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Mickey's Movies (1928)

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Mickey McGuire (as Mickey McGuire)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Delia Bogard ...
Tomboy Taylor
Junior Johnston ...
Stinky Davis
Kendall McComas ...
Member of Mickey's gang
Jimmy Robinson ...
Hannah Washington ...
Little Chocolate
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Genres:

Comedy | Short

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Release Date:

2 September 1928 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Mickey Rooney (herself) as Mary Pickford!
26 April 2006 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The Mickey McGuire series of comedy shorts were a spin-off from 'The Toonerville Trolley', an extremely popular daily comic panel written and drawn by Fontaine Fox. (There was also 'Toonerville Folks', a Sunday strip version.) Basically, small-town Toonerville was its own little universe, and the gentle humour of the feature dealt with the antics of the various denizens ... such as the Powerful Katrinka and the Skipper (the long-bearded driver of the trolley). One of the most prominent characters was a bowler-hatted Irish-American urchin who bullied the other children, and who -- because of his sense of self-importance -- was always known as Mickey (Himself) McGuire. Fontaine Fox had a bizarre tendency to draw his 'Toonerville' panel from a three-quarter view in midair.

The humour of the Toonerville Trolley (which I never liked) was a bit too rarefied to make a transition to films: Fontaine Fox made a few animated cartoons and live shorts, but they never matched the success of his syndicated drawings. What did succeed was the decision to make Mickey (Himself) McGuire the star of a series of low-budget live-action shorts, getting into adventures with other back-alley kids. A vaudeville comedian named Joe Yule brought his young son Joe Jnr to audition for the role: Joe Jnr got the part, and was promptly renamed Mickey McGuire. Later, when the boy actor and the role parted company, Fontaine Fox would not allow the juvenile to continue performing under that name ... so Joe Yule Jnr changed his name again, to Mickey Rooney!

The Mickey McGuire shorts have a very similar feel to the Hal Roach studio's Our Gang shorts (made during the same time period), and have many of the same flaws ... including racist gags at the expense of the black member of the gang (in Mickey's case, an African-American boy who rejoiced in the name Hambone Johnson). Another of Mickey's sidekicks was boy midget Billy Barty, whose physique (at this early age) is already visibly stunted. In the sound era, the Mickey McGuire shorts began to vary somewhat from the Our Gangs by placing increasing reliance on 'impossible' gags requiring trick photography ... probably not a good decision, since even the original Toonerville comic panels featured semi-realistic situations. The McGuire shorts benefit from the strong presence and talent of the young Mickey Rooney.

"Mickey's Movies" is one of the late silent McGuire shorts. As usual, Mickey makes all the decisions, and the other kids merely go along for the fun. This time round, Mickey has decided that the kids should start their own movie studio ... and he naturally considers himself the most qualified person to take charge of production, because of his contacts in the film industry: namely, his father once met somebody who shook hands with Charlie Chaplin. And not content with being the producer, Mickey naturally believes he should play all the lead roles too.

There's one very bizarre sequence here, when Mickey tries to impress the other kids with his thespian abilities. He rushes offstage, then instantly returns dressed as a little girl, in a short frock and a blonde wig of long sausage curls! Mickey (or Michaela?) simpers back and forth for a few seconds, challenging the other kids to guess who he is now. The answer Mickey expects (as we find out in a later intertitle) is 'Mary Pickford' ... but before we get there, another boy leaps up and replies 'LON CHANEY!'

What makes this gag so bizarre is that Mickey Rooney (8 years old at the time) looks EXACTLY like a girl in this Goldilocks get-up. Also, I can't help wondering how a tough little mug like Mickey McGuire just happens to have a complete set of girls' clothes (and a wig) handy. Maybe Mickey (Himself) McGuire should change his nickname to 'Herself'. I'll rate this short 7 out of 10.


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