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Film / Pecks Bad Boy

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Horace and Bill

Peck's Bad Boy is a 1934 American drama film directed by Edward F. Cline. It was based on the series of books by George W. Peck. In particular the story, "Peck's Bad Boy and his Pa" from 1883.

The film stars Jackie Cooper , Thomas Meighan, Jackie Searl and Dorothy Peterson.

The movie is about Bill Peck, a 10 year old boy with a very strong relationship with his father. His mother has passed away, so his aunt Lily and her son Horace move in to help raise Bill.

Horace and Lily mistreat Bill because he is adopted and they do not consider him family. Horace frames Bill for various misdeeds while Lily isolates Bill by firing the maid and groundskeeper, both of whom Bill was close to.

Bill's life soon becomes a living hell, as Horace begins to steal his possessions and his father away from him, all while bullying him for being adopted.


Henry finally figures out what's been going on when Horace gives Bill a bloody nose, and kicks Lily and Horace out.


  • Adaptational Heroism: Henry Peck is much kinder in this film than he is in the books.
  • Adoption Angst: Bill at first refuses to believe his cousin's claim he was adopted. After studying himself in the mirror and concluding he looks nothing like his father, he becomes extremely depressed.
  • Adoption Diss: Horace constantly does this to Bill.
    Not bad, for someone who comes from an orphan asylum.
  • Ant Assault: Horace puts Bill's pet ants in Henry's coat, causing a scene in church when they finally crawl from the buttonhole to his skin.
  • The Bully: Horace.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: How Horace is able to manipulate the adults around him. Except for Martha and Duffy, the hired help who see right through him.
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  • Happily Adopted: Bill, by the end. He accepts he is adopted and is happy with the idea that his parents picked him out, as apposed to being stuck with him if he were their biological child.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Martha, who Bill is friends with and confides in.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Horace continuously taunts Bill while he's trying to do his homework. Saying he is stupid because he's an orphan. When Bill finally tries to stand up for himself, Horace punches him in the face and gives him a bloody nose.
  • Mammy: The maid, Martha.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Bill had no idea he was adopted until Horace told him.
  • Public Domain: Thanks to a failure to renew the copyright, this film is now in the public domain.
  • The Runaway: Bill attempts to run away at one point, complete with a Bindle Stick.
  • Spoiled Brat: Horace is used to getting what he wants, and with the help of his mother, he successfully takes Bill's bedroom away from him.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Well, Lily is his aunt, but essentially fills this role as a new female guardian who mistreats Bill in favour of her own son.

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