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The Pickaninny (1921)

6.8
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Title: The Pickaninny (1921)

The Pickaninny (1921) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview:
Ernest Morrison ...
Little Casino (as Sunshine Sammy)
Joseph White ...
The Camper
Ethel Broadhurst ...
The Camper's Wife
George Rowe ...
Officer Snoopey
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Genres:

Short | Comedy

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Release Date:

4 December 1921 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
early comic vehicle for Sunshine Sammy Morrison
5 April 2006 | by (south Texas USA) – See all my reviews

Despite the politically incorrect title, this short (clocking in at about 22 minutes) is a nice comedy vehicle for legendary Black film comedian Sunshine Sammy Morrison, probably best known today for his run as a member of the before-the-Bowery Boys "East Side Kids" at Monogram in the early 40's. If the birth year given on the IMDb for Morrison is correct, he's only 9 in this film, and he already has a great comic presence. He's initially working in a store, then is attracted to a young black girl who comes in the store, then splits to the woods where he helps a greenhorn camper go fishing, then a guy in a bear suit AND a real bear tear things up, then Sammy eventually finds his way back to the store, hides in the stove, and is carried off by his dad. Sammy's character is a clever, inventive boy who is depicted as both smarter and stronger than the white kids taunting him in the first scene, and there's not really any demeaning "racial" humor. This may predate his membership in Hal Roach's OUR GANG shorts. Director is James "Paul" Parrott. Interestingly, the camper plays his role in the Paul Parrott fashion, and the policeman played by George Rowe even LOOKS like Paul Parrott--in fact, I looked up Rowe's credits just to prove to myself that there WAS such an actor, and it wasn't just a pseudonym for Parrott. Sunshine Sammy Morrison was a true film pioneer, one of the first Black stars and certainly the first Black CHILD star, and there's little that's demeaning or cringe-producing the way there is in, say, some performances by Stepin Fechit or Fred "Snowflake" Toones, as brilliant comedians as those men were. Roach comedies generally play well even today, and this one is no exception. Strangely enough, while the young girl in whom Sammy is interested is played by a Black girl, I think that the two Black women who come into the store and the actor who plays Sammy's dad may be Caucasians in black-face--it's difficult to tell with the picture quality, but I think so...in case you're interested. I'll see if I can dig up some more early 20's Morrison shorts from my collection...at age 9, he can carry a film by himself, quite an achievement!


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