starring Jackie Coogan and Wheeler Oakman
April 25, 1921

After Charles Chaplin had discovered the natural talent for pantomimic expression and the childish beauty of little Jackie Coogan, and with the appreciation and skill of an artist had made legitimate use of them in a genuine comedy, it was inevitable that the boy should become a prized theatrical property and be exploited for his box office value. When it was announced shortly after the release of "The Kid" that he was to be featured in "Peck's Bad Boy," there was nothing unexpected in the news. It was taken for granted that someone would feature him in something, and the indication that his role in the Chaplin comedy was to be imitated and extended was strictly according to custom. To have given him a different role, one in which he might have revealed new graces and developed his talent instead of performing tricks, would have required some originality and venturesomeness on the part of his promoters.

Neither this nor that the child should be kept off the screen awhile for his own good, was to be expreced, but some people were foolish enough to hope that at least his next picture would show him off pleasantly, as a naturally bright and beautiful little boy. But even this hope has been disappointed. "Peck's Bad Boy" is at the Strand this week, and it is dull and tedious. It is five or six reels in length, and all of the genuine humor and sentiment in it would fill less than a reel of film. The rest is just footage exposing old ideas worked over and labored efforts to make a fresh kid seem amusing. Poor little Jackie Coogan has been turned into a trick child with no more spontaneity than the trick dog which has been added to the picture to increase its quantity of cuteness. The result is depressing to those who love real children and real dogs.

Irvin S. Cobb wrote the subtitles. At least the program says so, but it is hard to believe, unless the explanation is that Mr. Cobb sought to satirize the picture by putting absurd words into the mouth of an incredibly mechanical five-year old. The production was directed by Sam Wood.

Also on the Strand program is "Catching a Coon," the second of the series of pictures entitled "The Adventures of Bill and Bob."

starring Jackie Coogan and Wheeler Oakman
August, 1921

When Jackie Coogan manifestd the budding genius which he so undoubtedly manifested with Chaplin in "The Kid," it was to be expected that someone would come along and star him in a perfectly impossible story which would demand his doing every cute thing imaginable before the fade-out. "Peck's Bad Boy" does just this ­ it is a series of jerky incidents, with Jackie playing all sorts of unpleasant pranks upon grown-ups and acting and thinking in a most sophisticated manner.

The art of Jackie is not belied in this production ­ every now and then there is a flash of the same artistic value which was found in "The Kid," but even this cannot save the production ­ there is no plot interest, and the action is entirely lacking in naturalness and interest.

Video availability: Movies Unlimited, Grapevine, Foothill, Critic's Choice

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