Could not help but to put a few words down on this one. I was a little shocked by how well put together it was. when it came up next on my amazon prime video watchlist, my first thought was that I was going to see something in the lines of the Little Rascals or the Bowery Boys, both of which good selections but there was something about That Gang of mine that was intriguing.
That Gang of Mine is a 1940 b-movie. You can tell simply from how cheap the production was. The film is supposed to be set in New York, but they literally did nothing to try to convince you that this was not just a small soundstage in Hollywood.
For a B-movie what they had was a compelling story about a group of slum dogs who get the chance to be part of a crew that will train a champion Racehorse. The story was well done and out of now where for me how in depth it was in its drama and humor.
Then you had the cast of characters. a variety of Ok actors playing their parts well, but the biggest surprise out of the park for me personally was the addition of a Black character as part of the gang from the get-go. I mean I should not be over impressed because the Little Rascals had I think three black kids (not all at once with the most famous being buck wheat). This guy was no buck wheat. For me watching a 1940s black n white movie that had a black dude in it met I was looking for the Stereotypes to hate, and yes, they had some, but not enough for the time period. There are personas Hollywood looks for when casting a black actor that still exist to this day, but it shocked me that both of the black actors in this movie seemed to be respectable in their roles (can’t say the same for off camera).
I have to mention a part with an old black man who trains horses starts to sing a negro spiritual. The white guys are not feeling it, but it touches the soul of the black kid who can’t help but to get up and starts tap dancing. I don’t mention this because of the obvious stereotype, I mention this because this is a go to working bit that has been around now for over 80 years. Was this film the first to do this? from the way the scene was set up it would not surprise me if the black actor playing this role was more famous that I would ever know. It was like if you got Chris Brown to act in a movie and added a part where he gets to dance.
I will say my focus on the fact that this Gang treated him like nothing but an equal allowed me to see how greatly developed all the characters were.
That Gang of Mine feels like a strange archetype for certain comedic movies. You know the type where the lead white boy has a plan or a plot that he wants the fellas to help him out with and it leads to a bunch of hijacks. the only thing the formula was missing is some girls for the boys and a true antagonist to toss a wrench into the plot. I almost feel that’s the reason why I favor this movie cause it feels like the early stages of a overused Hollywood format, and I love watching where that format started to develop.