“The Bum’s Rush”
Directed by James Davis. Starring Snub Pollard, Mavis Clare, Otto Fries, Dick Gilbert, Max Asher, Bobby Nelson. Released January 1, 1927. Two Reels
Snub Pollard plays a meek little hobo in a camp with other hoboes, who is accosted by an escaped convict running from the police. The criminal hides under the blanket with Snub, whose foot is sticking out, so the cops clasp the ball-and-chain on Snub’s foot. The criminal switches his prison uniform for Snub’s clothes, and now the cops are after Snub.
A bit later, Snub and the criminal find themselves in each other’s company when they stumble upon a hideout and find a criminal gang holding a child for ransom. They rescue the child, the criminal more interested in the $10,000 reward than the kid’s welfare.
Sometimes as we explore silent comedy, we discover films that just aren’t all that impressive and, sadly, this is one of them. Snub Pollard is a very funny man who had a very long career in movies, but despite a few classics along the way (his best is probably the inventive Hal Roach production “It’s a Gift”), he had his share of misfires. “The Bum’s Rush” was produced by Snub for his own company and released through Weiss Brothers/Artclass.
Not that the film is without merit. Snub is a naturally funny character so his presence makes the film amusing. There is a wildly funny bit toward the beginning of the short when Snub, clad in the too-large prison duds of the convict and holding a ball and chain, runs after a truck in an attempt to hitch a ride. There are many amusing moments as Snub tries to elude police and hide the ball and chain. But the film’s real highlight is when the boy gets stuck outside a window on a high-rise building, and Snub must walk across a clothesline to rescue him (holding an umbrella like a circus act). Pollard had worked in some of Harold Lloyd’s early films, and may likely have been inspired by Lloyd’s “Safety Last” (1923).
So little of silent cinema exists, it is great that even this disappointing movie is available in any form. And the print I screened, from the Weiss Brothers DVD set, is absolutely beautiful – a very clean, sharp picture, obviously restored, and accompanied by a great piano score by Philip Carli.
“The Bum’s Rush” is only fair. It is by no means anywhere near Snub Pollard’s best work. But it does have a few fleeting moments that are quite funny and quite impressive.