Their toy store having been destroyed by
Petie the Pup in
For Pete's Sake, William Wagner and his "son" reemerge in the
sidewalk diner business. This time, the two clearly drawn meanies
are doing their best (their worst) to crowd competition off the block.
The "competition takes the form of a tiny portable lemonade stand run by
Scotty Beckett and his grandpa, Gus. Chasing their stand off the
corner, bratty Leonard Kibrick snarls, "Get that thing out of here," at
which the outsized Spanky retorts, "Don't rush me, Big Boy." Now
with their dander up, the gang comes to Grandpa's aid. They stage
a makeshift parade and succeed in gathering a crowd of potential
customers in front of the stand's new location. Somehow, Alfalfa's
off-key rendition of "Little Brown Jug" holds everyone's
attention, building to a rousing, crowd-pleasing confrontation with the
miserly father and son, highlighted by a scalp-massaging apparatus stuck
down Leonard's trousers, forcing him to bounce around on his rear end in
time with "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
A frequent theme throughout Gus
Meins-directed Rascals shorts is one of irreverence for
pretentious people, and few illustrate the concept of upsetting stuffed
shirts as well as this film. Fast-paced, slick, and funny, The
Lucky Corner typifies
Our Gang at its best: a simple but solid story augmented by
comedy that's warm and gentle, witty and visual, and timeless in its
appeal. Spanky and Alfalfa divide a lot of the laughs, but
Buckwheat also wins his share, and with practically no dialogue.
His expressive yet deadpan reactions let one know exactly what he's
thinking, even if he can't manage to say it. The production staff
rigged up some action gags for him, too, and throughout the short
(punctuated by a slide whistle in the background) we see him scooting
down the sidewalks on cakes of ice, whipping around a barber pole, and
zipping through a crowd beneath their legs.
When ol' Gus gets run off his corner,
Buckwheat's dad, a bootblack, is more than happy to share space with the
little lemonade stand, assuring Gus, "Yes, there's room enough for the
both of us." Thus it's another alliance of underdogs:
blacks, Grandpa, and a bunch of cheerful and helpful kids, all battling
"big" business and a crotchety, conceited miser who seems to have the
law on his side.
Later, when Gus discovers he's out of sugar
for his lemonade mix, Buckwheat's dad offers help again. He sends
Buckwheat upstairs with a bowl to bring back the necessary sugar.
That he climbs up on the stool and fills the bowl with starch instead of
sugar is funny enough, but there's an inside joke that makes the gag
doubly amusing. If you watch enough Hal Roach comedies, you begin
to wonder about the products with labels showing they're from companies
in Elmira, New York. The name crops up with amazing regularity.
In this particular scene, the bags of sugar and starch both come from "3
Star Mfg. Co.," in where else but Elmira, New York. Why this
devotion to Elmira, New York? It just happened to be Hal Roach's
The unbeatable Roach stock company makes a
hearty contribution to The Lucky Corner, as well. With all
the sour lemonade, many of them get a chance to demonstrate a specialty
for spit-takes (a time-honored comedy standby wherein a shock of some
kind caused the actor to spit out and spray whatever he's drinking).
One Roach regular, Lester Dorr, apparently answered two calls for this
film, since he shows up in various scenes wearing different suits of
clothes! Maybe the continuity girl was out getting a lemonade.
Another potential source of confusion:
The Lucky Corner was released one full year after it was
completed; it must have puzzled audiences to see Scotty Beckett back in
the gang after he'd left for feature roles.