Who Killed Doc Robbin? (1948) Poster

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OK, But the Elements Never Quite Come Together
Snow Leopard23 January 2006
This comic mystery was one of at least a couple of late 1940s efforts by Hal Roach to recapture the atmosphere and success of the "Our Gang" comedies of the past. It had most of the elements, but it never really comes together, and it does not come close to the original.

The setup has a gang of children, resembling the original group in a number of respects, getting involved in a murder mystery. Almost the entire movie takes place either in the courtroom or in the abandoned laboratory of an unstable doctor. These settings, and a far-fetched but interesting story idea involving atomic power, provide enough material for what could have been a good movie.

Though a couple of them show some talent, the child actors are clearly a cut below the members of the original gang, and they never work together with the same camaraderie or chemistry. It could simply be the case that by trying to put them too overtly into the same mold, they did not get the chance to be themselves. Except for George Zucco and, to a lesser extent, Virginia Grey, the adult actors are mostly just adequate as well.

On the plus side, the settings work most of the time. On the minus side, it has a surprising number of dated details and/or stereotypes that you cannot help noticing.

A fair amount of the action does work all right as light entertainment. It's the kind of format and plot setup that sometimes produces some very good movies when they are in the hands of a top-quality cast and crew. In this case, the results are at least watchable most of the time, and are occasionally enjoyable, but not enough so to make it of any general interest.
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6/10
Has some value
Larry Gardner28 April 2005
I was utterly fascinated by this flick when I was a kid, probably in 1949 when I was 6 years old. I waited all my life to see it again and just happen to find a CD of it for one dollar at Wal-Mart. Well, let's be honest here, it's not all that great. If I were a film maker I would do a remake. A gorilla chasing kids in dark hall ways is pretty scary stuff. The one scene that stayed in my little mind, all these long years, was where all the kids were standing on the stairway holding candles. Of course that was what was used in the trailer. And as I remember the quality of the film was far, far greater than the CD that one can buy.
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"Curly to the Rescue!"
rg mccreary (bwanabe)20 February 2006
I first saw this Hal Roach classic in '76, on local TV, one-half of an after-school double-feature. I don't recall the other movie but it was another "Curly." Enough to say I've been hooked ever since. And when I discovered a DVD copy in the dollar bin at Wal-Mart, I scooped it right up, giddy with serendipity.

Someone has murdered the reclusive Doc Robbin, a late night explosion destroying his laboratory. Dan, the local Mister Fix-it, is arrested and Curly and his gang set out to prove the elderly pensioner's innocence.

The cast is very excellent for the level of talent demanded: The little "gang-sters" are superb (little Ardda will steal your heart); the very lovely Virginia Grey plays the damsel in miss-tress, and George Zucco plays the heavy.

Think of "Our Gang" with candles in a haunted house, add color, and you pretty much have it.

My regrets to those who find overt racism in everything they see. i myself saw nary an example, overt or otherwise.
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8/10
Wow..Racist?
artpf23 September 2013
I had to see this film after reading a review here by some goof ball who went on and on about Hal Roach being racist! Firstly, Hal Roach stuck black kids in his films as friends and equals to white kids, beginning with the silent days! Were some of the scenes stereotypes? Yes, but back then everyone got a good does of stereotyping -- Italians, Jews, immigrants, blacks -- everyone got their fair share and no one seemed to mind, so which era was better? Aren't we tired of people just seeing everything by race and inserting there agenda into the mix? This is a curio piece from long ago. It's actually a cute little puff piece. The other reviewer said something about two black characters being named Did & Dat, but neglected to say that there was also a white character named Fixit. Jeeze. Get off the high horse. It's a movie.

Anyway the film is funny and keeps moving and tries to some extent to be a throw back to the Our Gang series that Roach was so successful at only by 1948, it wasn't gonna happen. Plus Roach Studios were already waning and soon would get into TV production, virtually abandoning theatrical films.

