The Hollywood Kid (Mack Sennett, 1924)
A screenwriter (Vernon Dent) is trying to pitch a new screenplay to Mack Sennett (himself), who tells him that he’ll make the picture on the condition that the right child actor can be found to play the lead. They find a four or five year old kid playing baseball who somehow manages to lose his pants on the field, hide inside a barrel, and then lose the barrel (Jackie Lucas). He’s just the ticket, they agree, as they rush back to Mack Sennett Studios to get a contract drawn up. A spy from a rival studio (Billy Bevan) is in the room when they return and learns of their hot new discovery. What ensues is a race between the Sennett man and the spy, each hoping to reach the boy’s father (Charles Murray) first and get the kid signed on. Also, a big rolling boulder – at one point, they’re chased by a big, rolling boulder.
It isn’t my style of comedy, but the film is a great behind-the-scenes look at Mack Sennett Studios, including the cyclorama used to shoot cartoon-style chase scenes, where the actors run on what’s essentially a treadmill while a giant circular mural spins behind them. I found it interesting in that regard. Sennett’s world-weary nonchalance, not even batting an eye when a lion enters the room and jumps on his desk, was really the only thing I found funny as far as the narrative goes.
My rating: Meh.