Series: Our Gang

Director: Robert F. McGowan
Producer: Hal Roach, Robert F. McGowan
Story Editor: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd, F.E. Hershey
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Allen Hoskins, Norman Chaney, Joe Cobb, Bobby Hutchins, Mary Ann Jackson, Jean Darling, Harry Spear
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 15 June 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: G-24
Filming dates: April 17-25, 1929
Rating: -/10


Available on DVD:

Harry and Farina are hanging out at a train yard, riding the turntable used to realign trains onto different tracks. Farina points out where each train is heading (New York, Chicago etc.), until a burst of steam from a locomotive forces them to quickly move out of the way. Nearby, the other gang members are on the back of an open box carriage. Jean plays the banjo to accompany Mary Ann's (bad) singing, whilst Wheezer milks a small goat, before Farina and Harry jump onto the back of the carriage.
Joe and Chubby wait by the side of the tracks as a train pulls in to pick them up. Joe's father (OTTO FRIES) shows an enthusiastic Joe how the train operates, with the use of the throttle and whistle. After a short journey, the train stops and everybody gets off. As the father goes off to eat his lunch, Farina and Harry approach Joe and Chubby and express their interest in the train. Harry is pushy and practically orders Joe to take him for a little ride. Under duress Joe obliges and wastes little time in tormenting Farina by blowing billows of smoke at him from the train! Chubby tells his father and Otto tells him how dangerous it could be to allow the kids to fool around with the train. He then summons Joe to get off the train, but before Joe and Harry can get off, a crazy hobo by the name of Loco Joe boards them and threatens to drive the train out of the yard. He throws the throttle and then jumps off, leaving Joe and Harry stranded on the moving train.
Farina runs after the train (which is moving in reverse), but in doing so he catches his shoe in the tracks. The train stops just in time and avoids smashing the carriage with Wheezer and the girls, and then as the engines reverse, the train then heads back towards Farina. Farina (or at least his dummy) bends backwards between the tracks to avoid being steamrolled. This footage is repeated (in long shot) until Chubby comes to the rescue. Six fly-by's later, and the train hooks up with the box car and steams off down the track into the open countryside after Chubby sets the signal to switch the tracks. Farina climbs on board (in miraculous fashion!)
Farina, Joe and Harry argue in the train as to how they are going to control, and ultimately stop the engines. All is going seemingly well (under the circumstances), but of course nothing is that simple, and when a stranded motorist gets his truck stuck on the tracks up ahead it ends up being hit at full force by the speeding train. If that wasn't bad enough, an oncoming train is heading straight for them. Both trains see one another but neither slow down (it's like playing "chicken" on a single line track!) Ultimately the oncoming train manages to reverse into the convenient sidings that are close by.
Joe does stop the train and is greeted by the breakman who tells them they shall all be rewarded from above. Just then, an egg falls from the train and splats over Farina's face. Joe's father gathers the kids around and tells them they were lucky to have not been hurt. Farina, who is sleeping next to them, is awoken by a second egg that drops onto his face from above.

Favourite bit
I don't have a specific scene for this film but the shots of the train yard and the activity in it are truly wonderful to see. Notwithstanding, the front cab shots of the train driving off down the tracks into the open country are a treat.

Copyrighted December 9, 1929.
The 88th film in the series to be released.
Part of the film was filmed at the Santa Fe depot. As Robert Demoss writes, "The tracks run along the west side of the Los Angeles River. The roundhouse is just north of Washington Boulevard. In his book Following The Comedy Trail, author Leon Smith mentions the Olympic Boulevard Bridge, which is north of this location. It can best be seen right after Joe convinces Farina not to jump from the train. Smith also mentions the 4th Street Viaduct as appearing behind the open-air car in which Wheezer and the girls are playing, but it doesn't match the photo in his book, and looks more like the Olympic Boulevard Bridge. He also mentions that the Sears Building (at 2675 East 12th Street) is shown numerous times, but this doesn't match the photo in his book, either. Maltin & Bann state that some of the location footage was shot behind the Samuel Goldwyn studio near Santa Monica Boulevard, which is a pretty good distance from these other locations. They mention some identifying oil cylinders in that area. This location can also be seen in Laurel & Hardy's "Berth Marks" and Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid."
The opening title card presents the film as "HIS RASCALS' VOICES".
Just look at that opening scene with the train chucking up all that thick black smoke! Imagine that today with all the environmental issues and laws in place! Just after the opening credits end, Farina and Harry are seen standing near the end on the railway turntable as it rotates clockwise. Another no-no in today's health and safety world.
When we first see Farina on the turntable, his shoes look as though they are five sizes too big for his feet!
The scene where Farina and Harry jump up onto the back of the carriage with Wheezer, there is a conversation between the three of them but due to the excessive noise on the soundtrack it is virtually impossible to hear a word of what they actually talk about!
The kids are on a stationary train at the beginning of the film which has "A.T. & S.F. 191240" on the side of it. This stood for Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.
When Joe blows the steam whistle on the train, the train is in motion, yet when we see the close-up of the whistle it is a motionless shot.
Farina and Joe shake hands.
Harry has quite a struggle to get Joe up into the train!
It would appear that Joe and Chubby are meant to be brothers in the film?
At around 9:06, a man's arm is seen waving out of the train, yet supposedly only Joe and Harry are on board.
During the runaway train sequence, some election posters can be seen, but I can't make out who it was that was running for office. Another poster seen during the runaway train sequence advertised the 1928 feature "Abie's Irish Rose."
Among the items in the railway car inhabited by Jean, Mary, and Wheezer, is a box of Edison Mazda Lamps, which figured more prominently in "Bouncing Babies" (no. 93).
The first reel ends when Farina says "I wish ah wasn't where ah ain't." This is just after the train runs over him for the first time, at around 9:26.
When Joe drives the train approaching the turntable, the speed of the smoke is exaggerated by the film being sped up.
There is no way a train can be brought to such a sudden stop as suggested in the film. Every time Joe drives the train and stops just short of hitting the box car, it appears that his train has come to a sharp stop.
When Farina has his shoe stuck in the tracks, why doesn't he just unlace his footwear and discard it, rather than taking his chances with an angry, steaming locomotive that is sure to shoot past over his head?
The train runs over Farina's head six times.
It would be physically impossible for a train to reverse into a sidings that quickly (it would derail) and then reset the track so that the pursuing train would not follow it, but rather, continue its course in a straight line.
My opinion
Visually a very good film. Lots of experimental (and dodgy) camera techniques, which look interesting too.

Allen Hoskins
Joe Cobb
Harry Spear
Norman Chaney
Bobby Hutchins
Mary Ann Jackson
Mary Ann
Jean Darling
Otto Fries
Joe's father
Harry Lorraine
Loco Joe
Edward Thomas
Ed, engineer
Chester Bachman
Chet Brandenburg
Robert Page
Train nngineer
Ham Kinsey
Train nngineer
Robert F. McGowan
Limited passenger who stumbles
Carolyn Chaney
Train passenger
Dorothy Hamilton Darling
Train passenger
Jack Hill
Grocery truck driver
Lyle Tayo
Train passenger
Helen Jerome Eddy

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book) (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner),_Topeka_and_Santa_Fe_Railway (Wikipedia)
Craig Raguse (still)
Jay Brennan (help and assistance)
Chris Bungo (help and assistance)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Chester Bachman, Harry Lorraine)
Steve Wright (identification of Carolyn Chaney, Lyle Tayo)

This page was last updated on: 13 September 2023