Hal Roach's Streamliners

Hal Roach's Streamliners were a series of featurette comedy films created by Hal Roach that were longer than a short subject and less than a feature film not exceeding 50 minutes in length.[1] Twenty of the twenty-nine features that Roach produced for United Artists were in the streamliner format.[1] They usually consisted of five 10-minute reels.[2]


Roach's studio initially produced comedy short subjects but by 1935 sensed that short subjects were on the way out.[3] As the double feature format for cinemas was then popular, when Roach began producing films for United Artists he came up with the idea of a short-length film he called streamliners after the public's infatuation with the then modern and fast streamliner trains. The short length gave more room for part of a double-feature program.

The price of a streamliner was set at $110,000; with four streamliners being able to be produced for the cost of one feature film, yet profits would bring an estimated 50 to 75% more than a single feature.[4]

Wartime Streamliners

Note that Roach's Laurel and Hardy film A Chump at Oxford was released in the United States at 42 minutes,[5] but was not produced as a "streamliner" per se. Extra scenes were shot for an overseas release of 63 minutes.

World War II interrupted Roach's Hollywood film production, with him leaving to war as Major in the Army Signal Corps.[6] Hal Roach Studios were later used for training films ("Camp Roach").

Postwar Streamliners

  • Curley, 53 minutes, released August 23, 1947, an attempt to re-formulate an Our Gang kid-comedy format. Roach resumed film production with the streamliners in Cinecolor, giving Roach the distinction of being the only film studio to have an all-color schedule. (Roach had made a Cinecolor short, Daily Beauty Rituals with Constance Bennett in 1937.)
  • The Fabulous Joe, 59 minutes, August 29, starring Walter Abel
  • Sadie and Sally, 30 minutes, reportedly released 1948 but perhaps never finished
  • Here Comes Trouble, 55 minutes, March 15, 1948, following the Tracy and Sawyer team into civilian life
  • Who Killed Doc Robbin, 55 minutes, April 9, 1948, a sequel to Curley

In 1947 Roach created Hal Roach's Comedy Carnival as a feature by compiling two (dissimilar) streamliners, Curley and The Fabulous Joe. Another attempt at a compiled feature was Lafftime, combining Here Comes Trouble and Who Killed Doc Robbin?. Likewise, but with more continuity, in 1948 Roach and director Kurt Neumann re-cut the feature-length Two Knights from Brooklyn out of Two Mugs from Brooklyn and Taxi, Mister.

The Tracy and Sawyer team would reappear in two films produced by Hal Roach Jr., back in the army in the midst of the Korean War: As You Were (1951) and Mr. Walkie Talkie (1952), released by Lippert Pictures.

The visionary but financially ailing Roach soon turned his studios over to television show production in 1949 beginning with Fireside Theater.


  1. ^ a b King, Molloy & Tzioumakis 2012, p. 53.
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley (October 9, 1941). "' Tanks a Million,' a Hal Roach Comedy About Army Life as It Isn't, at Loew's Criterion". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  3. ^ Maltin 1972, p. 5.
  4. ^ Ward 2006, pp. 120–121.
  5. ^ "A Chump At Oxford". United Artists. Beverly Hills, California: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. ASIN B0016KVA8O. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Barnes, Bart (1992-11-03). "MOVIE GREAT HAL ROACH DIES". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-12-06.


About Face (1942 film)

About Face is a 1942 American comedy film directed by Kurt Neumann and written by Eugene Conrad and Edward E. Seabrook. The film is the second of the Hal Roach's Streamliners Army film series with stars William Tracy and Joe Sawyer. The film also features Jean Porter, Marjorie Lord, Margaret Dumont, Veda Ann Borg and Joe Cunningham. The film was released on April 16, 1942, by United Artists.

Abroad with Two Yanks

Abroad with Two Yanks is a 1944 American comedy film directed by Allan Dwan and starring Helen Walker, William Bendix and Dennis O'Keefe as the title characters. It was Bendix's third and final role in a film as a US Marine and the first of Dwan's three films about the United States Marine Corps.

Brooklyn Orchid

Brooklyn Orchid is a 1942 American comedy film directed by Kurt Neumann and written by Earle Snell and Clarence Marks that was one of Hal Roach's Streamliners. The film stars William Bendix, Joe Sawyer, Marjorie Woodworth, Grace Bradley, Richard "Skeets" Gallagher, Florine McKinney and Leonid Kinskey. The film was released on January 31, 1942, by United Artists.

Calaboose (film)

Calaboose is a 1943 sequel to Dudes are Pretty People (1942), a Western film featurette from "Hal Roach's Streamliners," a series of approximately 50-minute comedic movies, in this case directed by Hal Roach Jr. and starring Jimmy Rogers as "Jimmy" and Noah Beery Jr. as "Pidge Crosby" (Beery's real-life nickname was "Pidge"). The film runs 45 minutes and features Mary Brian in the supporting cast. Another sequel followed later the same year, with Rogers and Beery playing the same characters, entitled Prairie Chickens.

