Series: Snub Pollard

Director: Craig Hutchinson
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker

Stars: Snub Pollard, Marie Mosquini, James Finlayson, Vera White, William Gillespie
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 29 April 1923
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: B-9
Filming dates: August 25 - September 11, 1922; October 23 and December 19-21, 1922
Rating: 5/10

California Or Bust!

Available on DVD:

It's pandemonium on a remote farm when a huge storm hits and a dozen work hands run for cover to take shelter in the cellar. Lightning strikes the ground and causes fires. Snub is sleeping in a hammock on the porch as the intense wind tears the house in half and lifts it away into oblivion. His wife, Marie Mosquini, emerges from the storm cellar to find the only thing left standing is Snub in the hammock. As she fans him down with a newspaper Snub reads in it that the California sun is so bright, the birds wear blinkers and the oranges grow as big as punchbags. They head to Corn Cob City and hire a truck in order to run their new business. As Marie drives, Snub is in the back trying to play billiards on a table using a bent stick as a cue and avacados as balls, which he eats.
Marie drives the truck and all of its trailers to a sudden halt when she encounters a toll booth up ahead. When asked to pay the fee she distracts the operator (William Gillespie) by walking him over to a nearby field with a horse so that Snub can lift the toll barrier and move their various trailers through the gate without paying. Just as Snub and Marie claim a small victory, a tractor coming the other way down the lane accidentally hooks its chain onto the back of their rear trailer and pulls them back over the poll booth line, so it means they have to pay the toll. They continue their journey and stop to ask for directions at a farm up the road.
A clumsy and distracted worker who is sawing through a piece of wood severs the trailers when he unwittingly cuts through a plank holding them together. Marie drives off and loses the roof of the truck under a low bridge before a collision with a passing lorry at an intersection spills their load all over onto the road. Snub gets up assumes the position of driver. He doesn't get far before a punctured tire stops them in the most convenient of spots - right opposite a garage. As Snub and Marie run into the garage to buy a new wheel, a clumsy driver crashes into the back of their stationary car, sending it into a ditch. He goes to get assistance as Snub and Marie return to the scene and fit their new wheel on what they think is their car (mistaking it for the car of the clumsy driver).
Snub inflates the new tire with the use of a foot pump which he somehow manages to get entangled in before dropping the car off the jack and onto his foot. After some strenuous pumping of the tire, the real owner of the vehicle returns and drives his car away as Snub and Marie realise their car is in fact the one in a ditch further up the road! They drive to a camp site, where James Finlayson has just got through having an argument with a cat (seriously!) The car rips off Finlayson's tent and exposes him sitting in a bath. After briskly getting dressed, Fin marches over and aggressively reclaims his tent from the back of Snub's car before following him into a tent armed with a two-by-four. This leads to an altercation between Fin and his wife against Snub and Marie.
That evening Snub and Marie pitch up the two smallest tents you have ever seen, only big enough to crawl into. As Snub dreams of smelling oranges there is a whole other smell in camp as a skunk finds its way into Fin's tent, causing him and his wife to make a hasty exit. A sneezing man blows away Snub and Marie's tents (if that's what you call them) so the couple take refuge in Fin's now-vacant tent instead. Snub climbs inside a sleeping bag only to discover the skunk has beat him to it and a violent struggle ensues. Next morning a burial service is conducted to the memory of a camping outfit and two suits before they leave camp and head for California. No sooner than when they cross the state line does it begin snowing.
The car gets stuck in the mud and Snub has to push it out and drive to Orange Grove Ranch. Snub jumps out and begins picking oranges from a tree. He is quickly asked to leave, courtesy of an orange picker's shotgun! Further down the road Snub and Marie encounter Indians surrounding a passing stage wagon. They drive into a small western town and inform the sheriff of "a horrible massacre" taking place and a group of cowboys rush to the scene. Crawling on all fours across the hilly plains, Snub leads the way for the cowboys but soon realises the Indians are part of a movie which is being shot. The film crew furiously throw a tantrum and run Snub and Marie out of Gumbo county as the couple escape on two horses.

Favourite bit
When you initially see this you think James Finlayson is strangling his wife. Look closer.... A great gag.

Copyrighted April 27, 1923.
Also listed for June 13, 1920.
The DVD available from Looser Than Loose is missing a considerable amount of footage (approximately 8 minutes). Around 2:30 into the film after the intertitle card reads, "California or bust ~ probably bust!" the DVD cuts to Snub and Marie sitting on the ground after their car has crashed. There is 8 minutes of footage missing between these two points which is available for viewing elsewhere.
The story takes place in Twister Township - County of Thunder and Lightning.
The film's title can be seen on the side of the wagon.
The toll booth for each car is 50 cents. But because of the numerous trailers Marie's truck is carrying, the fee is $2.50. Don't you just hate toll booths?
As the tractor hooks up the back of the trailer and pulls it with the chain down the lane, we never see it untangle itself, yet the tractor carries on driving.
At least one print of the film uses an intertitle card to say the small farm where Snub and Marie stop to ask directions is in Kansas. Kansas and cyclones have a bit of history, don't they?
When we first see Snub shooting pool in the truck he is using a bent stick as a cue but after he ends up in the road later on he is holding a proper pool cue.
When Snub and Marie are using the foot pump together with their backs to the stranger's car there is an element of unrealism to the scene. In order for them to pump any air into a tire there would have to have been pressure on the pump to transfer the air to the tire. If there was no air going into the tire they would have realised this because of the weight of air being transferred. If you pump up a ball with a foot pump you can feel that the air is going in by the amount of pressure you have to apply to the pump. If you felt no pressure then it would mean no air is being pumped into it. Oh, you know what I mean! Also, if the pump was attached to the car tire then how was it the driver of the car was able to simply drive off without first disconnecting the pump? Am I overthinking this?
James Finlayson's first scene in the film is on 11 minutes. In fact look out for it closely because it is a great gag. He appears to be strangling his woman but when you look closer she is in fact doing it herself. Very clever.
The camp site fee is 25 cents per day.
At the funeral, the headstone reads "Sacred to the memory of one camping outfit and two almost new suits".
What does Marie Mosquini look like with that cap on? I mean, come on!
My opinion

Snub Pollard
The old settler
Marie Mosquini
The wife
James Finlayson
Campground neighbor
Vera White
Campground neighbor's wife
William Gillespie
Toll booth operator
Sam Lufkin
Sneezing camper/
Assistant director
Ed Brandenburg
Farmhand struck by lightning/
Man on toll gate/
Jack Hill
Farmhand who swats Ed Brandenburg's rear/
Jack O'Brien
Motorist with flat tire/Posse
Wallace Howe
Actor in caravan
Charles Stevenson
Sheriff of Gumbo County
Chet Brandenburg

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Jesse Brisson (identification of Sam Lufkin, Ed Brandenburg, Jack Hill, Jack O'Brien, Wallace Howe, Charles Stevenson, Chet Brandenburg)
Steve Massa, Brent Walker, Richard W. Bann (confirmation of Vera White's identity)

This page was last updated on: 29 April 2023