Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

The Garage (1920)

In The Garage, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton play car mechanics (who are also firemen). A fairly large proportion of the plot of this film involves everyone getting covered in engine oil.

This starts with Fatty Arbuckle re-doing the window cleaning joke from The Bell Boy (although his version isn’t anywhere near as good as Buster Keaton’s), but after that it’s all new stuff (well, mostly all new stuff). There’s some good scenes on a big turntable, Buster Keaton gets his trousers ripped off by Luke the Dog, and at the end everyone gets in a car and drives away into the sunset.

(Forever)
__________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray again. The screenshots are taken from this copy on youtube.

2. The Garage was the very last film Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton made together.

3. So from now on it’s Buster Keaton only for me.

4. I’ll miss you, Fatty.

5. A bit.

__________

Film Information

Title: The Garage
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1920
Duration: 21 minutes
Watch:

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Back Stage (1919)

In Back Stage, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton play the stage hands at a theatre. After spending the first half of the film meeting (and alienating) the various performers, they end up having to put on the show themselves, with fairly predictably disastrous results.

Most of these Fatty Arbuckle/Buster Keaton films seem to oscillate between either being wildly terrible or wildly brilliant, but this one sits somewhere in the middle, really. There’s lots of good sight gags, quite a bit of dancing, and a fairly long fight at the end, but it never hits the highs of their best stuff, unfortunately, while neverbeing egregiously terrible either.

It’s perfectly fine but you wouldn’t exactly miss it if you’d never seen it.

___________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray again. The screenshots here are from this youtube version (which is also the same version that’s on the disc).

2. This features an early version (perhaps the first version) of the famous house wall falling down stunt, though, as also seen in One Week and (most famously) Steamboat Bill Jr.

3. Although as that’s from 1928 it’s beyond the scope of this website for a good few years still.

4. Keeping up the theme of my notes on the One Week review there, I am still seeing instances of this gag backwards through time.

5. I hope there is a 19th century version of it somewhere lurking around for me to find.

__________

Film Information

Title: Back Stage
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1919
Duration: 21 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

The Cook (1918)

After the absolute horror of Good Night, Nurse!, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton return to form with this pretty wonderful film. Which is nice.

As you can probably guess from the title, Fatty Arbuckle is a chef in this, while Buster Keaton plays a waiter. The owner of the restaurant, meanwhile, is a man with an absolutely magnificent moustache. Which is nice.

This first section is really great, with Fatty Arbuckle serving up the food in increasingly absurd ways, while Buster’s all charm and acrobatics as the waiter (a pretty good combination, I’d say). There’s even an extended dance scene, which is pretty fun.

And there’s Luke the Dog. Lovely Luke the Dog.

The middle section is the only real lull here, with Fatty Arbuckle and the rest of the staff eating pasta for a full five minutes for some reason, intercut with occasional scenes of Luke the Dog chasing a bad guy around outside for a while.

But at least he gets a hug for all his hard work at the end.

After the interminable pasta interlude, it’s off to the seaside for a day out. I don’t know why. Maybe they just wanted to go back to Coney Island again (and who can blame them, really).

Anyway, at the beach, Fatty’s going fishing, Buster’s going to Goatland (which looks amazing), and Luke the Dog is still chasing that man around. And then there’s a pretty astonishing stunt at the end, which I have spoiled in the image below, I’m afraid.

It’s pretty good fun, all in all. I liked it.

___________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray yet again. The screenshots are taken from this version on youtube (which seems to be the blu-ray restoration, but with different music).

2. This film was lost until about twenty years ago.

3. But then it was found.

4. I am glad it was.

5. Fatty Arbuckle’s dancing scene in this is also apparently a parody of the dancing seen in Salomé.

6. Another lost film

7. Which unfortunately seems to have stayed lost.

8. One of the few surviving clips from Buster Keaton’s 50s TV shows is him doing/re-doing Fatty’s dance here.

9. But I can’t seem to find it on the internet anywhere, I’m afraid.

10. And I’m not sure it was quite funny enough anyway really to warrant a remake.

___________

Film Information

Title: The Cook
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1918
Duration: 20 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Good Night, Nurse! (1918)

In Good Night, Nurse!, Fatty Arbuckle is drunk. That’s about it.