Dudes Are Pretty People

Dudes are Pretty People is a 1942 film and the first Western entry of "Hal Roach's Streamliners," approximately 50-minute comedic movies, directed by Hal Roach, Jr. and starring Jimmy Rogers as "Jimmy" and Noah Beery, Jr. as "Pidge Crosby" (Beery's real-life nickname was "Pidge"). The featurette was written by Louis S. Kaye from a story by Donald Hough. The running time for this film is 43 minutes and the picture was released in March 1942. The film had two Streamliners sequels, Calaboose and Prairie Chickens, both released in 1943 with Rogers and Beery in the same roles.


In the American film industry, a featurette is a kind of film which is shorter than a full length feature, but longer than a short film. They comprise two forms of content, shorter films and companion films.

Fiesta (1941 film)

Fiesta is a 1941 American Technicolor film directed by LeRoy Prinz that was one of Hal Roach's Streamliners. The film was the motion picture debut of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera star Anne Ayars.

The film was re-released in 1948 by Favorite Films and retitled Gaiety.

Gordon Douglas (director)

Gordon Douglas (December 15, 1907 – September 29, 1993) was an American film director, who directed many different genres of films over the course of a five-decade career in motion pictures. He was a native of New York City.

Hay Foot

Hay Foot is a 1942 American military comedy, the second of five World War II-themed Hal Roach's Streamliners starring William Tracy and Joe Sawyer (three additional entries in the series were produced after the war). Fred Guiol directed seven of the eight films, the exception being 1951's As You Were. The leads were played by William Tracy and Joe Sawyer, with co-stars James Gleason, Noah Beery, Jr. and Elyse Knox.

Niagara Falls (1941 film)

Niagara Falls is a 1941 American comedy of errors film directed by Gordon Douglas that was one of Hal Roach's Streamliners.

Prairie Chickens

Prairie Chickens is a 1943 sequel to Dudes are Pretty People (1942) and Calaboose (1943), Western films from "Hal Roach's Streamliners," a series of approximately 50-minute comedic movies, in this case directed by Hal Roach, Jr. and starring Jimmy Rogers as "Jimmy" and Noah Beery, Jr. as "Pidge Crosby" (Beery's real-life nickname was "Pidge"). The supporting cast features comedy veteran Raymond Hatton, who had been an unofficial comedy partner with Beery's uncle Wallace Beery in several pictures two decades earlier, and the featurette's running time is 48 minutes.


Streamline may refer to:

Operation Streamline


Streamliners are streamlined trains. Streamliners could also be:

Streamliners (Illinois Terminal Railroad), three equipment sets owned by the Illinois Terminal Railroad

Hal Roach's Streamliners, a set of comedy films directed by Hal Roach

Tanks a Million

Tanks a Million is a 1941 American film directed by Fred Guiol. It was the first of Hal Roach's Streamliners, short films under an hour designed for the lower half of a double feature. The film was also the first pairing of William Tracy and Joe Sawyer in a film series of the two in the military. Despite the title and military setting, no tanks are seen in the film.

That Nazty Nuisance

That Nazty Nuisance is a 1943 American featurette that was one of Hal Roach's Streamliners and directed by Glenn Tryon. The film is also known as Double Crossed Fool (international TV title) and The Last Three. It is a sequel to The Devil with Hitler.

The Devil with Hitler

The Devil with Hitler (a.k.a. Hitler's Valet) is a black-and-white 1942 comedy short propaganda film that was one of Hal Roach's Streamliners short film series. When the board of directors of Hell want Adolf Hitler to take charge, the devil tries to save his job by making the German dictator perform a good deed.

Two Knights from Brooklyn

Two Knights from Brooklyn 1949 film directed by Kurt Neumann and starring William Bendix, Joe Sawyer, and Grace Bradley. It chronicles the adventures of two average "Joes" that form a taxi company in Brooklyn, foil the notorious gangster, "The Frisco Ghost", and live through wives and girlfriend problems.

The film was compiled from two of Hal Roach's Streamliners short features, both originally directed by Neumann a few years before.

Who Killed Doc Robbin

Who Killed Doc Robbin is a 1948 film directed by Bernard Carr and starring Larry Olsen, Billy Gray, and Renee Beard. It was produced by Hal Roach and Robert F. McGowan as a reimagining of their Our Gang series.

The film was one of "Hal Roach's Streamliners" features of the 1940s, running only 55 minutes, and was designed as a B-movie. Like most of Roach's latter-day output, Who Killed Doc Robbin, the sequel to 1947's Curley, was shot in Cinecolor. The film was released to theatres on April 9, 1948 by United Artists.

Who Killed Doc Robbin's plot involves a murder mystery involving the death of local scientist Dr. Hugo Robbin. Curley (Olsen) and his "gang" happen to have been key witnesses to several of the events, and the children's testimonies are told in flashback during the court case.

When Hal Roach sold Our Gang to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938, he was contractually bound not to produce anymore kids comedies. When Roach decided that he wanted to produce Curley, he got MGM's permission by giving up his right to buy back the name Our Gang.

Both Curley and Who Killed Doc Robbin, performed poorly at the box office (as a result, Roach discontinued theatrical film production, turning his studio's efforts towards television), and when Roach bought back the rights to the 1927-1938 Our Gang shorts in 1949, he had to re-christen the series as The Little Rascals.

William Tracy

William Tracy (December 1, 1917 – July 18, 1967) was an American character actor.

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