Farina and his little sister Pleurisy are caught
on the horns of a dilemma: it's election day, and until the votes are
counted neither Joe nor Jay will allow them to leave their farmyard.
At the same time, the kids' mother expects them to deliver her laundry.
Farina and Pleurisy try all sorts of disguises, but none of them really does
the trick until a scarecrow masquerade frightens the daylights out of
everyone in sight, including their mother and father!
When they finally manage to get downtown, they
find themselves caught in another battle, between the police and a crooked
group of gangster-politicians (the Pool Room Party) hoping to cause a riot
and loot the ballot boxes. A massive shoot-out ensues, with Farina and
Pleurisy unwittingly foiling the crooks by finding the "missing" ballots in
their laundry wagon and turning them in. This doesn't impress their
mother, however, whose only concern is that the laundry hasn't yet been
delivered, and spankings are the youngsters' reward.
Election Day has about as much to do with
elections as Giants vs. Yanks had to do with baseball. Story
exposition is muddled, and it's almost as if Roach or McGowan or McCarey
viewed the rushes, realized the kiddie election wasn't going anywhere,
junked it, and simply switched to the unrelated adult election never even
hinted at in the early footage.
The adult elections doings are equally
fragmented, and the massive shoot-out serves no purpose other than to
provide some gratuitous slapstick for the film's final moments. Farina
isn't even thanked when he turns in the stolen ballots.
Little Pleurisy, who remains on of the few
unidentified Our Gang players, has the film's funniest moments by
virtue of her exuberant, expressive face.
One visual gag in Election Day was good
enough to be reused by Roach staffers in
Laurel & Hardy's film titled
West, nearly a decade later. It's the very effective traveling
shot of a huge cloud of dust, supposedly kicked up by Farina's frightened
parents as they scurry to leave town. The shot is made by moving a
powerful wind machine toward the camera. There are blowers and trays
of loose dirt mounted on a dolly, all of which are hidden by the cyclone of
dust created in the machine's own path while advancing toward the camera.
Then the action is reversed to create a startling illusion on film.
These minor episodes aside, however, Election
Day has little to recommend it. Even the kids had trouble rising
above mediocre material and Anthony Mack's lackluster direction. Bob
McGowan was credited as Supervising Director, but the results on film show
that the credit was simply a matter of form. This credit was in vogue
during the late 1920's. It was a do-nothing position, and screen
credit was often simply a courtesy. Eventually, as
Buster Keaton has remarked, title credit for this inflated capacity was
"laughed off the screen."