Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Peck's Bad Boy

We have been featuring stories about Peck's Bad Boy by George W. Peck in the Basement. They're pretty funny and worth a listen. Of all Peck's humorous writing, the Bad Boy stories, first appearing in the 1880s, were the most popular, staying in print for over a century. The Bad Boy wasn't the first character of that sort, and certainly not the last. Mischievous kids have been a staple of television and comic strips for a long time. But Peck's nasty kid was probably the nastiest of them all. He played truly mean pranks on his father and others, such as the Grocery Man, but they were always clever and imaginative.

In 1921, a feature film was made of Peck's Bad Boy, starring Jackie Coogan, fresh from his co-starring role in Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. Coogan later achieved fame as an adult, playing the role of Uncle Fester on the TV series, The Addams Family. The silent film, directed by Sam Wood, who would later achieve lasting fame as the director of the Marx Bros. movie A Night at the Opera, was full of great gags. Coogan was marvelously full of spunk and nastiness.

Ten years later, another version of the story was filmed starring young Jackie Cooper as the Bad Boy, but it was marred with too much sentimentality and toned-down pranks.

No doubt, Peck's Bad Boy could easily be updated to modern times in a new movie, and if properly handled, would be extremely funny, and outrage stuffed shirts around the nation again.

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