Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Games - 1927

“Olympic Games” (1927) is an “Our Gang” comedy, one of the silent shorts put out by Hal Roach. Any resemblance to the real Olympic Games is…not possible. But the kids show us an inventive sandlot track and field medley of events, along with an unabashed lack of sportsmanship.

The thin thread holding whatever plot there is together rests on the tiny limp shoulders of Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins, who teaches their dog (called Minnie here but you’ll remember him from later episodes as Pete or Petey) how to make a “raspberry” sound to catcall the athletes. They think some other kids are making the rude sound, and spend much of the film beating up passersby to their “arena” under the mistaken impression that these innocent kids are giving them the Bronx cheer, and not Wheezer, who gets away with it.

And what an array of athletes! Oh, the future leaders of America! We have “Our Gang” breakout star Allen “Farina” Hoskins struggling with the shot put, getting it dropped on his foot more than once. We have Joe Cobb, who proves that the current trend toward overweight children in this country had a Hollywood precursor. Joe manfully heaves the shot put, but tends to break the apparatus in other events when he applies his full body weight.

The simple joke that cracked me up was Farina in the pole vault event. As he charges down, at the last minute he tosses his pole aside and merely leaps over the crossbar because it is set so low.

At the end there is an egg fight, which might indeed make an entertaining closing ceremonies.

Their “Games” are supposed to be a parody of the games in “Stockholm”, but I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean. The next Games in 1928 were in Amsterdam. The Stockholm Games had been in 1912. Producer error?

But, this being 1927, I get a kick out of the “witty” sayings (like “this way owt”) written in ink all over the kids’ white shirts, which was a fad of that era.

There is also a spectacular mud pit in the middle of the track that the kids occasionally fall into; so deep they disappear in it. Almost as good as a bottomless pit, in my book. Nobody screams like Guinn “Big Boy” Williams in “Swamp Water”, though.

Well, it is a silent film.


John/24Frames said...

An appropriate and entertaining post. I have not seen this short in many years but it brings back memories and a smile on my face.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks, John. When I watch the shot puters in the Olympics, I always wait for somebody to drop it on his foot, like Farina. Never seems to happen, though. The real Olympians have better luck.

I think I'd drop it on my foot.

R.C. said...

Hi. I've been awarded the Leibster Blog Award; in return, since I love your blog so much, I've awarded it to you. Check out my blog for the rules.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thank you very much, RC.

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