Arbuckle & Keaton, Vol. 2
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Silent comedy (and especially Buster Keaton) buffs will thrill to this second volume of five revelatory shorts by Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. "Back Stage," "Coney Island," "The Rough House," "The Garage," and "Good Night Nurse!" were made between 1918 and 1920 at the height of Arbuckle's popularity before scandal tragically cut short his career and forever unjustly tarnished his name. They represent a vital missing chapter in film comedy history. In addition to rescuing Arbuckle from obscurity, they also provide a fascinating nascent glimpse of Keaton. These are his first films, and one can see the seeds of his flowering genius. Arbuckle got his start with Keystone Studio founder Mack Sennett, the original King of Comedy, for whom he made more than 200 shorts in five years. These breakneck, gag-filled reels in which characters run amok show his influence. "Good Night Nurse!" is one of Arbuckle's best, a fever dream in which he finds himself at the mercy of sanitarium doctor Keaton (brandishing a cleaver and drenched with blood). Fans of the "Great Stone Face" will be surprised to see him smiling and laughing as he flirts with Fatty, rather fetchingly disguised in a nurse's uniform. Also of note is a fleeting gag in "The Rough House," in which Roscoe sticks two forks into a pair of dinner rolls and enacts a dance that imitates his former Sennett costar, Charlie Chaplin, who would later expand this routine for his masterpiece, "The Gold Rush." Arbuckle and Keaton's partnership ended on a high note with "The Garage," their last and one of their best collaborations.
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Top customer reviews
Arbuckle was surprisingly agile and light on his feet and was possible even more of a skilled & comedic genius as Keaton (that's saying a lot!). It's sad he had such a tragic demise after being falsely accused of killing a little twit at a party. In those days, it wasn't easy to change the public opinion after such things were out, no matter how much truth followed to clear it up.
Keaton does his amazing flips, turns, and other body magic to endlessly leave you in awe of his talents.
These guys will not disappoint--ever! We watch them often to enjoy what real talent and comedy is and should still be. Miss those guys!!
Alloy Orchestra does a bang up job! I have many silent
films in my collection with more traditional soundtracks that
I like a lot too. But this is a very nice change (and not
annoying or distracting...goes with the movies) They supply more mood and actual sound effects all produced through strange "found" instruments as well as traditional...normally not something I might like....but BOY! Do they know their craft!!! They have won all kinds of awards for their work on silent films! Buy this dvd
set with confidence!
BACKSTAGE (1919): Back from service in World War 1, Buster continues his film career as Fatty's co-star and sometimes director with this behind the scenes look at a vaudeville theater, with Buster and Fatty as its stagehands. Also starring is John Coogan as "The Novelty Dancer" (later referred to as "the jig-man"). Buster and Fatty draw attention to his specialized act by poorly imitating him. In the second reel, the performers (unexplainably) quit the theater and it's up to Buster and Fatty to hold down the fort. They stage a no-talent Arabian Nights kinda act, with Buster dressed and dancing as a flirting slave girl, an act he drew upon from his stint entertaining the doughboys in France the previous year.
GOOD NIGHT, NURSE! (1918): This 2-reeler begins with Fatty trying unsuccessfully to light a cigarette in the rain! Watch for an unrecognizable Buster in this scene dressed as a woman who gets dragged on the sidewalk by an umbrella in the wind. The plot involves a drunken Fatty being sent to the No Hope Sanitarium after bringing 2 gypsies home to the wife. Included here is one of Buster and Fatty's best gag scenes, which is Fatty dressed as a big, homely nurse finger-in-the-mouth flirting with Buster. After Buster finds out he's been 'had', he furiously chases Fatty into a fat-man's relay race.
CONEY ISLAND (1917): "Coney Island" begins with beautiful night shots of Luna Park, a popular Coney Island amusement center that was destroyed by fire in 1944. Then we're shown Buster and his gal watching a (stock footage) parade pass by before heading towards the park. Next, Fatty is seen on the beach trying to escape the boredom of a wife who looks about 20 years his senior. The basic plot of "Coney Island" is Buster, Fatty, and Al St. John competing for the attentions of Buster's gal, using the park and beach to draw gags from. In some shots, you can see crowds of spectators watching the filming. No stone face here, Buster mugs, smiles, and laughs more in this 2-reeler than in any other film he made in the past or future. Like the previous 2-reeler, a beast-woman is included in the cast so that Fatty can gag it up wearing her clothes.
THE ROUGH HOUSE (1917): This being the 3rd film Buster made with Fatty (a calendar on the wall reads April 1917, the month Buster started his film career), he is used in a minor capacity in 3 different roles - a gardener, delivery boy, and police officer. By the time he made "The Garage" 2 years later, he had developed into Fatty's full-time co-star. The plot involves Fatty being manipulated in his own home by his battle-ax mother-in-law who uses him as a servant to impress her uppity friends, who turn out to be crooks. This film was made in the Bronx, NYC. The 242nd Street subway kiosk is shown spewing out Buster and Al St. John dressed as cops. Later in the year, Fatty and his flock moved their operations permanently to Los Angeles.
THE GARAGE (1919): Fatty and Buster are employees at an auto repair shop that also serves as the town's fire department. Product placement ads are everywhere - signs for Firestone, Zerolene, and most notably a portable wheel cart gas pump Buster cranks that reads Red Crown Gasoline, an early name for Standard Oil. Unfortunately, the print of "The Garage" on this DVD is flickery and messy at times. There are spots where you can hardly see what Fatty and Buster are doing, but they don't last more than a few seconds. What's really missing from this 2-reeler is the needed presence of Al St. John, Fatty's real-life nephew and co-star. Al is in almost all the previously made shorts, but by the time of "The Hayseed" and "The Garage", his essential role was replaced by Buster so that he could devote himself to a solo career. This being the gang's final 2-reeler, Buster also started a solo career.
This collection, the second of two put out by Kino, is essential for anyone interested in movies, in comedy, or in just having a good laugh. These are the two-reelers produced by Roscoe Arbuckle, featuring Buster Keaton in supporting parts. The men were good friends, and they have a chemistry that is readily apparent. They play off each other beautifully, especially in one scene of the short entitled Good Night Nurse, in which Arbuckle, in drag as a nurse, flirts with Keaton. The results are so funny that even Keaton couldn't keep a straight face.
These films aren't necessarily perfect. They come from an entirely different era of cinema, in which actors felt comfortable looking at the camera, and winking, and even gesturing to the audience to laugh at what was going on. Don't see them expecting a perfectly told story, or exquisite acting. You should see them to watch two great comedians work with each other, always to hilarious effect.
Arbuckle and Keaton. On DVD. Okay. Life is good sometimes.
Most recent customer reviews
Although most of thee films are two-relers with one reel worth of good material, much of this is good for a...Read more