Released in four versions with a different language spoken by the actors in each one: English, Spanish, French, and German. The new dialogue was not dubbed in; instead, each scene was shot four times, one take for each language. This process was helped with the aid of language tutors, blackboards placed out of camera range with the phonetic dialogue written on them, and the hiring of foreign actors for the incidental roles. This process was also used in the Little Rascals shorts The First Seven Years (1930) and When the Wind Blows (1930). See more »
I've mentioned Stepin Fetchit in several film comments recently, for films that had an offensive black stereotype. These are generally 30s films and the stereotype is of dull, slow, shuffling subservient "boys." I thought I owed it to myself to actually see the man at work.
And its a shock. Those other black actors were successfully playing the stereotype. But not this man, at least not here. This could be an anomaly because it is the only film from the era in which he is billed as himself. Sure he plays a type: someone so lazy he rigs a device to hold his arm when signaling a turn in his cart. Someone who can't read, and who seems stupid, even retarded. But in every motion, he's winking at the audience, he's letting us see the actor's timing, the process of creating the doofus.
The overall effect is the opposite, its of an intelligent, noble, skilled man goofing on us all. Its particularly clear here because he isn't the only incompetent in the frame. All the "Gang" (but one, the pretty rich girl) are as on the periphery of lucid living as his character. There's a story parallel to his, where the kids make taffy and make a huge mess.
He simply walks into the mess in a sort of glee, and use the sticky stuff on the walls to save a hundredth of a motion in removing his gloves.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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