Buster Brown gets upset when Mary Janes invites him to a party and she gives all her attention to a new boy. Mary Jane is upset because Buster got upset. Tige sets out to get Buster back in ... Read allBuster Brown gets upset when Mary Janes invites him to a party and she gives all her attention to a new boy. Mary Jane is upset because Buster got upset. Tige sets out to get Buster back in Mary Jane's good graces. A piece of tobacco in a candy sack seems like a good idea.Buster Brown gets upset when Mary Janes invites him to a party and she gives all her attention to a new boy. Mary Jane is upset because Buster got upset. Tige sets out to get Buster back in Mary Jane's good graces. A piece of tobacco in a candy sack seems like a good idea.
Whatever the reason for it's demise, the biggest factor in the forgotten series today is simply because most of the films have vanished from view. The few films that survive give the modern viewer a clear reason why it lasted for five years and also why the Our Gang Films are generally superior but not always better than it's competitors.
A wonderful example of the difference is Buster's Mix Up, a wonderful Buster Brown Comedy made in 1926, released by Universal and made by the Stern Brothers for Century. The star, Arthur Trimble, is a very good young actor and that's what makes the Our Gang films so appealing; the kids from the gang seem like real kids whereas Trimble's Brown is polished and distinct. When the kids in Our Gang work a scene, it seems like real life - almost as if we are eavesdropping on them. Trimble is a wonderful actor who knows where the camera is placed and knows how to deliver an expression dead on. It's a different kind of film than Our Gang yet it retains a certain kind of charm that most other kiddie series lack.
Buster's Mix up may feature Trimble as the star but the real knockout is Pete the Pup who portrayed Tige the Dog in the entire run of the series. Here in this one short you can see precisely why Hal Roach wanted the dog for his series. No canine ever worked so well in comedy movies. As Tige, Pete was required to wear a black circle around his right eye. By the time he was hired for the Our Gang Series, while concurrently working on Buster Brown, the ring around his eye became impossible to wash off. So wonderful was the dog, the studio bosses at Roach decided to let him appear in the shorts with the black ring, he was that good.
In Buster's Mix Up, he gets the lion share of the screen time. At Roach he would never be allowed this much time for plot, save for a few films but in the Buster Browns, he always was the comic saving grace. Here, he keeps plot and comedic devices moving at a pace that even Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd would have been respectful of. Much of the credit has to go to its director, Gus Meins, best remembered for his work with Our Gang in the 1930's. The direction and cutting is excellent and Pete comes across as one of the biggest laugh getters in the silent era. You may bark at that remark (and the bad pun) but if you see this picture, you will find it completely true. Pete is a gem. From rescuing a baby in a pram to ordering chocolates in a confectionery shop to patching up Buster and Mary Jane's relationship, Pete is the real hero of the Buster Brown comedies.
A surviving print of Buster's Mix up was located in the British Isles and delivered to the states in 2007. The print, in very good shape but still in need of some preservation, was privately screened on May 30th. 2007 and brought the small house down. This series needs rediscovery and if anyone knows of any prints, they should contact me because it deserves to be given its proper place in film history.
- May 30, 2007