Cast & Crew
Robert F Mcgowan
Jay R. Smith
A gang of kids attempt to rescue their beloved pooch from the dogcatcher in this silent short comedy.
Robert F Mcgowan
Jay R. Smith
C. E. Christensen
William A. Collins
Timothy J O'donnell
H. M. Walker
Love My Dog
The stars of the two-reeler are Farina, the African-American boy played by Allen Hoskins, and Joe Cobb, the chubby boy played by himself. The opening scene shows Farina getting interrupted twice while munching on a turkey leg - the first time by a friendly neighborhood dog who wants to share the snack, and the second time by a friendly neighborhood ventriloquist who plays a trick on Farina, making a voice seem to speak from the mutt's muzzle. "You must 'a' swallowed a parrot," says Farina, scratching his head in wonder.
The next episode starts when Joe gets the bright idea of entering the pooch in a show, attaching feathers to his tail and calling him a bird-dog. The kids arrange the show themselves, charging two cents or ten marbles for admission. A boy even serves as veterinarian, explaining that one dog has a case of "runt-o pup-o", to use the Latin term.
Everyone is having fun until the city posts a notice saying that due to a hydrophobia epidemic, all unvaccinated dogs will be apprehended by dogcatchers and "exterminated by gas" to preserve the public health. The treatment costs five dollars, which is more than the gang can afford for its many canines, so the kids decide to slip past the authorities by putting their dogs in disguise. This is far and away the funniest part of the film, featuring pooches decked out with eyeglasses, false beards, fake fur and other items, including an elegant pipe for one of them.
The tale gets more dramatic when Farina's canine friend rescues a toddler - the only girl in this male-dominated picture - from the ledge of a building high above the street. But this heroism doesn't stop the dogcatcher from swooping in with his net, and the dog winds up in the municipal gas chamber where he will die if the gang can't raise money and get to the dog pound fast. Who says an Our Gang comedy can't have heart-pounding suspense? Things come out all right in the surprise ending, and the audience gets to help; stealing a gimmick from Peter Pan, the movie tells viewers to clap! clap!! clap!!! if they want to save the endangered pooch. William Castle, the most gimmick-friendly filmmaker of all time, would surely have applauded this lively stunt.
Love My Dog was made in 1927, five years after Roach launched Our Gang and two years before he converted the franchise from silent films to talkies. This was also the year when Roach moved the series from its original distributor, Pathé, to MGM, which took over production from Roach's own studio in 1938 and finally discontinued the hugely popular line in 1944. The title of the series changed from Our Gang to Little Rascals when the pictures made at Roach's facility began airing on television in the 1950s, and that has confused fans ever since. Splitting the difference, the opening titles of Love My Dog now read as follows: "Our Gang" Comedies / Hal Roach / Presents / His Rascals / in / "Love My Dog" / Pathécomedy. That clears the matter up. Somewhat.
Unlike most Our Gang pictures, Love My Dog merits a couple of mild warnings for parents with very young children. When the dogcatcher wrestles the dog into his net after the high-rise rescue, Farina watches in horror, and director Robert F. McGowan shows his reaction in a remarkably long take, capturing the little boy's anguished reaction so vividly that you have to wonder if the filmmakers enhanced Hoskins's excellent acting by actually scaring him while the camera rolled. This might be upsetting for a small child to watch, and the same goes for the canine gas-chamber scene, which has an inadvertent echo of the Holocaust that the filmmakers couldn't have anticipated in 1927.
Those caveats aside, Love My Dog is a spirited entertainment with spunky kids and plucky pooches galore. Like the canine exhibition staged by the gang, it's a grate dog show.
Director: Robert F. McGowan
Producer: Hal Roach
Screenplay: Hal Roach
Cinematographers: William A. Collins, Art Lloyd, Len Powers
With: Allen Hoskins (Farina), Joe Cobb (Joe), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Scooter Lowry (Scooter), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Clifton Young (Bonedust)
by David Sterritt