Precocious adolescent Skippy Skinner spends most of his time trying to get around doing those things that his parents want him to do (like brush his teeth), while doing those things his parents don't want him to do. Chief among the latter is spending time across the railroad tracks in Shantytown, instead of playing with "clean" neighborhood kids like brother and sister Sidney and Eloise. Skippy's father, Dr. Herbert Skinner, the city's head of the health board, in particular doesn't like Skippy spending time there as Dr. Skinner is a verminophobe, and believes Shantytown is dirty and unhealthy. On Skippy's latest visit to Shantytown when he meets a new friend named Sooky Wayne, he learns that Shantytown is being torn down and its poor residents have to move. And Sooky's mongrel and unlicensed (since Mrs. Wayne can't afford the $3 license fee) dog Penny is captured by the city's dog catcher. As Skippy does whatever he can to raise the $3 to get Penny back for his new friend (which ...Written by
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. However,because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and was not televised until many years afterward. See more »
I didn't expect much from "Skippy." How substantial could a Depression-era movie based on a comic strip be? But I found myself really into this film. I watched it with my kids and we all really enjoyed it.
It's dated for sure, and the precocious antics of the child actors will likely grate on some. But I liked some of the cultural subtleties in this movie that I found parallels for in our current world. Like the hypocrisy found in Skippy's parents, affluent, casually prejudiced people who think poor, underprivileged folk are deserving of medical care (he's a doctor) but not of basic kindness and empathy (when Skippy wants to go to the "other side of the tracks" his mom asks him if he wants to grow up to be like "those" people). Or the tendency of Skippy's parents to underestimate the complexity of a child's world and who dismiss a child's problems because they're deemed less important than those of adults (not to a child, they're not).
Jackie Cooper is the rare child actor, especially from that time period, who's able to be truly winning instead of aggravating. He received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his performance, I believe the youngest actor to ever achieve that feat. The film was also nominated for Outstanding Production and Best Writing (Adaptation), while Norman Taurog won that year's Oscar for Best Director. I've read that he got Jackie Cooper to cry at key moments in the film by threatening to shoot his dog. What a guy.
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