With a supporting role in this rollicking two-reeler, Buster Keaton steps before the camera for the first time. He and Arbuckle work together seamlessly and although simplistic and crude, the comedy works as pure slapstick.
The film’s beginning shows Arbuckle adept at juggling and acrobatics in a scene which would be refined and improved upon one year later in THE COOK. This time it’s with slabs of meat and cleavers. Keaton has a run in with some brooms and then molasses. There’s a flour fight and a pie fight at the conclusion of the first half, set in a general store.
The second half occurs in a girl’s school where Al St. John as Fatty’s rival and Fatty himself arrive in drag to see their mutual girlfriend. Fatty’s take on Mary Pickford with curls and ribbons by the score is hilarious while St. John surely makes the ugliest of women. Keaton is seen in this sequence as St. John’s helper, unusual since he is usually assisting Arbuckle as a team player. The ending melee in the boarding house is non-stop madness. IMDB
Actor, director, producer and screenwriter, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (1887-1933) was one of the most loved then reviled personalities of early films, The large but agile performer began in traveling shows and vaudeville and started appearing in films around 1910. He signed with comedy producer Mack Sennett in 1913 as a member of the Keystone Cops and rose to prominence while performing and collaborating with Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin in Keystone Comedies. By the mid-teens Arbuckle was a full fledged director and writer of his own and other comics films. 1917 found him with his own production company and a promising protégé: Buster Keaton.
Sadly, his success was short lived as he fell victim to one of the most infamous of Hollywood scandals. In late 1921, Arbuckle threw a party which was crashed by a starlet named Virginia Rappe who fell seriously ill and died a few days later. Arbuckle was accused of rape and charged with manslaughter for which he was acquitted in 1923… read more