exotic insects that take over the train.


the adults:

Jack Gavin as the police officer who escorts the kids home
Supporting role. He's featured strongly in the second half, but gets more misery from the insects than from the kids.

Pat Kelly as the farmer
Small part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann, but it's clearly him. He blames the kids for the fire that he himself set.

Gus Leonard as "Prof. J. Tillingham Hornett," the entomologist
Small part. He's featured during the train sequence.

Helen Gilmore as one of the train passengers
Small part. She's married to Sammy Brooks.

man 034 as the porter
Small part. He's a black man that later appeared in "Boys Will Be Joys" (no. 42).

woman 016 as Joe's mom
Small part. She's shown at the end of the film, vowing punishment. She appears to be the same woman who played his mom in "Fast Company" (no. 16).

Dorothy Vernon as Mickey's mom
Bit part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She's shown at the end of the film.

Lyle Tayo as Mary and Jackie's mom
Bit part. Maltin & Bann state that she's one of the train passengers, but she appears with the other mothers at the end of the film.

William Gillespie as one of the train passengers
Bit part. He's shown in his berth scratching himself.

other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) Gene and Farina's mother.
(2.) The mother of the younger girl on the train. She lets Mary sleep in the same berth with them.
(3.) Two motorcycle cops, one of whom gets in a sizable part.
(4.) Four additional train passengers from what I can see.
(5.) A waiter and three black busboys on the train.
(6.) The guy on the ferry that sends the kids away.
(7.) The cop that posts the bulletin.
(8.) The railyard worker that gets the kids out of the freight car.
(9.) The cop that walks in front of bus when the kids first get inside.
(10.) Three man and two women arriving at the scene of the fire.
(11.) Several other people in the background in the New York scenes.


the locations:

New York
Shown in the film are Fifth Avenue, the Washington Square arch, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Santa Fe Railroad Station
Shown at the end of the film. The railyard in the early part of the film is presumably near there.

F. L. Craig & Co.
Actually, I'm guessing the first two initials, but a building with this sign is in the background at the train station.

other locations
The New York scenes sometimes show places that look like they could just as easily be shot in California. This is always true when the gang is clearly seen. All shots that are clearly in New York show the gang at a distance, when they could easily be doubled. The building in the background when the gang get on the bus looks similar to the Culver Hotel, which was built during this year, but I think it might be something else. Also, the building that the two motorcycle cops are front of when the gang's bus goes by looks similar to the Adams Hotel in Culver City, but this, too, may very well be something else. Funnily enough, when the cops finally stop the bus, they're back in front of the same building.


miscellaneous:

10 shooting dates went into the making of this film. This doesn't count the footage that was actually shot in New York City, which was probably filmed during the studio closure in August. When the studio re-opened, new footage was shot for "The Mysterious Mystery!" (no. 33), and then after nearly a week, the Our Gang unit began shooting "The Big Town," the 'starting' date for which was Sep. 22nd. Shooting continued until Oct. 2nd, when filming was considered 'finished.' No shooting took place on Sep. 21st and 28th, both of which were Sundays. Roughly two and a half weeks later, filming began for "Circus Fever" (no. 35).

The working title for this film was "In New York," which it retained for home-movie release.

The kids in the film are from Elmira (with Mickey living at 231 Oak St.), which is Hal Roach's hometown in New York State. The telegram from Elmira shown in the film is from C. H. Roach, which is the name of Hal Roach's father, and is dated October 16th.

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


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


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


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