The Champeen!

film no. 9

technical details:

Production A-9.

Filmed probably in late August and early September 1922, with some possible retakes later in September. See the 'miscellaneous' section below for details.

Copyrighted December 16, 1922, by Pathé Exchange, Inc. Registration no. LU18518. Since the copyright was not renewed, this film is now in the public domain.

Released January 28, 1923. It was the 7th film in the series to be released.

Silent two-reeler.

Opening title: '"Our Gang" Series - Hal Roach presents His Rascals in "The Champeen!".' The exclamation point is in the film, but not indicated by Maltin & Bann. The poster for the film does not include the exclamation point and switches "Series" with "Comedies."

Released into TV syndication as Mischief Makers episode no. 1013, "Big Fight," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17318. 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
Credited in the film as a presenter.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
This credit probably appears in the film, but without his middle initial.
Assistant Director: Clarence Morehouse
This credit derives from Morehouse's payroll status as the Our Gang assistant director during this period.
Photographed by Len Powers
According to Maltin & Bann. This credit might appear in the film. Powers was listed in the payroll summaries as the Our Gang cameraman during this period.
Titles by H. M. Walker
This credit probably appears in the film.
Props by Charles Oelze and Dick Gilbert
This credit derives from their payroll status as Our Gang prop men during this period.
Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit probably doesn't appear in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Her name first appears in the studio payroll summaries the week ending Sep. 16th, which means that the new school year probably began on the 11th.
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
purchasing superintendent - John L. Murphy
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves and Gene Kornman
possible uncredited involvement
supervision - Charles Parrott (better known as Charley Chase) was still director-general at the studio when this film was made, but had stepped down by the time of its release.
editing - Credit usually went to Thomas J. Crizer during this period.
titles - Tom McNamara probably illustrated the title cards.
writing - Tom McNamara was listed in the payroll summaries as an Our Gang writer during this period. Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer and Leo McCarey may have contributed gags.

the kids:

featured players
Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison as "Sammy"
Lead role. Ernie is crucial to the plot and appears throughout most of the film. Maltin & Bann list his nickname as "Sunshine Sammy," but only the second part is revealed in these prints.
Mickey Daniels as "Mickey"
Featured role. Mickey is also crucial to the plot, and appears in most of the scenes.
Jack Davis as "Tuffy" aka "Jackie"
Featured role. He appears in all of Mickey's scenes, as well as one in which he picks on Jackie Condon. Maltin & Bann list him as Jackie "Tuffy" Davis.
Mary Kornman as "Mary"
Supporting role. She appears as Jackie Condon's big sister, and is shown frequently throughout the film, defending her little brother and being the center of the boys' dispute.
Allen "Farina" Hoskins
Supporting role. His nickname isn't used in the available prints. He appears frequently throughout the film, first as a fighter in Ernie's earlier failed attempt at promoting, and then as security guard at the second fight.
Jackie Condon as "Jackie"
Supporting role. He's shown mainly in the first half of the film, where he's intregal to the plot, being the reason Mary scolds Jack and is disappointed in Mickey for not defending her little brother.
Dorothy Morrison
Small part. She's shown early in the film boxing with Farina, and then sitting next to him during the 'real' fight.