The first five minutes of this involve a drunken Fatty Arbuckle trying to light a cigarette in the pouring rain. A woman kicks him in the face at one point.

This is as good as it gets.

The rest of the film involves Fatty Arbuckle being sectioned and operated on to cure him of his alcoholism. It’s an unfunny mess, really

__________

Notes:

1. I watched this on blu-ray again, and took the screenshots from here.

2. I found this genuinely distressing.

3. And didn’t like it at all.

4. Although a pillow fight resulting in a the sudden wave of feathers following Fatty down the hall like the blood gushing from the lift in The Shining looked quite nice.

__________

Film Information

Title: Good Night, Nurse!
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1918
Duration: 20 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Moonshine (1918)

In Moonshine, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton play some sort of government agents trying to capture illegal bootleggers making, well, moonshine out in the hills somewhere. It’s brilliant.

There’s a kind of manic energy to everything here, and a lot of inventiveness throughout. Condense this down to six minutes, animate it, and replace Fatty Arbuckle with a rabbit of some kind and you’d have something pretty good, I reckon.

_________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray. The version I took the screenshots from seems to be an exact copy of that one.

2. With the same captions.

3. Of which there are a lot.

4. Including a lot of self-referentiality

5. Which is nice.

6. And builds well into the ending.

7. Which I loved.

8. And which reminded me of David Lynch again (Lost Highway, this time).

9. I hope I have accidentally discovered his secret source of inspiration now.

10. And the key to understanding everything.

11. Also, it’s kind of a shame that this one is the worst quality restoration so far (switching, sometimes frame by frame, between looking absolutely pristine and hauntingly ghostly), as a lot of the good visual gags sometimes get lost in the murk.

___________

Film Information

Title: Moonshine
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1918
Duration: 18 minutes
Watch: Youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

The Bell Boy (1918)

The Bell Boy is the seventh Fatty Arbuckle/Buster Keaton collaboration (or at least the seventh surviving one), and probably the best yet, in which the pair of them play Bell Boys at a dysfunctional hotel.

The plot of this is basically that Fatty Arbuckle is utterly bored at work and decides to piss around. It’s a pretty good plot, to be honest, and beats the usual Fatty Arbuckle storyline, where he’s just relentlessly unpleasant for 20 minutes for reasons I find difficult to discern.

It’s also an almost non-stop cavalcade of jokes (including an incredible window cleaning gag from Buster Keaton), with a nice line in slightly surreal humour, and some good use of pulleys and contraptions too, which I always like (though nothing on the scale of the stuff Buster Keaton contrives in The Scarecrow)

Towards the end, they run out of hotel jokes and stage a bank robbery instead, presumably so Buster Keaton can show off his incredible range of acrobatic skills. There’s a five minute fight, followed by a motorbike chase, and a runaway tram. It’s pretty exciting.

THE END

__________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray yet again. The stills are captured from this youtube version.

2. I liked this one a lot, although it’s still probably only the third best hotel based silent film I’ve watched this year, after these two wondrous marvels.

3. This one also has a (very short) stop-motion sequence (I think), so keeps up the hotel/animation theme of The Electric Hotel and Hotel Electrique, even if only for about a second.

4. Also there’s a shaving scene, but rather than being pretty delightful, like the one in Hotel Electrique, this one is just utterly interminable.

5. And probably the only part of this I actually disliked.

6. This might also be the first Fatty Arbuckle film I’ve watched where he’s not just an absolute arsehole.

7. Which makes a nice change of pace.

8. And also the scene where he and his girlfriend drive around in a car for a bit reminded me of this bit from the new Twin Peaks for some reason.

