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Back Stage (1923)

 -  Family | Comedy | Short  -  3 June 1923 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 13 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

The gang operates a donkey-propelled tour bus. Later, a cut-rate vaudeville producer hires them to help out with his show, which they wreck.

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Title: Back Stage (1923)

Back Stage (1923) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ivadell Carter ...
Pansy
James W. Cobb ...
Man in box-seat disrupted by Farina
Joe Cobb ...
Joe
Jackie Condon ...
Jackie
...
Mickey
Richard Daniels ...
Man in audience trying to slap spider
Beth Darlington ...
Vaudeville Troupe Member
Jack Davis ...
Jack
Dick Gilbert ...
Outside worker
William Gillespie ...
Head of touring show
Jack Hill ...
Audience extra
Allen 'Farina' Hoskins ...
Wallace Howe ...
Manager of the theater
Robert F. McGowan ...
Startled pedestrian
Ernest Morrison ...
Ernie
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Storyline

The gang operates a donkey-propelled tour bus. Later, a cut-rate vaudeville producer hires them to help out with his show, which they wreck.

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Genres:

Family | Comedy | Short

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Release Date:

3 June 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Entre Bastidores  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
An enjoyable effort by the first crop of Our Gang kids
25 November 2002 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Back Stage, one of the earliest Our Gang comedies, retains much of its charm today not because of the story or the somewhat familiar gags, but because of the naturalness and likability of the talented kids who make up the cast. There's nothing calculated or cutesy about them. For the most part they seem unaware of the camera. Moreover, there's a lot to be said for the scruffy, rough-and-ready look of these early entries in the series: the sets, the props, the clothes -- everything looks a little beat up. The kids themselves aren't so well-scrubbed, and they're not always well-mannered, either. It's a real breath of fresh air compared to the goody two-shoes kids so often found in old movies. For that matter, they're far preferable to the cleaned-up Our Gang kids of the 1940s, when the series was in decline.

The opening sequence is the highlight of the whole show, though it has no bearing on anything that follows. The kids have their own jerry-rigged double-decker bus, drawn by a mule, and the contraption looks like great fun to operate. Then the kids are hired by a two-bit vaudeville manager to assist at a local theater. Once they leave that bus behind, the situation (i.e. the kids mess up a show) is more conventional, and the short loses momentum.

Like so many of the early Our Gang comedies, Back Stage is deftly stolen by Farina, who, though barely past infancy, stands out as a natural comic. He's funny operating the bus-- from under the hood --and he has the best gags at the theater too, as when he ruins the strong man's act by hoisting his 'weights' in full view of the audience.

One unfortunate element of these latter scenes hurts the comic impact, however: there are several animals involved in the theater scenes, including horses, a monkey, and a goat, and at a couple of junctures the animals come in for what looks like some rough handling, especially the magicians' rabbits. We can't enjoy the show (or I can't, anyway) if we're worried that the animals are getting hurt. It's well known that filmmakers in general weren't much concerned about this sort of thing until comparatively recently.

At any rate, and despite some qualms about the animals, Back Stage is a generally enjoyable Our Gang comedy. Still, you'd think that once the crew at the Hal Roach Studio constructed that bus for the kids to operate, they'd have built an entire story around it. Eventually, in 1932, they would create another amazing-looking vehicle for a new crop of Our Gang kids, and the result would be a very enjoyable short called Free Wheeling.


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