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Arbuckle & Keaton

Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle , Buster Keaton , Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Before Chris Farley, there was Roscoe Arbuckle, the original "Fatty falls down" clown whose popularity in silent films once rivaled Charlie Chaplin's. But he became a pariah following the death of actress Virgina Rappe at an infamous wild party in 1921. The tabloid press had a field day, though Arbuckle was acquitted after three sensational trials. He was the first actor to be blacklisted. This collection of short subjects made at the peak of Arbuckle's popularity should restore his rightful place in film comedy history. "The Bell Boy," "The Butcher Boy," "Out West," "Moonshine," and "The Hayseed" are knockabout slapstick gagfests in the classic tradition of Mack Sennett, with whom Arbuckle got his start as one of the Keystone Cops. Despite his heft, Arbuckle proves himself an agile clown. But he is upstaged by his costar, Buster Keaton, then 21 years old (but a 20-year show business stage veteran!). Keaton buffs will thrill to his earliest screen appearances. He makes his auspicious screen debut in "The Butcher Boy" as a general store customer who gets into a sticky situation when he tries to purchase a pail of molasses. More sensitive viewers will want to fast forward through the rather brutal "Out West," which includes some unfortunate racial humor. --Donald Liebenson

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars K&A Mixed Bag Aug. 28 2002
Format:DVD
Most silent comedies, aside from Keaton's classics, Harold Lloyd, Our Gang, and some of Chaplin do not hold up very well, and these are no exception.
Buster and Fatty make a good team in the "Butcher Boy" and "The Bellboy." Both of these films being with some rather amusing gags, but go haywire with wild plot twists near the end.
And then there's OUT WEST. For the most part, mighty funny stuff, especially when Fatty and Buster team up to stop the bad guy from molesting the salvation army lady. However, there is a horrible scene where a Black Man (Ernie Morrison Sr, father of Sunshine Sammy of the Our Gang silents) is made to dance as some cruel cowboys (and Fatty Himself!) shoot as his feet until the Salvation army lady comes to his rescue and shames Fatty and the cowboys. The fact that this was a common practice in the days when Black men were lynched kills any humor whatsoever in this scene. Fortuntely, Ernie Morrison Sr. (and Jr.) were to play less degrading roles at the Hal Roach studios.
That aside, worth viewing for historical purposes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Only 5 because... June 27 2002
By philrob
Format:DVD
...it would deserve 10 if the music had been composed by somebody who liked Buster Keaton and not some dim-wit specialized in background sounds (or, better say noises) for Pachinko-saloons. But, once the sound set on mute (or any rag-time of your choice), even with some very dated materials, gags like the cleaning of the phone-booth window or stunts as the one from barber to restaurant should be able to convert anybody to a Keaton's fan, even if one didn't know about him before. Which would be a pity, since, although Chaplin was a master of work-polishing, Buster Keaton was (in my judgement) a top-master in inventiveness; as well, due to his very early training, I never saw anybody performing stunts and somersaults the way he could do it: just watch "The Rairodder", and think how many 70 years old could do the same.
By the way, I only noticed the pictures' imperfections after muting the sound
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! March 10 2002
Format:DVD
To give some additional historical perspective on these films and their current condition, lets first examine the history of Fatty Arbuckle.
In 1921, Arbuckle was charged with the rape and murder of Virgina Rappe. These charges were false, but they ruined his career. His films were banned, and it appears that most copies were destroyed. That makes these dvds even more amazing, as the survival of these prints, as poor as some of the are, is almost by pure chance, and a slim chance at that.
These five films are very funny.
There are moments in "The Bell Boy" that defy description.
"The Butcher Boy" is Keaton's first foray into film, which is perhaps all that makes this film essential, as the rest, while amusing, is not the funniest of this group.
"Out West", despite, some very aged racial material, is very irreverent, and very funny. Buster, as the peace-keeper of the saloon, keeps kicking the bodies of deaceased bad guys into a trap door in the saloon floor. This fiulm has perhaps the worst print of all five.
"Moonshine" is truly bizarre, surrealistic humor before surrealism was hip. I wonder what audiences thought of this one.
"The Hayseed" is pretty good, more country bumpkin humor.
If you are a Keaton fan, you need to own this dvd. Now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Arbuckle Keaton and St. John Jan. 12 2002
Format:DVD
The two Arbuckle and Keaton DVDs are both essential viewing for silent film fans. I had heard of Roscoe Arbuckle before I watched these films, but had never seen any of his work. It was a delight then to discover how good a comic he was. Arbuckle is an energetic comedian throwing himself about with abandon. He is a sensation when dressed as a woman and surprisingly convincing. Many of the gags he performs are inspired, like when he decides to put out a raging fire by casually and slowly throwing one cup of water on it then equally casually going to fill up the cup again. Arbuckle's gags have been developed and imitated by loads of subsequent comedians and it becomes clear when watching these films that he has been a major influence on film comedy. Sometimes it is just the little bits of comic business that Arbuckle performs which stand out. His one handed cigarette rolling trick is justifiably a legend.
These films are Arbuckle films. He is the star and the director. However that doesn't mean that he is always the focus of attention. He is very generous with the amount of time he gives to his co-stars. The most famous of his co-stars is, of course, Buster Keaton. Keaton was always grateful to Arbuckle for the start he was given in movies and Arbuckle deserves a lot of credit for seeing the potential in the young Buster. Keaton as supporting player is somewhat different from Keaton as star. For one thing he often smiles and laughs. Keaton fans will not be disappointed by his appearances in these early films. He is already a major talent and if anything more athletic than his later self. Watching Buster constantly fall over in all kinds of ways is to marvel at how he could remain healthy. Arbuckle's other co-star is Al St. John. St. John plays the villain in most of these films.
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