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
Schmalty and a ridiculous ending...but STILL a very good film.
"Skippy" is a very unusual film because young Jackie Cooper was only 8 years-old when he made the movie...and was nominated for Best Actor! In addition, the film was nominated for Best Picture and the director, Norman Taurog, received the Oscar for Best Direction*.
The story is similar to a full-length Little Rascals episode...minus the humor. Apparently folks in the early 30s ate up schmaltzy stories featuring kids....and the public ate this one up!
Skippy (Cooper) is a child who lives in a lovely home and his father is the head of the board of health. However, his dad is also rather snobby and doesn't want Skippy playing with the poor kids who live on the other side of the tracks (literally). However, Skippy likes the kids in Shantytown....and who can blame him since the kids living near him are annoying...with Jackie Searl playing the usual sort of annoying brat he played in most every film! However, Skippy's new friend, Sooky (Robert Coogan--Jackie Coogan's brother) is in a lot of trouble, as the nasty dog catcher got his dog and he can't afford to pay for the return of the mutt. So, Skippy tries to help out the best he can.
This is a modestly enjoyable film. My only complaint about it is the ending...it gives the audience everything they probably wanted but it wasn't logical at all. It's a shame, as the film was quite good until this 'out of nowhere' ending. Still, overall it's well worth seeing....particularly if you have a high tolerance for schmaltz.
*In his autobiography, Jackie Cooper recounted a story about the director (who was also his uncle). Apparently, the script called for Cooper to cry and the boy was having difficulty doing it. So, Taurog apparently told a crew member to 'take the dog out and shoot it'...and the crew member apparently shot a gun into the air to make it sound like they really DID do it! The boy cried...and never forgave his uncle for this! And, frankly, I can't blame the boy and think Taurog was a bit of a monster.
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