The Big Town

film no. 34

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. Footage also went into episode no. 1060, "The Brave Chimp," copyrighted Sep. 1, 1960, with registration number LP17364. The remainder of this latter episode was made up of footage from "Four Times Foiled," a short from 1920 featuring Snooky the Human Zee.

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.
Assistant Director: Lloyd French
This credit derives from French's payroll status as the Our Gang assistant director during this period.
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.
Props by Charles Oelze and Don Sandstrom
This credit derives from their payroll status as Our Gang prop men during this period.
Story by Hal E. Roach
This credit doesn't appear in the film. Edward Sullivan is listed in the studio payroll summaries as an Our Gang gag man during this period.
Teacher: Fern Carter
Released by Pathé Exchange, Inc.
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the credits.
studio personnel
general manager - Warren Doane
assistant general manager - L. A. French
secretary-treasurer - C. H. Roach
construction supervisor - C. E. Christensen
laboratory superintendent - Charles Levin
publicity director - Garrett Graham
purchasing agent - Clyde Hopkins
still photographer - Bud "Stax" Graves
transportation director - Bob Davis
possible uncredited involvement
writing - Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer and James Parrott may have contributed gags.
animal training - Tony Campanaro may have been among the animal trainers.

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.
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. 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.
Hayes Robertson as the porter
Small part. He's a black man that later appeared in "Boys Will Be Joys" (no. 42).
Charles A. Millsfield as one of the train passengers
Small part. He's the guy with the beard.
Sammy Brooks as one of the train passengers
Small part. He's the short man who comes off the bunk to land on his wife.
Jack O'Brien as one of the motorcycle cops
Small part. He's the one who gets onto the bus to stop it and then leads the kids away.
Patsy O'Byrne as David's mother
Small part. She shares her berth with Mary and David.
Anna Magruder as Joe's mom
Small part. She's shown at the end of the film, vowing punishment.
Harry Rattenberry as one of the train passengers
Small part. He's sitting with Millsfield.
Dorothy Vernon as Mickey's mom
Bit part. 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.
Elizabeth Mackey as Gene and Farina's mom
Bit part. She's shown at the end of the film.
William Gillespie as one of the train passengers
Bit part. He's shown in his berth scratching himself.
Ed Porter as the waiter
Bit part. This is mostly a guess, since we don't get a good look at him. The payroll ledger reveals that he's on the train, and this role is the only one left for him to fill.
Kid Herman, Arthur Collins and Harold Farley as the busboys
Bit parts. All three of these men were black, so I'm pretty confident about crediting them as the three busboys.
Clarence Morehouse as one of the train passengers
Extra. He sits next to Gillespie on the right side in the back seat.
Joy Winthrop as one of the train passengers
Extra. The ledger reveals that she's in the train sequence, and I'm guessing that she's the woman sitting in the back seat on the left.
other adults
Bit parts and extras.
(1.) A second motorcycle cop.
(2.) The guy on the ferry that sends the kids away.
(3.) The cop that posts the bulletin.
(4.) The railyard worker that gets the kids out of the freight car.
(5.) The cop that walks in front of bus when the kids first get inside.
(6.) Three men and two women arriving at the scene of the fire.
(7.) At least half a dozen people in the background as the kids leave the boatyard.
(8.) Several other people in the background in the New York scenes.
(9.) One or two people crossing the bridge in the background as the door to the freight car closes, as well as some motorists and the engineer of the train that bumps into the freight car.

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 in 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.


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.

The 1924 studio datebook reveals what the weather was like on the various shooting dates. On half the dates, it was described as 'clear.' On Sep. 22nd, the weather was 'cloudy,', while on the 23rd and 24th, it was described as 'cloudy AM bright PM,' and on the 25th, it was described as 'cloudy AM clear PM.' On the 30th, it was described as 'bright.' No description was given for the days off.

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

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© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Rob Stone (for providing the production number and shooting dates)
Jesse Brisson (for verifying that Arthur Collins was indeed a black man)
Joe Moore (for providing the copyright information)
Matthew Lydick (for info about the Mischief Makers episode "The Brave Chimp")

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