other kids
boy 009a
Small part. He's the boy that flirts with Mary and gets beaten up.
Andy Samuel
Small part. He's Mickey's second trainer and is not shown until the fight starts.
Richard Billings
Small part. He's Jack's trainer.
Gabe Saenz
Small part. He's seen in the opening sequence with Ernie, and is later seen collecting tickets for the fight.
George "Freckles" Warde
Small part. He plays Mickey's trainer. Not to be confused with George "Sonny Boy" Warde.
Walter Wilkinson
Bit part. He's turned away at the door, and is later seen looking through a hole in the roof. He went on to be featured pretty strongly in "Fast Company" (no. 16).
Joe Cobb
Bit part. He appears only in a cutaway shot during the fight scene.
boy 009b
Bit part. He's seen in the audience laughing. He would later appear in "A Pleasant Journey" (no. 11) and "Back Stage" (no. 13).
Elmo Billings
Extra. He's in the scene where Farina and Dorothy are fighting. Later, he's at the far left when Ernie steps out of the door to talk to the boys waiting outside.
boy 007b
Extra. He's in the crowd of boys waiting outside, up front. I'm pretty sure he had appeared in "The Big Show" (no. 7)
boy 007c
Extra. He's in the back of the crowd of boys waiting outside. I'm pretty sure he had appeared in "The Big Show" (no. 7).
other kids
Small parts, bit parts and extras.
(1.) Jack's second trainer, not shown until the fight starts.
(2.) The two girls accompanying Mary to the fight. The one on the left looks similar to the arm-pulling girl in "A Pleasant Journey" (no. 11).
(3.) The boy watching Farina and Dorothy fight.
(4.) The boy in the audience that gets punched by Mickey. I think he might have been in "The Big Show" (no. 7).
(5.) Probably about 15 to 20 additional boys in the fight scene, some of whom look familiar from "The Big Show" (no. 7). A few even get closeups.

questionable listings
Both Johnny Downs and Billy Lord are listed by Maltin & Bann, but I don't see them anywhere in these prints.

the animals:

Supporting role. He's Jackie Condon's dog in this film, and fights Jack's dog.
dog 007
Supporting role. This is Jack Davis's dog. Seems to be the 'Afriken Poler Bear' from "The Big Show" (no. 7).
Dinah the Mule
Bit part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. She appears very briefly during the big fight.

the adults:

Charles Stevenson as the police officer
Supporting role. He catches Ernie stealing apples, and then reappears at the end of the film.
Wallace Howe as the smoker
Bit part. He appears briefly during the chase scene between Ernie and Stevenson.
Sammy Brooks as the green grocer
Bit part. Not listed by Maltin & Bann. He's the very short man who gets the dart thrown into his rear end.
other adults
Small parts and bit parts.
(1.) "Knockout Johnson," who advises Ernie on how to make money. This may very well be a parody of the boxer Jack Johnson, who was appearing in films around this time.
(2.) The fight promoter.
(3.) The sidewalk diner attendant seen during the soda pop scene.
(4.) The two men that help Jackie down from the car in the opening scene. We don't get a good look at their faces.
(5.) Four prisoners and three prison guards seen in Ernie's fantasy scene.

the locations:

Motor Avenue and Woodbine Street, Palms district, Los Angeles
The northeast corner is shown during the soda pop sequence, just as it would be several years later in "Boxing Gloves" (no. 91). The brick building is the People's Water Company, located at 3392 Motor Avenue. It's also shown in the background as Ernie is hiding in the ash can, which is on the southeast corner in front of the Masonic Hall at 3402 Motor.
Motor Avenue
The brick arch where Sammy Brooks works is also in "Fire Fighters" (no. 2), in which it's to the right of a loans and mortgage business. This location was on the west side of the 3300 block of Motor Avenue, even though the street number on the building is 7556.
Palms Chamber of Commerce, Palms district, Los Angeles
This is shown in the scene where the two dogs are fighting, and also where Stevenson catches up with Ernie. It was located on the 3300 block of Motor Avenue, and was later occupied by the Micholithic company. The chamber by that time had moved to the 3400 block.
Palms Lumber Company
Ernie is briefly seen running out of this property while trying to escape the cop. It was located at 10321 National Boulevard.


