Series: Our Gang

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

Stars: Jean Darling, Allen Hoskins, Joe Cobb, Jay R, Smith, Jackie Condon, Harry Spear, Bobby Hutchins
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 07 April 1928
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: G-8
Filming dates: December 21, 1927 - January 9, 1928
Rating: 6/10

Barnum & Ringling, Inc.

Available on DVD:

The Ritz-Biltmore Hotel caters for families, children and pets where a newlywed couple arrive to celebrate their marriage. The gang are also at the hotel trying to brighten up the place by turning it into a circus, with an assortment of animals which they smuggle in via the service elevator. When asked what mischief they are up to they reply they are discussing Sunday school. The hotel manager advises a detective to keep an eye on the kids as they have been quiet for an hour. Meanwhile, Jean (Darling) is in bed being waited on by her housemaid. Down in the lobby where the kids are hanging out the desk clerk rings the bell to signal his needed assistance, and a reluctant Farina obliges.
The young girl cheekily informs Farina that one day he can be her private chauffeur. He tells her that if she continues sticking him with pins she will never grow up. The two of them spot a pin on the floor. He makes a run for it as she bends down to pick it up. Out in the corridor the kids run past a flirtatious man with a maid. When her back is turned she gets pricked by Jean. Of course the lady doesn't see what happened and naturally thinks the man 'stabbed' her, so attacks him. The kids assemble in a different corridor where Joe warns Jean that if she continues with her pin-stabbing routine then she can not be part of the circus. When he turns his back she stabs him too. The kids confirm they have an audience ready and willing and soon invite them to come flooding into the hotel when the way is clear.
On the stage the children are shown the 'exhibts' such as Little Egypt and Little Casino (two of the kids dressed up). As the tour progresses the audience are introduced to a variety of comically arranged animals. The audience are then seated for the grand spectacle of a circus act featuring children performing in a ring, performing a variety of acts. Jean is introduced as Madamozelle Rhubarba, as she rides into the arena on the donkey as one of the children attaches a rope from her to the blade of an overhead electric fan (a very risky stunt for the day especially as it involves a young child - they probably wouldn't get away with that today). One of the kids then throws the switch and Jean goes spinning around the ceiling as the hotel detective (why did they need him I wonder?) enters the room.
The children scatter out into the corridor (well, apart from the poor girl who is left spinning around) as the detective follows after them. As he begins to tell them off he is rammed by the animals who have escaped. The assortment of animals scatter throughout the hotel, scaring two black janitors and the young newlyweds in their room as well as their maid (an extremely brief appearance by Edna Marion). In the corridor a previously unseen 'giraff' (an emu it would seem) walks by a couple of ladies chatting in a doorway and gives one of them a nip on the backside before attacking one of the black men. Soon after there is chaos with all the hotel guests being invaded, attacked and menaced by the animals. The emu/giraffe wanders into the bathroom of one of the guests (a hilarious cameo from Oliver Hardy, no less) as he is intoxicated from drinking. Looking in the mirror he notices the enormous bird, does a double-take then goes stiff and faints, falling backwards (it's a good scene!) The alcoholic drink spills into the wash basin as the bird pecks at it causing it to become under the influence also. Mayhem continues throughout the hotel as the kids run down the stairs and hide. The lobby is soon filled with birds, animals and guests as total chaos ensues. It finally comes to an end as the hotel manager, detective (Eugene Pallette seen very briefly) and the children laughing at the now-drunk emu hic-cupping.

Favourite bit
The long sequence of animals being paraded as part of the children's show is really good. An assortment of animals dressed up to resemble other animals whilst wearing various items of clothing, props and other random objects is quite ingenious albeit primitive for its day. The best of these I think is the 'kangaroo' in which two rabbits are placed in such a position they do look quite funny.

Copyrighted April 7, 1928.
The 74th film in the series.
This was the first film in the series to have a synchronized musical and sound-effects track.
It would be another 11 years before Hardy would appear in a film without Laurel.
At the time of filming, Oliver Hardy, Dorothy Coburn and Edna Marion were simultaneously making From Soup To Nuts.
The title is a parody on a real American circus group called Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Jean Darling is in room 215.
There are four hand-written signs (all with spelling errors) in the corridor that read; "Fresh lemonade", "Mane entrance", "Menagery" and "Tiket offiz".
Edna Marion's entire performance lasts 2 seconds as the maid who enters the newlyweds room, sees the donkey then runs out again.
Do you get the feeling that some of those animals were thrown down the stairs?
The beautiful Dorothy Coburn has a cameo as the woman who is oblivious to the chicken who drops the egg down the back of her dress before she sits on it.
The animals are arranged on the stage as two rabbits positioned in such a way that they resemble a 'kangaroo'.  A rattlesnake (with rat on the end of a long tube), a stork (a blackbird on stilts), a pelican (a duck with an egg around its neck), a peacock (duck with random feathers protruding from its body), a moose (donkey made up with various items including blown up rubber gloves), a snapping turtle (what looks like a dead parrot wearing a derby hat!), an african lion (the dog wearing a fur around its neck), an Arizona beaver (a cat with a hot water bottle), a 'raindeer' (dog with antlers), an 'alleygater' (sausage dog wearing a mack), 'artick seal' (same sausage dog wearing a pullover and a hot water bottle), single humped camel (a goat with a derby hat), a double humped camel (same as before but with the predictably-added second hat), a 'rinorsoris' and young (three pigs with baseball bats as noses), and finally a wild cow from 'barneo' (a dog wearing a coat, horns and a balloon for an udder).
My opinion
Average, with some clever animal disguises.

Jean Darling
Allen Hoskins
Joe Cobb
Jay R. Smith
Jackie Condon
Harry Spear
Bobby Hutchins
Paul Toien
Boy acrobat
Bobby Dean
Little Egypt
Andy Shuford
Dorothea Wolbert
Cleaning lady
Charlie King
Newlywed husband
William Gillespie
Hotel manager
Oliver Hardy
Startled drunk
Dorothy Coburn
Lady who sits on egg
George B. French
Desk clerk
Curtis McHenry
Elevator operator
Martin Turner
May Wallace
Ham Kinsey
Lobby guest
Charles Millsfield
Toothless Frenchman
Clara Guiol
Hysterical hotel guest
Eric Mayne
Bearded man in bed
Lillian Leighton
Woman with goose
Eugene Pallette
Hotel detective
Hayes Robertson
Laughing black man
Edna Marion
Symona Boniface
Hotel guest
Evelyn Burns
Hotel guest


(click any 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)
Lou Sabini (identification of May Wallace and Symona Boniface)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Charles King)
Steve Rydzewski (identification of Dorothea Wolbert)
Peter Mikkelsen (title card)

This page was last updated on: 22 July 2022