But watch it for what it is -- fun for the who family and a curio.
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A1 scary flick for youngsters
zeke-1311 May 1999
A really scary movie involving people and a gorilla popping in and out of secret passages, booby-trapped chairs, in an old haunted house. As a young child this was terrifying to me. Now, adults might consider this camp.
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5/10
"But then, on the other hand..."
Ray Faiola5 April 2006
Okay, aside from the "I'm shocked...shocked to find a 1940's film featuring stereotypical characters!", here are a couple of notes for Roach fans who might not have stumbled across this picture.

First, it seems that all the money went into the Cinecolor process. The film has one of the dreariest casts of any 40's B programmer. George Zucco, Grant Mitchell and Virginia Grey are the only name actors in the picture. Whitford Kane, who plays Fix-it Dan, had a wonderful role the prior year in Fox's THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (as the publisher of Mrs. Muir's sea novel). The prosecutor is Wilton Graff, never a particularly humorous actor. The rest of the cast is non-entities and the kids act more like they came out of the MGM-George Sidney unit than a Hal Roach comedy.

Also curious is the musical score. The immensely talented Heinz Roemheld is credited as musical director. However, rather than creating one of his own wonderful works (including those fabulous chase cues with pizzicato violins as in FULLER BRUSH MAN or JACK AND THE BEANSTALK), he basically adapted music from TOPPER TAKES A TRIP and TOPPER RETURNS. These were terrific scores, and the TOPPER RETURNS material is particularly appropriate for this film. Of course, there is some original Roemheld music but it's basically a patchwork score.

The script is fair, the gags are contrived and not particularly funny, but the scenes with the Gorilla are genuinely scary.

As for Dis and Dat, I always winced at the moment in Africa SCREAMS where native Bill Walker turned white at the sight of the big Ape. Now I discover it was done the previous year in WHO KILLED DOC ROBIN! Fun for 48 minutes but don't mortgage the house buying a copy or print.

I don't know if there are any original 35mm Cinecolor prints out there. Most of the prints extant (including mine) are 16mm Thunderbird reduction prints. Cinecolor was a dubious process to begin with and anything other than first generation prints are usually pretty dingy.
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5/10
Favorite Children's' Movie When Growing Up
rosemckillip18 July 2010
This movie has camp galore. As a child, I had no idea of the stereotypes that were used. I had no connection to the gorilla taking the black kid's clothes. None of it dawned on me that it was something racist. I loved this movie, because even as a child, the movie was awful and I loved it that it was awesomely bad. The terrible film grade, the horrible acting, the atrocious haircuts, the poor grammatical decisions, the ridiculous story line, the inane alibis, the stupor-inducing firing-chamber hunt...It made me laugh. It was 1948 when it was made, for crying out loud. Get over it that it was racist; so was America at that time, like it or not. Move forward. Enjoy it for what it is: a campy, corny kids' movie that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
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5/10
"Hey, ain't that the guy you murdered Professor?"
classicsoncall25 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
You can make out the Hal Roach/Our Gang connection in the casting of the movie, but by this time, the magic was gone, and the youngsters appearing here were used more for visuals and sight gags rather than genuine chemistry among friends. The story finds the kids attempting to prove their friend, the neighborhood Fix-It Man (Whitford Kane), innocent of a murder, and most of the action takes place in the second half at a creepy old mansion with it's share of dark passageways and ghostly effects. Since you never get to see the title character Doc Robbin till the very end, you begin to wonder just what connection George Zucco might have had to the picture until he's finally revealed under the gorilla suit. Unlike many films of the era utilizing a gorilla gimmick where the ape looks entirely fake, this one has some genuinely scary moments for young viewers where it's hard to tell the difference; I think I'd run too.

As for the kids, they're a little hard to warm up to, with Ardda (Ardda Lynwood) the single genuinely likable character, especially with her courtroom testimony. Speck's (Dale Belding) gimmick of fainting a lot gets to be over used, and even though one of the film's alternate titles cites 'Curley and His Gang', I didn't see much that suggested Curley (Larry Olsen) as the nominal leader of the kids. Others on this board have mentioned the stereotyping of the little black boys, Dis and Dat, but when you come right down to it, they wound up with the funniest bits, especially the scene involving the washer and clothes press machine. It seems to me that if racism was the main point of the film, you wouldn't have the kids all getting along as equals and having a fun time together during their misadventures.

