Series: Our Gang

Director: Robert A. McGowan
Producer: Hal Roach, Robert F. McGowan
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Joe Cobb, Jean Darling, Allen Hoskins, Bobby Hutchins, Mary Ann Jackson, Harry Spear
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 04 May 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: G-19
Filming dates: December 10-29, 1928
Rating: -/10

Fast Freight

Available on DVD:

Farina is riding in a hammock underneath a train with Pete next to him when he declares it to be lunchtime. He grabs a large corkscrew and drills through the underside of the carriage above him, right into the bottom of a barrel containing jellybeans. They fall through the gored hole and into his hands and he disposes of them greedily into his mouth. Not content, he removes a cork from the wooden flooring to expose a second barrel containing gum drops, which fall into his hands which he then feeds to Pete. A third barrel containing white paint is drilled into, spilling its contents all over Farina's face just as the train stops. Farina and Pete get off the train and find the rest of the gang sitting nearby with a large double-bass guitar.
Farina has a home-made one-man band thing going on with symbols attached to his knees, a harmonica, a guitar, foot-bells and a cowbell which he plays simultaneously. The gang love it and cheer him on until the train whistle calls and lures Farina back onto it, after he tells Joe he is going to California to be a street sweeper. Back on the train, Farina, now joined by the other kids, resumes his position underneath the carriage. He bores another hole through the floor but this time he encounters bees which filter through the hole and sting him and the others repeatedly. The kids gets off the train and gather in a small clearing in some trees. As it gets dark they contemplate spending the night in an old darkened house nearby. They enter but a storm outside causes the wind to blow part of the structure down and block the doorway, preventing them from leaving.
In the abandoned house the kids encounter a flying bat which Joe tries to hit with a wooden stick (but ends up hitting Farina instead). The gramophone record spews out spooky sounds and words which frighten both the dog and the kids. A large painting of a professor on the wall is blown down by the wind and conveniently lodges itself in a crack in a doorway. It's moving motion tricks the kids into believing he is real. Balls that are blown the stairs, Joe standing on a rake with a white sheet over it. Of course, all of these things just happen to occur only when the kids are in the house. Harry is accidentally pushed into a hole in the floor and conveniently lands safely in a vat filled with flour, which just happens to whiten his face. Did I mention "convenient"?
Joe throws his sheet over Pete as Harry emerges from his vat looking like a ghost. Wheezer, who has been relatively unnoticed all this time, climbs the stairs and conveniently finds a box of different sized lighbulbs and begins hurling them down at the sheet-covered Pete. Farina lights a candle (despite the ample lighting already present), puts it in the seam of his hat and places the hat down conveniently on top of a frog, who then jumps up and down repeatedly. Farina runs for it and is grabbed by Harry who is trying to get out of the vat. Mary Ann gets chased by the frog under the hat before having a lizard jump down off a shelf and into the back of her dress. Joe stands to attention when the voice from the gramophone calls him to "halt", whilst the other kids run scared throughout the house.
Finally, a car pulls up at the house and out steps the sheriff (Robert Dudley). He enters the house through a back door and finds the kids scared out of their heads. He tells them that he has been sent to find them and to return them back home. All the children naturally are relieved and excited to be leaving the house of horrors. Farina and Pete reboard the train but Farina doesn't realize the train is heading for Alexandria, Virginia. He also doesn't realize that he is locked into the train carriage with skeletons and mummys which are bound for a research academy. The final scene has Pete and Farina in fear with their ears and hair standing on end respectively.

Favourite bit
This may seem like an odd choice, but my favourite part is when the kids get off the train and hold up briefly in the clearing in the trees. The wind picks up and night is nearby. It's a beautiful moment which captures the kids in a very nostalgic light.

Copyrighted April 1, 1929; renewed September 13, 1956.
It was the 85th film in the series to be released. That is, unless Small Talk was released earlier, as per some sources, in which case "Fast Freight" would have been the 86th release.
The film was released on the same day as Laurel & Hardy's Unaccustomed As We Are.
When the kids enter the house it seems to be already well lit despite their candles being the only light source?
The record which Pete turns on with the gramophone is "The Ravings Of John McCollough".
This painting on the wall is also featured in the Clyde Cook short film Moonlight And Noses. It is supposed to be James Finlayson.
Notice how Wheezer is barely seen throughout. He only appears in specific scenes. His absence is most noticable during the house sequences.
When all the kids are riding underneath the train during the bee attack, you can see the train isn't actually moving (the rails are motionless), and that it is in fact a backdrop that is revolving to make it appear they are in motion.
My opinion
What begins as a promising development early on winds up with incredibly unbelievable co-incidence at the end. There's half a film in there somewhere. Wheezer is almost unseen, and the film is carried mainly by Farina and Joe.

Joe Cobb
Jean Darling
Allen Hoskins
Bobby Hutchins
Mary Ann Jackson
Mary Ann
Harry Spear
Pete the Dog
Robert Dudley
Chief of Police


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner)
Hal Roach's Rascals: The Our Gang Comedies by Irv Hyatt (book)
Tom Schober (help)

This page was last updated on: 13 May 2023