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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Skippy (1931)



Reviews and Comments

Here's a movie that will break your heart and warm it at the same time, all while making you laugh. I wanted to give this movie a hug, although for different reasons at different points. The thick layer of sentimentality makes it seem dated today, but in a way that reflects more poorly on modern society than on this film.

Young Jackie Cooper plays the title character, and the film is successful largely because of his amazing performance. Norman Taurog's simple direction, which won him an Oscar, is also crucial: rather than trying to punch up the humor or drama, he keeps the camera on the performances and stays out of their way. It's an approach that requires confidence in the material and the actors, to observe unblinkingly and forego the safety net of musical cues that tell us how to feel or fancy camera movements that would distract us from any story weakness (a great tracking shot up the stairs notwithstanding). That confidence is warranted. This is a wonderful film.