The plot is simple: cute, loveable, and precocious Skippy must save Shantytown and its residents from emminent destruction initiated by his own father, the town physician, who's recommended the eradication of the vermin and germ-infested ramshackle town. Along the way, he meets Sooky, a resident of Shantytown whose hidden dog has been taken away by the dogcatcher, Mr. Nubbins, because he‚??s an unlicensed pet (as a result of another directive from Skippy's father, Dr. Skinner). Hilarity and adventure ensue as Skippy and Sooky come up with fun and inventive ways to raise the $3.00 necessary to free Penny the Dog from Mr. Nubbins. Somewhere along the way, between the magic show and the trips to the pound, this little film becomes quite an affecting piece as the protagonist finds himself complicit in the shuffling of the poor, destitute denizens of the Shantytown he loves more than his own stable, opulent dwelling.
Reminiscent of the saving of the destitute man-cum-gentleman in My Man Godfrey, this film takes the plight of Depression-starved America and figures it into the backdrop and plot of the story thus elevating the film from a cute comic delight to something with a little more social and historical relevance. It puts a face on the poor and panders to the idea that every little kindness helps in the face of adversity, blurring the line between the "haves" and the "have-nots". And it accomplishes all this without becoming treacly and overly-sentimental. The sound quality is great for such an old film. The picture jiggles a little in the beginning, possibly from being warped at one point, but there's never that tinny quality that overwhelms some of the early talkies.
Jackie Cooper is an absolute delight as the title character, Skippy, and his chemisty with Robert Coogan (who plays new best buddy, Sooky) is very believable. Coogan almost upstages Cooper at times turning in a great supporting performance (I actually thought he was little girl in the beginning when he says his name three times!). Cooper‚??s standout scene takes place at Mr. Nubbins‚?? when Skippy slowly learns of his own family‚??s implications in the tragedy that occurs toward the end of the film. Sentimental or not, you might just shed a tear.
Mitzi Green is hilarious as Eloise. Her comic timing is impeccable and she enthusiastically inhabits her role.
Norman Taurog (who was Jackie Cooper‚??s uncle) won an Oscar for his direction and Cooper himself was nominated at ten years old making him, to this day, the youngest male actor nominated in the lead acting category.
Hard to find, but well worth checking out.