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HISTORY

The 10 Sep 1921 Exhibitors Herald announced My Boy as Jackie Coogan’s next feature film, written by his father, Jack Coogan, Sr., and co-director Victor Heerman. The picture was set to be the first of a five-feature series made by producer Sol Lesser. A later item in the Feb 1922 issue of The Photodramatist credited Lois Zellner, not Victor Heerman, as Coogan, Sr.’s co-writer, while a Dec 1921 brief in The Photodramatist had credited Zellner with writing continuity. Acccording to Exhibitors Herald, theater owner Sid Grauman was responsible for coming up with the film’s title.
       The 12 Nov 1921 Exhibitors Trade Review stated that Jackie Coogan, in the role of “Jackie Blair,” was set to wear the same costume and makeup he wore in his first feature film, the Charlie Chaplin picture, The Kid (1921, see entry). Coogan had been catapulted to instant fame by the Chaplin film, and his handlers reportedly intended to present him as “the same character…in some portion of every picture he appears in.”
       According to a 17 Sep 1921 Exhibitors Herald brief, principal photography was expected to conclude ten days early. An item in the 17 Sep 1921 Exhibitors Trade Review noted that Victor Heerman had allowed for more time than necessary because he had assumed his child star would not work as quickly as adult celebrities. On 22 Oct 1921, Exhibitors Trade Review reported that filming was completed that week, after three months of “solid work” on the production; however, the 1 Oct 1921 Motion Picture News announced that ...

