Series: Our Gang

Director: Robert F. McGowan
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Joe Cobb, Jackie Condon, Mickey Daniels, Johnny Downs, Allen Hoskins, Mary Kornman
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 10 January 1926
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: K-4
Filming dates: September 3-18, 1925
Rating: 6/10

Good Cheer

There are extreme winter conditions out there on the Hal Roach back-lot, with a blizzard in full swing. Pedestrians bump into one another and fall over on the sidewalk, as the Gang are happily enjoying a horse-drawn buggy ride, throwing snowballs at everybody along the way. The kids crowd the opening of a store window where the "real" Santa (Martin Wolfkeil) is demonstrating some merchandise with four small wind-up toys (real actors in miniature). The show ends and a curtain comes down, with a message saying the next show will start in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the curtain falls to the floor, exposing the Santa behind it out of uniform and thus spoiling the illusion of Father Christmas for the children who are gathered by.
The kids disperse and it is revealed for the first time that they are all alone, struggling, poor, and cold. Mickey (Daniels) takes pity on a boy trying to keep warm by heating his foot, whilst another challenges a bearded passer-by in the street as to whether the man is really Santa Claus? Joe and Farina stand outside a bakery and decide to inhale the smell of the freshly-made warm bread from within. A motorist pulls up and complains about the mud all over his car and offers $10 for it to be cleaned.  Mickey and Johnny (Downs) don't waste any time in getting to work. They pick up a hose and 'wash' the car, but all they do is end up spraying more and more ice all over it. When the owner sees what has happened, he promptly faints in the road. Mary and Jackie have joined Farina and Joe at the bakery grille on the sidewalk when they are called by the others. It's so cold outside that even a cat turns down a meal when a rat presents itsself! When the next showing of Santa at the store opens up, Joe makes the announcement that Santa is fake, so Mickey takes the Gang to see the shoemaker (whom everybody calls "Dad").
"Dad" tries to convince the kids that Santa is real, but the Gang remain skeptical. Johnny suggests that Mickey dress up as Santa in order to win over belief with their young friends. Mickey then discovers that standing on hot bricks will keep your feet warm and decides to try and sell the idea to passers-by to make some money. These include a beggar and a policeman, followed by several pedestrians (and a dog) who are then seen walking along the street with bricks attached to their shoes. We then see the Gang separately making their wishes for Christmas by communicating with Santa through their thoughts.
The second half of the film begins with a warehouse full of fake Santa impersonators dressing up to sell fake merchandise. Mickey and Johnny go out dressed as Santa and deliver Christmas presents they have made in their workshop. After climbing down the chimney and into the Gang's bedroom, the two boys sneak quietly plant the presents in the room. The fake Santas are operating in the same building and are seen by Mickey, who reports them to a policeman. The cop orders the fake Santa to fill Joe's stocking with some presents, which he does by stuffing two helium balloons in there. When Joe wakes up, the stocking floats off and into the street. Joe enlists the assistance of a policeman, who shoots the package down, revealing a toy monkey to be inside. Meanwhile, an inebriated Santa impersonator (Sam Lufkin) feeds his hooch to a mule dressed in antlers. Another 'bad Santa' skulks away into the building and eludes the police, whilst Farina and his sister rejoice in their new-found gifts. The group of Santas congregate on the roof of the building. Realising they are surrounded by the police, they choose to slide down the chimney and into the kids' room. One by one they are forced at gunpoint to leave some gifts in the room before leaving. The kids open their eyes to discover the heap of toys and their faith in Santa is restored.

Favourite bit
Farina sits on some steps and complains about feeling cold. "I wish I had something to cover me", he says. At that moment a sheet of snow is dislodged from the roof and falls down to "cover him". That'll teach you to complain!

Copyrighted January 23, 1926.
The 46th film in the series.
The film takes place on Christmas Eve. The opening intertitle card reads; "The Day before Christmas ~~ Down where poverty shakes hands with sorrow ~~ and they both smile."
There is a magnificent camera pan of the back-lot in the opening few shots, albeit hard to see through the fake snow.
The opening shot of Joe Cobb is not very flattering. He looks like a pig with a large snout. Later in the film when he sees 'Santa' in his bedroom, Joe does a very awkward forward somersault into his bed.
There is a very clumsy camera movement at around 5 minutes into the film where the owner of the car falls backwards after seeing his vehicle covered in icicles. The camera pans down afterwards, a few frames too late, thus missing the shot completely.
The shoemaker, whom the kids call "Dad" - is actually the real father of Mickey Daniels.
The sign Joe pins to the wall reads (translated): "Dear Santa, I ain't got no stocking, please put presents here".
When Mickey climbs up onto the roof to deliver the presents, his shadow is reflected in the background of the shot. This proves it was a set and not outdoors.
My opinion
Enjoyable entry in the series, with some visually interesting scenes, especially on the Back Lot, with it covered in snow.

Joe Cobb
Jackie Condon
Mickey Daniels
Johnny Downs
Allen Hoskins
Mary Kornman
Jay R. Smith
David Durand
Mary's brother
Jannie Hoskins
Richard Daniels
Al Hallett
Crooked Santa
Sam Lufkin
Inebriated Santa
Gene Morgan
First officer
L.J. O'Connor
Charlie Hall
Motorist/Crooked Santa
Martin Wolfkeil
Murphy, store janitor
(store window Santa)
The mule
Jack Ackroyd
Crooked Santa
Chet Brandenburg
Pedestrian/Crooked Santa
Ed Brandenburg
Store window assistant
Jack Gavin
Crooked Santa
Jack Hill
Wallace Howe
Crooked Santa
Jules Mendel
Crooked Santa
William Orlamond
Crooked Santa
Noah Young
Second officer

INTERTITLES (click image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner)
The Little Rascals: The Life And Times Of Our Gang by Leonard Maltin & Richard W. Bann (book)
Steve Massa (identification of LJ.O'Connor), and Richard W. Bann for the confirmation

This page was last updated on: 10 January 2023