Some fine acting, by adults and children alike enliven this screen version of Booth Tarkington's novel in his Penrod series about ordinary kids living ordinary lives. The humor is nicely done and low-key, in the style of Roach's OUR GANG series and features some excellent comedy performances by such adult actors as Johnny Arthur and the great Zasu Pitts and, interestingly, the director's daughter as Penrod's older sister, Marjorie -- the serial numbers were rubbed off a couple of decades later for a couple of Doris Day movies, BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON and ON MOONLIGHT BAY.
The time of the story is advanced from the 19th century milieu of the stories to a contemporary setting. It might be interesting to see a version of the stories set in the era they were intended to represent, but the people involve have a certain timelessness about them.
Of more interest is the director, William Beaudine, whose career would go from directing Mary Pickford in the 1920s, to slide in the 1930s, until he wound up directing Bowery Boys features and ended his career in the 1960s directing such films as JESSE JAMES VERSUS DRACULA'S DAUGHTER. Like Alan Dwan, he was one of the leading silent film directors who kept their heads down in the sound era and worked forever. Here, equipped with a decent budget, script and actors, he turns out a fine little movie. It is on the tame side for modern tastes, but it has its charms. Give it a try.
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