However if you want the real thing in an Our Gang comedy, you'll have to go back to some of the shorts made during their heyday in the early 1930's. Think what you'd have had here with Spanky at the helm, and Darla, Alfalfa and Stymie along for the ride - the gorilla wouldn't have been safe!
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5/10
Not for sensitive black folks.
jimbarry194616 March 2018
Before I get to the plot, let me start with this--Roach did a much better job with race in the original Our Gang movies. He had black kids in this, but just as props. One gets so scared he turns white. In another case a chimp dons the boy's clothes and is mistaken for the kid. Maybe typical for the time, but...

The black boys are no "dumber" than one of the white kids, nor less "brave" than he. Specks squeals higher and louder than the girls.

The plot of the movie is pretty far fetched as far as the murder. The kids are cute. Watchable because of that.
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1/10
Two Trite Comedies for the Price of One
Richard Chatten25 June 2017
The only original thing about this awful film was Hal Roach's decision to embark on an all-color production schedule during 1947-48, of which this represented the final death twitch before he abandoned film production for good and moved successfully into TV during the fifties.

Feeling much longer than its mere 55 minute running time, it's basically two seen-it-all-before half-hour comedies one after the other; the first an unfunny courtroom sequence with the kids endlessly disrupting the proceedings, and the second half the kids crashing about a big spooky house at night like one of the less cerebral 'Scooby Doo' episodes, to the accompaniment of a noisy, over-emphatic score cobbled together from earlier Roach production, and concluding with a 'surprise' revelation at the end about whose eyes it was peering through the portrait in the hall.

It's all far less interesting than it sounds. The presence of Virginia Grey and George Zucco in the cast raises expectations, but both of them are wasted; while Grant Mitchell in his final screen appearance plays that hoary old cliché, an avuncular old judge straining to keep control while personally finding the chaotic proceedings hilarious. He certainly finds things far funnier than we do.
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1/10
Terrible kiddie crime caper.
DigitalRevenantX724 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
As the trial for the murder of Hugo "Doc" Robbin, who was supposedly killed in an explosion, gets underway with his secretary Ann Loring being charged with the crime, a group of children burst into the courtroom claiming to have critical information for the trial. They are initially rejected but eventually succeed in telling their story. They claim that Robbin & their inventor friend Dan "Fix-It" Cameron had an argument over Cameron's atomic firing chamber being funded by Robbin for military use. Cameron refused to let Robbin get the device. The police arrest Cameron. The children decide to return to the house to find the device & clear Cameron's name. While there, they encounter various spooky incidents & are attacked by a giant gorilla.

After watching this rather infantile & extremely silly haunted house comedy intended for children, I came to the conclusion that the kids' films of the 1940s were absolutely terrible in their approach to entertaining the audience.

Who Killed Doc Robbin was made in 1948 & had all the hallmarks of being one of those Our Gang shorts made between 1922 & 1944 – sort of an early variation of The Little Rascals. Both the Our Gang shorts & this feature were made by Hal Roach Studios, which had great success with Our Gang.

