Directed by Robert McGowan. Dialog by H.M. Walker. Cinematography by Art Lloyd. Music by LeRoy Shield. Sound by Elmer Raguse. Starring Jackie Cooper, Allen Clayton “Farina” Hoskins, Norman “Chubby” Chaney, Matthew Beard, Dorothy DeBorba, Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins, Clifton “Bonedust” Young, Mary Ann Jackson, Donald Haines, June Marlowe, May Wallace, Shirley Jean Rickert. A Hal Roach production for MGM. Filmed September 3 to 20, 1930. Released February 14, 1931
The Crabtree trilogy in the Our Gang series during 1930-1931 culminates with the best comedy of the three.
“Teacher’s Pet” was the introduction to the characters and the situation. “School’s Out” was the pivotal film that used the situation for comedy. And “Love Business,” the third film in the trilogy, extends beyond that which has been introduced and is the funniest of the three shorts.
Jackie (Jackie Cooper) remain smitten with the pretty teacher Miss Crabtree (June Marlowe), but his crush is now complicated for a few reasons. First, his infatuation is spilling into his home life. He hugs and kisses his little brother Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) in his sleep, can’t eat breakfast, and just sits and pines over a photo. Also, he now has a rival. Chubby (Norman Chaney) has developed a similar crush on the teacher. To further complicate matters, Miss Crabtree has decided to rent a room from Jackie’s mother (May Wallace) in their home.
One of the funniest sequence in “Love Business” is when Chubby is reciting his love lines (which he gets from old love letters owned by Jackie’s mother – he bought them from Wheezer). Kissing a standup of Greta Garbo in front of the neighborhood movie theater, Chubby recites his love lines and they are repeated and parodied by his little sister Echo (Dorothy DeBorba).
Chubby: Oh my darling, can you hear my pleas in my whispers?
Echo: Darlng I hear the fleas in your whiskers!
Chubby: If love is like a rose, I will pick my rose in a bud
Echo: If love is like a rose, I will stick my nose in the mud
Chubby: My heart is filled with joy, I want to trip and dance
Echo: My heart is filled with joy, I want to rip my pants!
It all comes to a head when Miss Crabtree settles into Jackie’s home. Wheezer says, “now Jackie and sleep with you and hug and kiss you!” Of course Chubby comes by and decides to use his love lines on Miss Crabtree. Sitting with her on the couch, Chubby insists on being called “Chubsy-Ubsy” and does his best with lines like “Miss Crabtree, there’s something heavy on my heart.” Jackie continually sticks his head through a curtain into the room, responding with things like “Chubsy-ubsy, there’s gonna be something heavy on your nose!”
Jackie’s mom starts to recognize the love lines, and it is revealed that Chubby bought her old love notes from Wheezer.
All of the humor and charm the exudes from this period of the Our Gang series is evident in the Crabtree trilogy. While “Teacher’s Pet” is a bit too heavy on sentiment, it is a necessary establishing film and the two subsequent shorts are an improvement.
The Miss Crabtree character did appear in a few more Our Gang efforts, but the three discussed in my articles stand out as the quintessential trilogy of two reel comedies from one of the most endearing, and enduring comedy series of the pre-code era.