The 1922 studio datebook reveals the shooting dates for all of the films made during the year - except this one. It's almost certain that production number A-8 (meant for "The Cobbler") was pencilled in on shooting dates for production A-9 ("The Champeen!"). In fact, "The Cobbler" was a basic enough production that it probably wouldn't have required the 26 shooting dates credited to it in the datebook. It's also possible that some of the added scenes and retakes credited to production A-7 ("The Big Show") were actually meant for "The Champeen!" since these overlap so much with the dates for "The Cobbler." See the pages for both of those films for more details. It should also be noted that directors Bob McGowan and Tom McNamara were beginning to be credited separately during this period. Later in the year, production for McNamara's "Boys To Board" (no. 10) overlapped somewhat with McGowan's "A Pleasant Journey" (no. 11), with both films being shot on the same dates. This may have also occurred with McNamara's "The Cobbler" and McGowan's "The Champeen!"

It's also interesting to note that Joe Cobb joined the Gang at the beginning of September, but doesn't seem to have worked in the series for the first week or two, since he was appearing in the Snub Pollard short "A Tough Winter." In "The Champeen!" Joe is shown only in a very brief cutaway shot, which suggests that most of the film was shot before his arrival. His brief appearance was probably filmed as an 'added scene' sometime later than the initial production.

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

The Motion Picture News of Dec. 23, 1922, reported: "'Our Gang' Comedies were announced and issued by Pathe as a series of six pictures. But exhibitor reaction, according to reports, was so prompt that this Hal Roach production unit - including the studio 'zoo' - prepared to continue indefinitely with the successful novelty at the rate of one comedy every four weeks. Accordingly Pathe now announces a second series of six 'Our Gang' Comedies, to be released one every four weeks, beginning with 'The Champeen,' to be issued on January 28.
"Each of the series thus far released is recognized as a box office winner. The Capitol theatre, New York, attests their popularity by selecting 'Saturday Morning' for Christmas week, and Pathe reports that exhibitors in most of the cities and towns of the United States will 'go strong' on 'Our Gang' throughout the holidays in recognition of the children's claim to have their preference considered."

The Motion Picture News of Jan. 27, 1923, reported: "Beginning with 'The Champeen,' announced for release on Jan. 28, the new 'Our Gang' comedies will go to exhibitors accompanied by the exploitation paper and accessories. They will, in fact, be handled like features with a specially designed 24-sheet. Cuts, mats, lobby displays, five black and whites and a stock slide are supplied for 'The Champeen' and forthcoming pictures in the Our Gang second series. 'The Champeen' - presenting the prize ring and its traditions from the 'Our Gang' juvenile angle depicts Sunshine Sammy, as promoter and highly sophisticated manager; Mickey (Freckles) Daniels and Jackie Davis, as the battling Romeos; tousle-headed Jackie Condon, Little 'Farina' and the full strength of 'Our Gang' are active participants."

The Motion Picture News of Feb. 3, 1923, carried the following review by Lillian Gale: "The title is not difficult to recognize, since champions from Sullivan down have been described as 'the champeen,' by fight fans, and this two reeler is principally about how Sunshine Sammy became a promoter and staged a non-professional bout, with two tiny blacks as opponents. The title describes not only the action, but the picture as a whole, for it is the 'champeen' of its kind.
"The usual juvenile cast, including Freckles Daniels, Jackie Davis, Little Farina and the rest, are all present in roles designed to accentuate, particularly their respective abilities.
"Sunshine Sammy gets in trouble 'swiping' apples. When finally caught by a policeman, he is ordered to pay the fruit man one dollar, if Sammy would keep out of jail. He happens into a training quarters, where he learns that the men who make the real money in connection with a fight, are the promoters. Then, he finds Freckles and Jackie about to go to the mat over the affections of a golden-haired little girl, which decides Sammy upon staging a prize fight. Therefore, the professional tricks he picks up with amusing alacrity, keeps the action fast and the comedy at an even tempo. This one will get many a hearty laugh from fight fans, and delight children."

38 still images were printed into numerous press photos to promote this film.

For awhile, an actor named Bill Brokaw was erroneously credited in IMDb and Wikipedia for appearing in this film.

See anything that needs changing? Contact me at

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
John Frank (for information regarding Jack Johnson)
Matthew Lydick (for the correct spelling of Gabe Saenz's last name, and for providing info about the Jef release)

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