Who Killed Doc Robbin is just plain bad. The humour is infantile & silly & with the two Black kids in the cast being used as the butt of some stupid gags, quite racist. The story is full of stupid things that won't happen in the real world – a group of kids bursting into a courtroom in order to derail a murder trial so that they can clear the defendant – in real life, the kids would be ejected from court or questioned by the police before allowed to give their testimony. Even Judge Judy, the queen of daytime court shows, wouldn't simply let this kind of thing happen. The haunted house format is used for some cliché gags with skeletons in upright coffins, 'dead' bodies in closets, the old 'sinister eyes peering through a painting' chestnut that never fails to make me laugh & the stupid idea of having the villain – George Zucco – in a gorilla suit. The film is ridiculous & should be relegated to the dust bin of obscurity.
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7/10
Who Killed Doc Robbin was Hal Roach's second attempt at reviving Our Gang without actually using that name
tavm4 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A few years after the M-G-M-produced-only series of Our Gang shorts was cancelled, OG creator Hal Roach had decided to revive the "kid adventure comedies" by producing a couple of features-or "streamliners" as these were usually a little less than an hour-featuring a new set of tykes. This is the second of them as I have yet to find the first one, Curley. To get the approval from his former distributor, Roach had to give up the right to purchase back the name "Our Gang" which he had originally reserved in the 1938 agreement when he sold the series to them. To help him, he got both his son, Hal Roach Jr., and former series director, Robert F. McGowan, to produce. McGowan also provided the story. To perhaps make the pictures more appealing, they both were made in color but it's not Technicolor but Cinecolor, a more inferior process though since the print I watched was washed out, it had to have looked better than that! Anyway, among the kids cast was Renee Beard-Stymie's younger brother-who portrayed Dis while someone else played his sibling, Dat. The settings are a courtroom and a haunted house. For a while, it looked like this would follow the plot of previous OG short, Little Miss Pinkerton, and have an actual murder but that turns out to not be the case. If you've seen most of the Little Rascals shorts like I have, you'll probably notice many gags and lines and chuckle with glee as I did. Oh, and there's at least one supporting player I recognized from a previous series short-Paul Hurst, previously a frustrated bus conductor in Going' Fishing, here playing a policeman who has to deal with the kids visiting a kindly man named "Fix-it" Dan in jail. So on that note, if you love the Our Gang/Little Rascals, you'll probably get some joy watching Who Killed Doc Robbin as I did. P.S. I noticed part of the score from Laurel & Hardy's Way Out West though Marvin Hatley wasn't credited here. Also, this would be "Uncle Bob" McGowan's last involvement in film as he'd retire afterwards. When there was a reunion of the silent Our Gang on television several years later, however, he turned up on the program in question-"You Asked for It"-along with teacher Fern Carter, and frequent series cinematographer Art Lloyd. I'll mention how that went when I review that program soon...
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6/10
Racially, A Post-War Reflection
richard.fuller118 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The rewriting of acceptance and recognition after WWII is something we will never understand if we then ourselves disregard it as having taken place.

I always wondered why maids in the 30s and 40s would be black (tho there were exceptions, Jean Harlow's maid in Dinner at Eight is white. Imagine that characterization from a black woman and how it would have been received), but by the time of the 50s, maids were now white.

So it is equally interesting here that Hal Roach, who created the Little Rascals-Our Gang shorts, providing two breakthrough faces of children who crossed racial barriers, Stimey and Buckwheat (the earlier fellow with Jackie Cooper was equally impressive and curse me I can never remember his name), would then resort to this whitewashed group.

Belding, as Speck. Was he supposed to be a fair-haired Alfalfa with all the laughs? Missed.

Olsen as Curley, a slimmer blonde Spanky? Missed.

Twice it seemed two of the boys, Speck and Dud, attempted a Buster Keaton somersault when they tripped (failing at it much the same way Chevy Chase would mess up on Saturday Night Live), which then also makes me wonder about the rediscovering of Keaton going on and an apparent assumption that just anyone could manage the feat.

But then we come to Dis and Dat. Now I clearly saw an edited version; there was no washing machine (sounding like something that was done on the Little Rascals with Buckwheat) nor was the whiteout of the child's face shown, but the two pairs of eyes floating in the darkness was aired.

The amazing thing is Stimey and Buckwheat (and the earlier fellow) were all given human behavior and flaws to portray on the Little Rascals and Our Gang, so now to see these two portrayed like this is quite puzzling, but truly on the threshold of the whitening of Americana.

There literally seems to be a struggle going on to include the kids, . . . but not include them. Then they are shown again, they are hidden at the back. Then one vanishes completely, having his clothes taken by the monkey.

My guess would be either the budget had to be cut, so one of the token children was removed (again, astonishing to see two black children in a program this old to begin with. Half dozen white kids with different color hair is okay, but to believe old Hollywood, and in a sense Hollywood of today, there is always only one black person, or person 'of color' in existence, then everyone else is allowed to be white) But then, while I don't think it happened, it's fun to imagine the parents of one of the kids pulling their kid out of the program, feeling they aren't being given anything to do, which they weren't.

I have no problem wondering why the parents allowed their kids to do this program. The same could be said for the five whites and how it ended up being total hokum in the end.

The child who was removed was probably glad to be let go.

