Arbuckle and Keaton, Vol. 1 [Import]
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
The story goes that in the late 1910's, Arbuckle was America's second-most-popular comedian, bowing only to Charlie Chaplin. When Arbuckle met up with Buster Keaton, he recognized Keaton's comedy strengths and debuted Keaton in his movies as an ever-reliable sidekick.
Yet based on the evidence shown here, Keaton in even secondary roles was someone to keep an eye on, while Arbuckle's appeal has assuredly diminished over the years. Unlike Chaplin or the solo Keaton, Arbuckle has little of a persona to fall back on. One can imagine how Chaplin's Little Tramp or Keaton's Stone Face would react in a given situation. But Arbuckle seems to change his stripes whenever any gag, in or out of character, presents itself. About the only persona that emerges for Fatty is that he's...well, fat.
And the plotlines, concocted mostly by Arbuckle, are just as arbitrary as his character. The short The Bellboy (1918) begins in a hotel and segues strangely to a bank that's being robbed. The Butcher Boy (1917, and Keaton's film debut) begins in a grocery store and switches to a girls' boarding school.
But unlike Arbuckle, who all but winks at the audience in an attempt to win their love, Keaton plays straight no matter the situation and scores points all around. Out West (1918) presents Keaton as a barroom gunslinger, and just by force of personality, he makes you believe it. And heaven knows, nobody could take a fall or elaborate a simple gag better than Buster.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
...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... Read morePublished on June 27 2002 by philrob
The Alloy Orchestra has no idea what they're doing - the idea is to support the film, not compete with it. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2001 by K. Lundy
These shorts, made between 1917 and 1919, reveal optimism on the faces of Buster and Fatty before the future troubles of scandal, alcoholism, and domestic problems altered their... Read morePublished on April 25 2001 by Cheated
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