Jul 29, 2014

Jackie Cooper, Skippy


On paper, a film about the misadventures of a little boy and his friends doesn't exactly scream "Oscar material", especially by today's standards. However, little 9 year old Jackie Cooper single handedly carries Skippy with bravura and makes the picture worth watching by virtue of his infantile charm and fearless onscreen personality. It's no wonder that he managed to secure a spot in Oscar history as the youngest Best Actor nominee ever. I've praised Cooper once before on this blog, and this time around I was still impressed by how mature an actor Cooper seems to be and how uncannily cognizant he is of acting for the screen. Sure, perhaps that big crying scene of Cooper's couldn't have happened without director Norman Taurog threatening to kill his dog, and that in turn raises the question of how much "acting" a child actor actually executes and how much is manufactured and influenced by another person. But you watch Cooper act up against the likes of the extremely affected Robert Coogan and the ridiculously hammy Mitzi Green and it's clear as day that Cooper is a child actor who not only had a pretty good idea of what he was doing but was also a natural born entertainer. Cooper is fiercely domineering amongst his gang of friends and politely shrewd as well as childishly vulnerable around his elders, capturing all these sides of Skippy rather convincingly. I may not generally be a fan of child performances, but Cooper's sharp wit and innate performing intelligence is what seals the deal for me. Watching him, it's quite easy to see how the audiences of 1931 were so taken by him, and at the very least this is a performance that'll be sure to put a smile or two on your face, if only because it's all such silly, juvenile fun.


  1. Interesting you've mentioned it yourself, I was going to ask "you do realize this film has kids in it, right?" :D

    Glad to hear the nomination was actually worth it.

    1. I wasn't surprised :) I actually really loved him in The Champ, so I figured I'd at least like him this time around. To my knowledge, Cooper is the one and only child actor who stole my blackened, cold, children-hating heart. But there's always one exception to everything :P

    2. I actually haven't seen The Sixth Sense in its entirety! Bits and pieces though...