As for the whiteface response, Just a few years ago, Michael Vick's picture was tossed around on Yahoo with him whitened up, so how far have we advanced?

A missed stepping stone in the development of Hollywood's failed perception, I would say. Certainly not a reflection of what America thought.

As it is, I like odd obscurities like this.
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5/10
You'll find out!
gridoon20189 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not really familiar with the "Our Gang" series (I think I've seen only one of their shorts, which was included as a DVD extra with a Marx Brothers movie), so I can only judge this "revival" attempt on its own: its has some mildly amusing bits, most of them in the first half (like the judge who can barely control his laughter at the kids' antics), but as soon as the action moves (and stays there until the end) to Doc Robbin's "haunted" mansion (complete with all sorts of traps, secret passages, strange sounds, etc.), "Who Killed Doc Robbin" becomes plodding and overly claustrophobic: it's essentially 30 minutes of the same thing, the kids running around the house, first chasing a small chimp, later being chased by a big gorilla. The young actors are actually quite good at what they have to do (even the chimp performs well), it's their material that lets them down. However, the film is almost worth sitting through just for a truly out-of-left-field finale. ** out of 4.
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4/10
At best, it's a history lesson
charles_gilkison8 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Although I'd rarely missed a Saturday matinée at the local Tuxedo Theatre during the late 1940s, I first saw WHO KILLED DOC ROBBIN? a few evenings ago on a DVD from The Dollar Store. Unquestionably, the blatant racism in it horrified me. The real parents of "Dis" and "Dat" should've been sterilized for allowing their boys to undergo such humiliating abuse. From the 'nightglow" to the "scared white," the stereotypical routines are offensive, to say the least. After recovering from the shock, though, I began to view the film from a historical perspective. In 1948, Indianapolis was definitely earning its reputation as "the northernmost southern city in the country." Restaurants, schools, and even orphanages operated under the separate-but-equal" concept, which meant that those serving whites and those serving "coloreds" were different entities, and that difference was rigidly maintained. Growing up in an all-white neighborhood, I'd encountered only real black person, an aged ex-slave who totally lacked Uncle Remus's wit and warmth. Otherwise, all that I knew about "Negroes" had come from radio programs like AMOS 'N' ANDY, THE JACK BENNY SHOW, TOM MIX, THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE, and the extremely racist BEULAH. Television was just emerging as a popular medium, but the number of black performers appearing on the screen was almost zero. And those few who did get on the air were Stepin Fetchit clones. Even the audiences at such kiddie shows as HOWDY DOODY were completely WASPish. Extremely few films at that time made any effort to depict black Americans as other than lazy, slick sub-humans with ultra-severe mental deficiencies. They all danced and sang, as well as cooked and cleaned, but none of them had jobs requiring competence or generating ambition. Of course, African-Americans were hardly the only minority to suffer from media stereotyping. Indians were depicted as superstitious savages; Asians, as cunning cutthroats; and Latinos as oversexed "banditos." Senior citizens had to endure the less-than-flattering stereotype of being crabby geezers, meddlesome matriarchs, inept relics, or simple biddies, not unlike the characters played by Gabby Hayes, Marjorie Main, Tom London, and Zazu Pitts. Though numerically a majority, even white women were usually portrayed as supportive stay-at-homes whose careers were rearing their children and surviving dress sales. So, in 1948, like most of the boys in my neighborhood, I spent my quarter every Saturday afternoon to watch the matinée at the Tuxedo Theatre. And for that twenty-five cents, I saw three boring previews (trailers), five color cartoons, one serial episode, and two Republic B-westerns. The theater manager frequently filled the second slot with Hoppy's and Gene's oaters and Tarzan's adventures. By today's standards, frankly, none of them were "politically correct" or historically accurate. (By the mid-1940s, for example, quite a number of native Africans were residing in cities and not with tribes. Moreover, contrary to Hollywood's image, the lower half of "The Dark Continent" consists of grasslands rather than jungles.) In other words, if WHO KILLED DOC ROBBIN? had appeared at the Tuxedo -- and it never did! -- I, like everyone else in that audience, would've laughed at the racist jokes, screamed at the horror routines, and not once thought about the blatant bigotry. Would I let young children today see it? NO! Should some film studio like Disney make a modernized, sanitized version of it? In view of how wretched many of the updated movies have been, NO! Probably the best use for it now would be to provide media students in college with an actual insight into the realities of post-war America.
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2/10
Tedious nonsense
Red-Barracuda13 June 2012
The enigmatic Doc Robbin is murdered when one night his laboratory explodes. The Fix-It Man gets unfairly blamed, so his friends, a gang of little kids, set out to prove his innocence.