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The 10 Sep 1921 Exhibitors Herald announced My Boy as Jackie Coogan’s next feature film, written by his father, Jack Coogan, Sr., and co-director Victor Heerman. The picture was set to be the first of a five-feature series made by producer Sol Lesser. A later item in the Feb 1922 issue of The Photodramatist credited Lois Zellner, not Victor Heerman, as Coogan, Sr.’s co-writer, while a Dec 1921 brief in The Photodramatist had credited Zellner with writing continuity. Acccording to Exhibitors Herald, theater owner Sid Grauman was responsible for coming up with the film’s title.
       The 12 Nov 1921 Exhibitors Trade Review stated that Jackie Coogan, in the role of “Jackie Blair,” was set to wear the same costume and makeup he wore in his first feature film, the Charlie Chaplin picture, The Kid (1921, see entry). Coogan had been catapulted to instant fame by the Chaplin film, and his handlers reportedly intended to present him as “the same character…in some portion of every picture he appears in.”
       According to a 17 Sep 1921 Exhibitors Herald brief, principal photography was expected to conclude ten days early. An item in the 17 Sep 1921 Exhibitors Trade Review noted that Victor Heerman had allowed for more time than necessary because he had assumed his child star would not work as quickly as adult celebrities. On 22 Oct 1921, Exhibitors Trade Review reported that filming was completed that week, after three months of “solid work” on the production; however, the 1 Oct 1921 Motion Picture News announced that filming had already ended. The budget was estimated at over $125,000. Sets modeled after New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood were built at Universal City Studios, and other filming took place at Brunton Studios in Hollywood, CA, according to the 5 Nov 1921 issue of Motion Picture News.
       Distribution negotiations for Lesser’s five-picture series featuring Coogan were still underway as of a 19 Nov 1921 Motion Picture News brief, which stated that Mrs. Jack Coogan, the star’s mother, was personally delivering the completed film to the East Coast that week. Associated First National Pictures was expected to win distribution rights, although Lesser reportedly received “several concrete offers via state righting and from large national distributing organizations.” A 3 Dec 1921 Exhibitors Trade Review brief anticipated that film rentals on the next five Coogan pictures would bring in $5 million, and box-office receipts would gross $15 million.
       A charity premiere was initially scheduled to take place mid-Nov 1921 in New York City. However, the premiere was delayed until the week of 24 Dec 1921, according to the Exhibitors Trade Review published that day, and was held at the Ambassador Hotel Theatre on Park Avenue, with proceeds from the $5 tickets going toward an unnamed cause.
       The film opened on 25 Dec 1921 at the Mark Strand Theatre in New York City, which promoted the release with a twenty-nine-by-forty-foot photograph of Coogan erected above the theater, as stated in the 26 Nov 1921 Exhibitors Trade Review. The advertisement, lit by arc lights mounted on surrounding buildings, was said to be “the largest photograph in the world,” and was produced by the Shipman Process Company in Los Angeles, CA. A 24 Dec 1921 Moving Picture World item credited C. L. Yearsley, director of Associated First National’s promotions department, with creating lithographs for the film using still photographs from excised scenes. The lithographs included childish text, in the voice of Jack Blair, complete with misspellings and doodles scribbled over the distributor logo.
       Although the 26 May 1922 Var cited a general release date of 25 Dec 1921, other sources, including the 21 Jan 1922 Moving Picture World and 4 Feb 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review, listed 7 Jan 1922 as the general release date. By late May 1922, the film had grossed $820,000, and was expected to earn a cumulative $2 million by the end of its run.
       The 28 Jan 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review noted that, during the first week of the film’s run at the Kinema Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, a “Garment Matinee” was held, in which the cost of admission was a child’s garment or bundle of clothing, to be donated to the Assistance League of Southern California. In Memphis, TN, a Strand theater owner named Thomas G. Coleman collaborated with a hardware store owner on a joint publicity campaign, which promoted pogo sticks (sold by the hardware store) and My Boy by sending theater ushers dressed as Coogan to bounce on pogo sticks on the street. Coleman also held a Coogan lookalike contest that drew 267 contestants.
       According to an item in the Jan 1922 Picture-Play Magazine, Jack Coogan, Sr. appears in the film as “an old ice-cream peddler.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
10 Sep 1921
---
Exhibitors Herald
17 Sep 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
17 Sep 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
22 Oct 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
12 Nov 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
26 Nov 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
3 Dec 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
10 Dec 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
24 Dec 1921
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
7 Jan 1922
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
28 Jan 1922
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
4 Feb 1922
---
Film Daily
1 Jan 1922
---
Motion Picture Magazine
Jan 1922
---
Motion Picture News
1 Oct 1921
p. 1770
Motion Picture News
5 Nov 1921
---
Motion Picture News
19 Nov 1921
---
Motion Picture News
3 Dec 1921
---
Moving Picture World
17 Sep 1921
---
Moving Picture World
8 Oct 1921
---
Moving Picture World
24 Dec 1921
---
Moving Picture World
7 Jan 1922
p. 112
Moving Picture World
14 Jan 1922
p. 202
Moving Picture World
21 Jan 1922
---
Moving Picture World
29 Apr 1922
---
Picture-Play Magazine
Jan 1922
---
The Photodramatist
Dec 1921
---
The Photodramatist
Feb 1922
---
Variety
6 Jan 1922
p. 43
Variety
26 May 1922
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Pres
WRITERS
Titles
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1921
Premiere Information:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington premieres: 25 Dec 1921
Production Date:
ended late Sep 1921
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Sol Lesser
27 December 1921
LP17446
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
4,967
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Jackie Blair arrives in the United States as a steerage passenger and faces deportation because his mother has died during the voyage. Captain Bill, a retired skipper, tries his best to amuse Jackie while arrangements are being made for his return trip, but Jackie escapes and follows the captain to his shanty home. Although the captain loves the boy, his poverty and age preclude his keeping him. Meanwhile, a wealthy matron who is Jackie's grandmother, missing Jackie at Ellis Island, begins a search for him. When the captain is taken ill, Jackie earns money by dancing in the streets and buys medicine for his patron, and at the settlement house where he attends a party given by the rich matron Jackie steals some grapes. Tracked by the police to the captain's shanty, Jackie is taken into custody and learns that he is Mrs. Blair's grandson; he and the captain then find a happy home with his ...

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Jackie Blair arrives in the United States as a steerage passenger and faces deportation because his mother has died during the voyage. Captain Bill, a retired skipper, tries his best to amuse Jackie while arrangements are being made for his return trip, but Jackie escapes and follows the captain to his shanty home. Although the captain loves the boy, his poverty and age preclude his keeping him. Meanwhile, a wealthy matron who is Jackie's grandmother, missing Jackie at Ellis Island, begins a search for him. When the captain is taken ill, Jackie earns money by dancing in the streets and buys medicine for his patron, and at the settlement house where he attends a party given by the rich matron Jackie steals some grapes. Tracked by the police to the captain's shanty, Jackie is taken into custody and learns that he is Mrs. Blair's grandson; he and the captain then find a happy home with his grandmother.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.