Featured Film for August, 2000

"Peck's Bad Boy"


First National

Jackie Coogan (Henry Peck), Wheeler Oakman (Dr. Jack Martin), James Corrigan (Mr. Peck), Lillian Leighton (Mrs. Peck), Doris May (Letty Peck), Charles Hatton (Buddy), Raymond Hatton (grocer).

Henry Peck is well-known, actually infamous, throughout the community as "Peck's Bad Boy." He's known for constantly getting into mischief, so much so that when something bad happens, the townpeople all agree ­ "I'll bet that Peck's son did this!!"

When he visits the site of the circus that has just come to town, Henry, along with his friend, Buddy, let a man-eating lion out of his cage. Henry's father's hears of this and denies the boy any money to go to the circus. However, Henry develops a plan to "extort" some circus money from his father. He sends a note to his father which says, "Dear Mr. Peck, It is very important that you meet me in the candy store at once, Daisy M." Henry dresses Buddy up as the girl, and he goes into the candy store with a handkerchief to his face as if crying. As Mr. Peck tries to console this unknown "lady," Henry ambles in fully confident his father will want to get rid of him right away. He does by giving his son a silver dollar. Unfortunately, Mrs. Peck happens on the scene, and Henry's ruse is revealed, much to Mr. Peck's anger and Mrs. Peck's amusement.

Henry's father is financing an inventor and his invention at great cost, and the plans are finally delivered to the house. Curious, Henry takes the envelope containing the plans and is studying it when the new doctor, Jack Martin, walks in. Quickly putting the envelope behind his back, he begins talking to the doctor. Soon, Mrs. Peck also comes in, and Henry realizes he must not get caught with his father's envelope, so he stuffs it in the doctor's pocket without him realizing it.

Jack and Henry's sister, Letty, are sweethearts, and, later, as they talk, she pushes the envelope further down into his pocket without giving any thought as to what it may be.

That night, a burglar comes in the house, and puts Mr. Peck's study in disarray. The next morning, when the plans can't be found, he immediately assumes the burglar took them and calls the police. After Mr. Peck gives a description of the envelope to the police, Letty realizes that the envelope in Jack's pocket is the same one.

Jack has told Letty he is leaving town for a few days, so the police and the whole Peck family converge on the train station. Although Jack is arrested, Henry comes to save the day. To escape his father's wrath over the whole incident, Henry jumps on a railroad hand cart and speeds down the track. What he doesn't know is a train is bearing down on him, so now it's up to Jack to save the day.

copyright 2000 by Tim Lussier, all rights reserved

The copy reviewed is the Paul Killiam version from a Pioneer laserdisc. The quality is good, although at times scratchy, and the piano score by William Perry is excellent.

Video availability: (Length of the video is as advertised by the distributor)

Movies Unlimited - 65 min., $19.99

Grapevine - 59 min, $14.95

Critic's Choice - 70 min., $19.95

"Peck's Bad Boy" commentary

Scenes from the Movie

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copyright 2000 by Tim Lussier, all rights reserved