This tiresome movie is like a live action version of a Scooby Doo cartoon without any of the good bits. It recalls the mystery films of the 1930's where a group of people navigate around an old dark house trying to solve some murder-mystery. Like those films too, this house is replete with secret passageways and a man in a gorilla suit. What kind of sets this one apart I suppose is the fact that it was shot in colour. There really isn't anything else interesting about it. Although I suppose in fairness it is a kids movie, so it isn't really meant for the likes of me.
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Racism & a weird guy who hangs w/ kids
Pixie_Squarepants15 July 2005
This Hal Roach guy, "filmmaker" must've been some piece of work. You can tell he was racist against blacks. This cast consists of mostly white brats whose characters all have names and dialogue. The only 2 black kids in this are little black boys, and I guess because they're black, don't deserve names. Instead, they're called "Dis" and the other one is "Dat". Dis & Dat- no kidding. Aside from not having dialogue, they're portrayed as black people were back then, and as white people attributed them to be, as rather dense. I'll bet any amount of money that these 2 kids weren't even paid the SAG wages their white counterparts were. Several things about this movie offended me re: the race portrayal. In one scene, the white kids opened a door into a darkened room where only floaty round white objects were. Turns out, it was Dis & Dat's eyes & teeth. This old cliché from old movies, that you can only see black people's teeth or eyes in a dark room, really offends me. They are relegated to being on par w/ an animal that has eye-shine. Humans don't have eye-shine. The old "black people are like monkeys & apes" mentality of old Hollywood really pi**es me off. Another scene depicts exactly that. A scary monkey gets loose & the white kids confuse Dis or Dat with the monkey & run shrieking. Another moment, Dat gets scared & actually turns white- special effects blanch him out. Another scene, Dis & Dat are left in charge of the lemonade stand. After the white kids leave the boys lay down on their backs & w/ rubber hoses, drink all the lemonade-virtually doing lemonade bongs. I guess this is to convey that all blacks are lazy, unreliable, and this thinly implied Dis & Dat were on their way to future alcoholism. As for "Fix-It Dan", (who by the way reminded me of a fusion of a crazy-haired David Lynch & Floyd the barber from Mayberry)- in today's world, it's just weird for a bunch of kids to be hanging w/ a grown man. Unless you're Michael Jackson of course.
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2/10
Where are the kids' parents?
MartinHafer2 August 2009
This film is in the public domain and so not surprisingly, the print is terrible quality. Although it's filmed in color, the print is very washed out and the faces of everyone is a strange pink hue.

The film starts with a trial. A group of kids come bursting in and announce that they have information for the court. The kids, ages 5 to about 8, are allowed to just get up and testify! One even gets to testify with a dog climbing into his lap--which begs the question "where are the kids' parents?!". Eventually, despite many distractions, the kids are able to relate what they know about Doc Robbin.

What follows are the adventures of some precocious and very untalented kids. The humor is amazingly broad and bad and the film appears to be one that might only have appealed to kids when it debuted. Today, I can't imagine it appealing to anyone--it's that bad. The film should perhaps be retitled "Who Cares Who Killed Doc Robbin!".

In many ways, this style film is like a crappily written early version of "The Goonies" or any one of dozens of films made in the 1980s-90s where the supposedly clever kids come to the rescue because their parents and other adults are idiots. Yeah, whatever.

