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Film / Skippy

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Just give them the dog, dammit. note 

Skippy is a 1931 comedy film directed by Norman Taurog, starring Taurog's nephew Jackie Cooper (the biggest child star of the pre-Shirley Temple era) and Robert Coogan (the younger brother of another early child star, Jackie Coogan of The Kid fame). It was adapted from a newspaper comic strip of the same name created by Percy Crosby.

Skippy (Cooper) is the only son of Dr. and Mrs. Skinner, a wealthy family in town; Dr. Skinner is also head of the local Board of Health. In that capacity, Dr. Skinner is responsible for the shantytown across the railroad tracks, one that no doubt has grown in size due to The Great Depression. Dr. Skinner wants to see the shantytown demolished and the people driven out.

Skippy however likes to go play in the shantytown, despite his father's stern warnings to not go there. One day he meets a little boy named Sooky (Coogan) who lives in a typical tumbledown shack in the shantytown, but has a cute dog that Skippy likes. Unfortunately Sooky doesn't have a license for the dog—the license that Dr. Skinner as head of the Board of Health says they have to have—because his family can't afford the $3 for a fee. When the mean-spirited dogcatcher confiscates the dog, Skippy and Sooky have three days to somehow scrounge up three dollars before the dog is put down.


This pleasant but unmemorable film somehow received four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Taurog, and Best Actor for Jackie Cooper. Taurog and Cooper still hold the records for youngest person to ever win the Best Director award (Taurog was 32) and youngest person to ever be nominated for a Best Actor award (Cooper was nine). Until 2018 film Black Panther, Skippy was the only film adapted from a comic strip, comic book, or graphic novel to ever be nominated for Best Picture.

Followed later that same year by a sequel, Sooky, again starring Cooper and Coogan.



  • Adorably Precocious Child: Skippy, of course.
  • Blatant Lies: When Skippy is looking for someone to fight 55-lb Sooky, his friend Sidney claims that he is 130 lb and thus out of Sooky's weight class.
  • The Bully: Harley Nubbins, the dogcatcher's son, who takes delight in picking on poor little Sooky but runs away crying after Skippy fights him.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Skippy and Sooky go racing back to Mr. Nubbins with $2.70 and a plea for more time, only to find that Mr. Nubbins shot the dog.
  • Diabolical Dog Catcher: Mr. Nubbins, who takes cruel delight in confiscating Sooky's dog, and later takes cruel pleasure in telling them that he shot the dog. He seems to resent Skippy's father for bossing people around.
  • Exact Words: Dr. Skinner tells Skippy to never cross over the railroad tracks into the shantytown. So Skippy finds a storm drain and crosses under the tracks. Later, Skippy is told to never touch his piggy bank, but he needs that piggy bank in order to raise the $3 to liberate Sooky's dog. So he makes a loop out of string and picks it up with the string without touching it. Sooky then figures out that Skippy's mom didn't say he couldn't touch the piggy bank, so it's Sooky who puts the piggy bank in the middle of the road for a truck to run over and break open.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Sidney. In the sequel, he's more of an outright antagonist.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Helen, Skippy's acting kind of queer."
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dr. Skinner buys Sooky a purebred bulldog to replace the dog that got put down, and pledges to clean up the shantytown instead of demolish it.
  • Heel Realization: Skippy's tearful confession causes Dr. Skinner to realize that not only is he ultimately responsible for the dog getting shot, he's responsible for the people of the shantytown facing imminent eviction. See Heel–Face Turn above.
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: One of Skippy and Sooky's attempts to raise the $3 to get the dog back is by charging admission to a variety show that they stage in Shantytown. Skippy steals some old uniform of his father's to use for a costume.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Skippy was a popular newspaper comic strip of the day, and this was the film adaptation.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Holy crap, they didn't actually name their child "Skippy", did they?
  • Produce Pelting: Mean-spirited little Sidney apparently brought a selection of vegetables to fling at Sooky and the other kids in the variety show. Skippy solves this problem by getting a tomato of his own and heaving it from backstage, scoring a direct hit on Sidney's face.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: Or saw a little boy in half. The trick is ruined when the kid playing the part of Sooky's legs panics at the sight of the blade and runs away.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Did the only black kid in the neighborhood really have to be the one that gets scared by the Saw a Woman in Half trick? Really?
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Literally, as the shantytown is on the other side of the railroad tracks.


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