This is one of the extremely low-budget Mickey McGuire short comedies which were ground out by Fontaine Fox's production company, based on a character in Fox's 'Toonerville Folks' comic strip. The only real points of interest in these crude comedies are the presence of the very young Mickey Rooney and the influence these films had on the Our Gang series.
Mickey (Himself) McGuire is the president of the Scorpions Club. Today's Mickey's birthday, and a new kid has applied for membership of the Scorpions: Stinky, a boy with long hair and a cissy outfit. (Amazingly, this kid looks like a not-so-dry run for Stinky, the boy played on 1950s television by adult comedian Joe Besser in the Abbott & Costello Show.) Stinky and the various Scorpions give Mickey birthday presents which turn out to be practical jokes.
A regular cast member in the Mickey McGuire series was Hambone, the black boy. When I see a black actor in a silent comedy, I usually cringe in anticipation of some stupid racist joke. In fact, in the Mickey McGuire silent shorts (and in the sound shorts which continued the series), Hambone is almost always treated as a full member of the gang: just as smart, brave and industrious as the white kids (which isn't saying much). The Mickey McGuire shorts are actually less racist than the Our Gang shorts (notably 'The Kid from Borneo'), which contained many 'jokes' that demeaned black people.
Here, the funniest gag occurs when Mickey puts a toy telescope to his left eye and looks through it. He can't see anything, but when he withdraws the 'scope there's a big black ring round his eye. Then Hambone puts the telescope to his own right eye and looks through it. He can't see anything either. But, when the black boy puts down the telescope, there's a WHITE ring round his eye. I laughed at this gag, which I don't consider racist: it doesn't treat the black kid as an inferior to the white kid, but merely as being a different colour.
All the Mickey McGuire comedies are very crude. If you watch several of them in sequence, you can keep track of Mickey Rooney's dental progress as he loses his milk teeth, and then his adult teeth grow in. I'll rate "Mickey's Initiation" just 2 out of 10.
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