Bad acting, horrible writing and a whopping budget of $47.50, this film is understandably in the public domain. However, instead of getting it free, it seems that they should pay you to watch it!
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Poor Zucco
Michael_Elliott26 February 2008
Who Killed Doc Robbin? (1948)

1/2 (out of 4)

Hal Roach gave us some great comedians and great films but this certainly isn't one of them. Roach was trying to bring the Our Gang back with a new group of kids but I guess this film is one of the reasons this group only made two movies. In the film a young woman is on trial for the murder of Doc Robbin (George Zucco) but the kids seem to know the truth about the real killer. This film runs a short 55-minutes but I could have sworn it ran a few hours longer. I knew I was in trouble right before the opening credits when we first met the "kids" because they each deliver one line (the title) and they were already annoying the hell out of me. The comedy in the film is so forced that I was ready to scratch my eyes out and the kids give some of the worst performances I've ever seen. Even Zucco comes off very badly here. The only benefit is the Technicolor.
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Floundering Revival
dougdoepke13 April 2016
A gang of cute kids tries to right a wrong by sneaking into a gloomy mansion to find evidence that will exonerate an adult friend.

Looks almost like the 60-minutes was thrown together. It's like the producers thought they could just have the kids react to every spooky old house cliché and that would be enough. Unfortunately it's not. Basically the kids run hither, thither, and yon without plot or characterization. And when not just running around, there's freckle-face Speck (Belding) scrunching out a barely audible scream, again, again and again. All this may save on script, but it also gets tiresome. Meanwhile, movie vets like Grey, Mitchell, and the perennially sinister Zucco, get little more than a few lines and cameo appearances.,

Frankly, I liked Hal Roach's previous Our Gang attempt, Curley (1947), better. Too bad these attempts failed, but judging from Doc Robbin, the studio was pretty much at sea in knowing what a new formula might look like. After all, it's hard, if not impossible, to replace the likes of Spanky, Alfalfa, and Stymie.
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3/10
Attempt to revive the Little Rascals.
bkoganbing22 August 2014
Watching Who Killed Doc Robin it looked like Hal Roach, Jr. was trying to start a new set of Little Rascals for the post World War II kids. The Little Rascals had come and gone and the original ones would live on in television syndication.

The plot such as it is involved the always sinister George Zucco as a mad scientist performing all kinds of sinister experiments until his lab exploded and he disappears. Nurse Virginia Grey is suspected of killing Zucco and some kind of device to use with nuclear weapons has disappeared as well.

In court the proceedings are interrupted by these boisterous kids who go out to Zucco's house and stumble into a solution for all that has gone on. If you've seen the Little Rascals, just add a haunted house and you know what to expect.

I was never a big fan of the Rascals so I might be prejudiced, but Hal Roach, Jr. proved you can't go back.
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4/10
Say, Haven't I seen this plot somewhere before?
mark.waltz31 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Hal Roach goes back into the haunted mansion of "Topper Returns,", even recycling the same music and toppling Lazy Susan, just subbing kids instead of adult comics. Curley is back from his earlier adventures, this time becoming involved in murder. George Zucco is the corpse, a small town doctor involved in strange experiments on animals, including a very smart chimpanzee who knows how to dress in little boy clothes that actually fit perfectly. The spooky music from "Topper Returns" dominates the film which has a few amusing moments of slapstick but seems too much like an Our Gang spoof of "The Old Dark House". There are a few moments in the courtroom scene opening which have some originality, such as when the little girl explains the difference between right and wrong to the judge. However, when two pairs of eyes suddenly appear in a darkened alcove, it is not at all surprising to discover that they belong to the two adorable black boys who always turn up at inopportune moments.
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3/10
poorly done all around
dbborroughs9 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is the second film with Curly and his gang, and the moment that Hal Roach hung up the idea of restarting the Our Gang films in the post WW2 years. The plot concerns the death of Doc Robbin and the trial of his nurse for his demise. Curly and his gang try to help, but only make matters worse but implicating the nurse's boyfriend. Eventually everyone ends up in a haunted house complete with a gorilla and secret passages. Better than the first film in the aborted series, this film is full of really stupid humor and bad performances. Its amusing for a couple of minutes but it grows tiresome really fast since the film is geared for kids by writers who didn't understand what entertains kids. Mostly the film takes the stereotypical haunted house conventions and makes them dumber. Its easy to see why the series never went beyond this film. If you see one of the two Curly films see this one since as bad as it is it is kind of watchable, but even then that should not be taken to be a recommendation.
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