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  • Frankie Darro and Mantan Moreland (a gifted and underrated comedian) teamed up for a series of B movies. These movies were always entertaining even with their thin and sometimes silly plots. In this entry, Frankie is an odd job assistant/soda jerk in the small upstate NY town of Midvale drug store. Mantan (as yet once again playing a character named "Jefferson") is Frankie's good pal and a porter at the local hotel. One day at the drugstore a known gangster "Hype Inness" who has just been shot comes in to use the phone. He opens the booth door tells Frankie and Jefferson that he has a message for Smilin Bill (another big time gangster) but before he can relate the message, he falls over dead. Well, the town is inundated with reporters and assorted thugs, including Smilin Bill. A special investigator thinks that the message Hype was going to convey was the whereabouts of $300,000 of stolen bank money. Frankie is a bit of a screw up with some harebrained schemes and at one point tells Jefferson " You know Jefferson, I've been thinking." Jefferson replies "Uh, oh." I like the camaraderie between Frankie and Jefferson and the humor and silliness of the movies. The one thing I didn't care for was Frankie trying to imitate Jefferson's accent - too dated and not particularly funny.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The team of Frankie Darro and Mantan Moreland may not have taken the box office by storm like Hope and Crosby, Abbott and Costello, or even Wheeler and Woolsey, but in their string of Monogram comedies, they make a unique pair. Darro, the Ralph Macchio of his day, aged about a year in the period of a decade, and while not like Leo Gorcey of the Bowery Boys series (whom his early film roles obviously inspired), he is indeed sincere, charming and funny, even if he is pretty much a one-note actor. Moreland, the wide-eyed "sidekick", is the stereotypically cowardly black man (named Jefferson, after the president no less, another stereotypical detail for similar black characters of the time), but underneath the wide eyes and protests of fear is actually a closet brave man. When push comes to shove, he always stands tall, even if his brains seem to be telling his feet to run. Try not to roll your eyes as you laugh when he responds to a skeleton utilized in one comic scene with "If he's gonna associate with me, hes gotta put on some skin!".

    "On the Spot" has the two opposites trying to solve the murder of several gangsters killed right in front of Darro at the pharmacy he works at. Before long, this "Magic Town" has been overtaken by big city reporters, and one in particular (Mary Korman) is determined to get the story. Wrapped up in only an hour, there's plenty of cheap laughs to keep the audience glued, and Darro allows Moreland to take the bulk of them, as if knowing that their pairing enhanced his blundering character and made him seem better.
  • 1940 marked a last for some Our Gang members. Besides Tommy "Butch" Bond, Darwood "Waldo" Kaye, and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer leaving the series that year, early silent OG member Mary Kornman made her last movie as well, this one. She plays the girlfriend of Frankie Darro who works at her father's drug store as a soda jerk though he has ambitions of being a scientist so he also experiments occasionally there. Mantan Moreland plays his buddy who reluctantly is roped into some of his plans when a couple of gangsters get shot in the store...Okay, Ms. Kornman plays the kind of leading lady role that has her either getting upset when Frankie doesn't pay enough attention to her or showing concern for him when he's down or in a little danger. Still, it was nice seeing her in her last role here. Mantan plays the stereotypical role of the scared black man though he only mentions being scared since there isn't any scene that calls for him to scream or act really petrified. I did like his wisecrack about a skeleton's teeth and similar comments and when he's called to do something he goes through with it despite his reluctance, so there's that. All in all, On the Spot was a nice time-filler and is worth a look for any Our Gang fans wanting to see some of their members outside of the series.