When a Fellow Needs a Friend is a fine little film starring child star Jackie Cooper; a movie more successful, in fact, than many of the ones MGM made by and for adults. Those films often resorted to jaw-dropping twists of plot in order to get the guy and the gal together in the last frame. There's nothing too far-fetched in this movie, though, and some of it is quite effective, and it's also a love story of sorts.
Cooper is teamed up this time with character actor Charles 'Chic' Sale. Though born in 1885, Sale made a career playing old men even though he was only in his '40s! In this film Sale's character, Uncle Jonas, helps Cooper learn courage despite a crippling physical handicap and over-protective parents. Andy Shuford is also excellent as Cooper's bullying cousin, "Froggie". Cooper crying in several scenes caused some viewers to think he cried too much. I don't mind his crying if the story warrants it, which it did here.
There's nothing too profound or Oscar-worthy here, just a good little story well-told. If this movie was released to theatres this week, and marketed to kids, it would be a money maker.
When a Fellow Needs a Friend is not available on DVD or VHS, but has been broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.