A LAD AN’ A LAMP (1932)
Article 5339 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
Featuring Matthew ‘Stymie’ Beard, Dorothy DeBorba, Bobby ‘Wheezer’ Hutchins
What it is: “Our Gang” short with monkey.
The Our Gang kids believe they have stumbled across Aladdin’s lamp.
This short has the reputation of being one of the funniest ones from the “Our Gang” series, and it is pretty amusing. However, even though it was originally released uncut for TV syndication, it was eventually cut severely and then dropped from the package altogether. This was due to some noticeable racial stereotyping in the episode; check out Stymie’s wishes when he’s trying out a lamp for examples, but the most glaring one is when Spanky wishes that a young black boy named Cotton would turn into a monkey and comments that “all he needs is a tail”. Most of the story hinges on that last wish, as a chimp escapes from a show and appears in front of the kids after Cotton runs off. Pretty much the rest of the short gets its humor from chimp antics, though I find the sequences where various incidents occur in tandem with their wishing on the lamp (some of them engineered by eavesdropping adults) to be the best parts. As might be expected, the lamp isn’t really magic, so it’s a little dodgy as far as the fantastic content is concerned, though throwing a magician into the mix helps a bit.