9. Which was nice.

10. (This one also had a brief shot of a dog in it but it wasn’t Luke the Dog at all unfortunately it was some other dog entirely)

__________

Film Information

Title: The Bell Boy
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1918
Duration: 25 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Out West (1918)

Out West is another 20 minutes of silent comedy directed by and starring Fatty Arbuckle, with able support from Buster Keaton. This one sees Fatty Arbuckle indulging in all the staples of the Western – vagrancy, theft, murder, train top chases, gunfights, bar brawls, extreme racism that’s incredibly unpleasant to watch, casual participation in genocide, and everything else that was the style at the time.

Yeah, this one takes a turn for the unpleasantly racist halfway through, and no amount of horses getting drunk can save it after that, to be honest.

__________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray again, which was in plain normal black and white.

2. But I captured the screenshots from this tinted version on youtube.

3. This one also stars Buster Keaton’s dad near the start.

4. But beyond that I don’t have too much to say.

__________

Film Information

Title: Out West
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1918
Duration: 20 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Coney Island (1917)

In Coney Island, Fatty Arbuckle and his usual gang of friends go to Coney Island for the day. Hijinks ensue.

This one is a lot of fun and there’s a lot to enjoy in it, not least simply looking at Coney Island a hundreds year ago, which looks magnificent. The downhill dodgems on an undulating Mario Kart style track looks especially amazing.

I also liked this sullen looking baby eating an ice cream quite a bit. The true essence of all summer holidays there in one wonderful picture.

Beyond the wondrous nature of Coney Island itself, this short has a lot more in it that I liked than the last few I watched. I liked, in no particular order, Fatty Arbuckle’s incredible swimming technique; the occasional well-placed piece of fourth-wall breaking; Fatty Arbuckle eating an entire scoop of ice cream in one go; Buster Keaton doing a back flip just because he can; and Buster Keaton’s sheer unbridled delight at accidentally smacking Fatty Arbuckle in the face with a hammer.

Even Luke the Dog turns up for a bit. And at the end Buster Keaton kisses a girl.

I would quite like to Coney Island, a hundred years ago.

__________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray again. The screenshots are captured from this copy on youtube.

2. The music on the Blu-Ray version was pretty rubbish, unfortunately.

3. I should probably try syncing it up with this Godspeed You Black Emperor track at some point.

4. But I’d probably get my youtube account blocked for copyright violations

5. So maybe some other time, who knows.

__________

Film Information

Title: Coney Island
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1917
Duration: 25 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Oh, Doctor! (1917)

Oh, Doctor! is another Fatty Arbuckle/Buster Keaton collaboration. This time Fatty Arbuckle plays a reckless, feckless doctor caught up in a complex (or at least convoluted) plot involving gambling, hustling, theft, and seduction, while Buster Keaton plays his dandyish son.

I can’t really think of much to say about this, I’m afraid. It was amiable enough, and at least it tried something different, rather than relying on Fatty Arbuckle’s usual staple of filling up any spare five minutes with everlasting food fights.

Also I liked this joke quite a lot, though I’m not sure exactly why.

___________

Notes

1. I watched this on blu-ray again. I captured the stills from this slightly grubby version on youtube.

2. This was a marked improvement on yesterday’s viewing, though it still lacked any stand-out scenes

3. I’m missing Luke the Dog quite a lot right now.

4. Hopefully he turns up again soon.

___________

Film Information

Title: Oh, Doctor!
Director: Fatty Arbuckle
Year: 1917
Duration: 24 minutes
Watch: youtube

Categories
This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

His Wedding Night (1917)

His Wedding Night is the third Fatty Arbuckle/Buster Keaton collaboration of 1917, and by far the worst so far. This one involves Fatty Arbuckle making an egg cream, indulging in mild racism and homophobia, date raping a woman, and sticking his head up a horse’s arse.

I did not like this one at all, although Buster Keaton looks quite fetching in a wedding dress.

___________

Notes

1. I watched this on Blu-Ray again. I grabbed the screenshot from this youtube version.

2. Which appears to be the same as the version in the boxset, actually, with the same soundtrack.

3. I was going to be as charitable as I could and say this was “of its time”.

4. But it’s not really.

5. It’s just a bit shit.

__________

Film Information

Title: His Wedding Night
Directors: Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton
Year: 1917
Duration: 20 minutes
Watch: youtube