By the early 1930s, the storm cloud from Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s famous scandal had lifted. Arbuckle was signed to appear in a series of popular sound shorts for Warner Brothers. And these were just released on DVD! There’s only a half dozen of them, but they are quite funny. Most of them are roughly remakes and rehashes of shorts he had done at his own independent studio Comique, now with the added benefit of getting to hear Roscoe talk. And you know what? He talks just like you think he would. Arbuckle’s death by heart attack in 1933 was a true loss for comedy film. While I don’t think he was any major auteur as a director, the things he could have gone on to do as a comedy star could have been quite great. But alas, it wasn’t to be. As with John Belushi, John Candy and Chris Farley, Heaven appears to want to reclaim our big funny men before their time.
To learn more about Fatty Arbuckle and silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc To learn more history about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.