With the coming of sound, Hal Roach Studios equipped their stages with sound equipment in early 1929. "Small Talk" probably went before the cameras in March and was released in May, while several previously filmed "Our Gang" silent comedies were still to be issued to theaters.
The story involves Wheezer being adopted by a wealthy woman of society, leaving his sister, Mary Ann, behind at the orphanage. The Gang decide to visit Wheezer, causing their usual brand of chaos and confusion before the happy ending with Pete the Pup singing at the piano.
"Small Talk" is a curio mostly because it is the first "Our Gang" talkie. However, the personalities of the individual members come through, and they give engaging performances. This being an early talkie, the young actors (and the adults, for that matter) have yet to master how to talk naturally on camera; but the kids are so likeable, the stilted dialogue is a minor annoyance.
If you have the Blackhawk video release of this film from 1984, you can see the boom mike stationed above the kitchen table in the opening scenes. Subsequent video releases appear to have been framed differently, and you cannot see the mike. Where to place the microphone in this transitional period was one of the main challenges of the early talkies.
6 out of 10.
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