Series: Sunshine Sammy

Director: Robert Kerr, James Parrott
Producer: Hal Roach

Stars: Ernest Morrison, Joe White, Ethel Broadhurst, Vera White, Sammy Brooks
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 04 December 1921
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: E-1
Filming dates:
Rating: 3/10

The Pickaninny


A couple of campers pull up at a quiet stream to do a spot of fishing. The man camper (Joe White) drops his tin of bait and has to go get more from the grocery store, leaving his wife and baby by the river. When the store starts filling up with customers, the owner calls his black child assistant 'Little Casino' (Sunshine Sammy) to come and serve. He begins to serve a lady (Vera White) when he gets distracted by a little black girl who has come in with her mother. Sammy basically dumps the lady customer and walks off to serve the black lady whislt the little girl hides behind her mum and accidentally pulls off her apron. The lady thinks it was the clerk so she hits him and they all leave.
The camper enters the store and sees a customer shooting a dart gun and hitting the bullseye on a target so he pins a ribbon on his jacket as a token of his accuracy. The camper asks for a can of fishworms so Sammy goes outside and stuffs a chicken into a wooden box and gets it to pick worms out of the ground. After a short time Sammy has enough worms to fill the tin and so takes it back inside for the customer. The clerk then hands Sammy a basket and sends him on his way. Sammy walks off past a group of young boys who are messing around swimming and jumping into the river nearby whilst the camper returns to his wife and baby. The camper sits up on some rocks and begins fishing with his new bait while his wife starts unloading the car with bedding. Sammy joins the camper on the rocks and starts his own fishing - with immediate success, much to the chagrin of the man who cannot catch anything with his new bait.
Just to rub it in the camper's face, Sammy decides to move right under his nose to continue his fishing and begins catching them immediately. The cocky boy even has the audacity to move to the spot where the camper's wife and child are and demands the baby stops crying as it scares the fish! If that isn't bad enough, Sammy plonks his fishing pole (actually a stick with a bit of string on it) inside the baby's pram when he sees the mum rocking it in order to make his line bob in the water. The mum walks off and leaves the pram unattended and yep, the inevitable happens and the pram falls into the water.... presumably with the baby inside (we don't see the baby being removed?) The father (eventually) dives into the river to find the infant only to discover it is safe in mother's arms in the tent.
A burly looking bearded man emerges from the woods and starts filling up a bottle with moonshine but he is seen by cross-eyed officer Snoopey (George Rowe - who else?), who shakes him down. Sammy takes the bottle and fills up the officer's carburetor before disposing of the moonshine. The camper goes hunting for rabbits and ends up shooting a man in a bear costume by mistake. The camper pays the man for the costume and then gets inside it. When Sammy sees the bear he runs for his life, back to the grocery store. Laughing at his expense, the camper is soon accosted by a real bear who chases him into the store. The clerk, Sammy, the camper (now out of the costumne) and a woman customer hide from it. Chaos ensues and the store is wrecked. The camper runs out of the store and is chesed up a tree by the real bear. Sammy laughs at his misfortune but he himself is collared by his father, who picks the boy up under one arm and the bear under his other arm before walking off and giving Sammy a stiff talking to.

Favourite bit
Hard to pick a memorable moment from such a boring film, but I'll go with Joe White falling backwards into the river. Why? Because it takes some balls to actually do something like that.

Copyrighted December 6, 1921.
On September 20, 1921, Hal Roach signed a contract with Pathé for the release of a Sunshine Sammy two-reeler that failed to achieve series status. That film was The Pickaninny. No further films in the series were made. By the time this film was released Ernest Morrison had already starred in over fifty films for the studio, mostly with Snub Pollard.
The word 'pickaninny' means black child.
L.E. Relyea Grocery is the name of the store.
When the black lady swings to hit the grocery store owner she misses by a mile, but he still falls down!
The distance between the camping spot and the store couldn't have been far because it takes Sammy the same amount of time to walk it as it does for the camper to drive it.
The camper's wife waits until her husband returns from the store before she starts unloading the stuff from the car. Why couldn't she have been doing this while he was away? Oh, wait... it's because he had the car. Okay, so just forget I said that. Brain fart moment from me there.
Ernest Morrison was 8 years old when he made this film.
The lack of effort the dad makes in order to retrieve the pram from the river after it rolls in? For all he knew his baby was in the pram, but not wanting to get his feet wet, he decides to lean over and try and pull the pram free? What a dick. Now let's talk about the mother, who leaves the pram in such a precarious position where anybody with a brain larger than the size of a peanut could see what was going to happen... she just walks off and leaves it there unattended.
Honestly, who DIVES into shallow water?
A clever scene where, after being 'fed' moonshine, the cop's car drives away looking drunk, with the wheels wobbling all over the place!
What the experts say
"Well it's real easy to see why they never made any further films in the series. After seeing this film I was completely bewildered as to how on earth anybody could ever have thought this passed for entertainment! Men wearing bear costumes and wandering around the woods armed with rifles?" ~ Lord Heath.

Ernest Morrison
Little Casino
Joe White
The camper
Ethel Broadhurst
Camper's wife
Vera White
Grocery customer
Sammy Brooks
Short man in grocery store
George Rowe
Officer Snoopey
Eddie Baker
Sunshine Sammy's father
Tiny Ward
Fire-nose Flannigan
Mark Jones
Grocery clerk




(click any image to enlarge)


This page was last updated on: 04 December 2019