Series: Will Rogers

Director: Jay A. Howe
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker

Stars: Will Rogers, Marie Mosquini, Charlie Hall
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 30 March 1924
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: R-9
Filming dates: November 16 - December 11, 1923
Rating: 4/10

Big Moments From Little Pictures

Available on DVD:

A lasso-whirling Will Rogers takes to the stage and addresses a non-seen audience about how he wants to present a short film featuring all the best parts of some popular movies. First up is Rudolph Valentino's "Blood And Sand". Rogers takes the role of the bullfighter who tries to entice a bored bull to chase him around but despite the enthusiastic crowd willing him on the bull just doesn't want to move. The women in the audience show their admiration by throwing money into the arena (one of them removes her garter from her shapely leg). The men in the crowd seem to be equally as entertained. After the rather dull gig is over Will walks onto the Roach backlot, gets in a car and is driven away.
The next sequence is parody on the Douglas Fairbanks film "Robin Hood". There he is, Will Rogers dressed up as Sir Robin of Loxley with his merry band of men in the forest. One of the men shoots an arrow through a tin can, but Robin goes one better and does the same. Robin then demonstrates his incredible ability (note sarcasm) to jump over a small rock on the ground. He then leaps through trees and across a few rocks on the ground (some shots are seen in slow motion). This is followed by him shooting an arrow into a playing card. The smartass even shoots an arrow backwards into the top of his previous arrow by using a mirror. It gets even more ridiculous as he shoots a third arrow into the other two. When the camera stops rolling we see Robin Hood's stunt double and how the extras have to help him down from his tree with the use of a ladder.
The second half of the film features Mr. Fox's "Over The Hills". Will, in his more traditional attire, arrives at the County Poor House where an elderly woman scrubs the floor and is kicked by the matron for being slow in her work. The woman is Will's mother and the two embrace with Will crying with genuine emotion, which is met by praise from the director and his cameraman who are filming the whole scene. Off screen we understand the reason for Will's tears as he reads a note from his (real-life) film producer warning him he will be fired unless he cuts his salary.
The final segment is of Mack Sennett's 'Keystone Cops' where a dastardly villain steals a purse from a nurse in the park. As the woman chases after him she accidentally lets go of her pram, which rolls off down the hill towards a lake. Her faithful dog saves the day. She finds the most conveniently placed telephone in the park and puts a call through to the inept police, who after creating their own chaos by sliding all over the wet roads in their vehicles, finally arrive to assist. The cops crash through a store and begin fighting with the employees as two nurses try to direct the cops to sorting out the trouble. The final few minutes just falls into complete ridiculousness with the typical cop-chase across a field and nothing making any sense whatsoever. The film closes with Will Rogers back on the stage with his lasso before he walks off.

Favourite bit
It's so sad that when your favourite moment of a movie involves a random woman in a crowd removing her garter and showing just a little big of leg. But... that's what the boredom of a Will Rogers film will do for you!

Copyrighted April 18, 1924.
Most prints of the film in circulation use the opening credits roll extracted from a different Will Rogers film, "Uncensored Movies" which lists Noah Young, Guinn Willians and Earl Mohan as being in this film. None of these actors are in "Big Moments From Little Pictures".
The scenes with the nursemaid and the baby were filmed in Westlake, now MacArthur Park.
In February 2022, film historian Ben Model featured this film as part of his Silent Comedy Watch Party YouTube video [timestamp start @ 1:07:26].
My opinion
Having seen a few of Will Rogers silent films prior to watching this I had extremely low expectations that I would be remotely entertained. I was surprised however to note that although this is no masterpiece, it is in fact better than I had dreaded to admit. The less than subtle references throughout the film are nice touches, from the note by Hal Roach, to naming stars such as Chaplin, Ben Turpin and Ford Sterling in the title cards. Will Rogers is never going to win comedian of the year (even Ben Blue is more entertaining to watch) but I do praise his efforts here for what looks more like a school play than it does a movie. It doesn't have the usual exctutiating sequences you would expect to find in a Rogers film which makes this one slightly bearable. That doesn't excuse the ending which was a complete comedic clusterfuck.

Will Rogers
Rufus the bullfighter/Robin Hood/
Son/Ford Sterling (Police chief)

Marie Mosquini
Charlie Hall
Chaplin lookalike
Dick Gilbert
Crowd extra (Blood And Sand segment)
Chet Brandenburg
Crowd extra (Blood And Sand segment)
Charles Lloyd
Crowd extra (Blood And Sand segment)
Jack Ackroyd
One of Robin's merry men (Robin Hood segment)
Sam Lufkin
One of Robin's merry men (Robin Hood segment)/
Keystone Cop
Don Maines
One of Robin's merry men (Robin Hood segment)
Helen Gilmore
Poor house matron
Billy Engle
Drunk in police station
Emma Tansey
Will's mother
Beth Darlington
Marvin Loback
D. Ross Lederman
Director from 'Over The Hills' segment
Carmencita Johnson


CREDITS (click image to enlarge) INTERTITLES (click image to enlarge)

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Acknowledgements: (YouTube - Ben Model)
Jim Jarvis (information)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Chet Brandenburg, Sam Lufkin, Charles Lloyd, Don Maines, D. Ross Lederman)
Jorge Finkielman (lobby card and still cleaning)
John Bengtson (identification of shootling location)

This page was last updated on: 03 April 2023