Fatty’s Jonah Day

WALKER BOOK PAGE 304

Today is the anniversary of the release of the Keystone comedy Fatty’s Jonah Day a.k.a Fatty’s Hoodoo Day, directed by and starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.

This little comedy has a  fairly clean, simple narrative. Arbuckle is reading naughty poetry on a park bench, while across the way his sweetheart (Norma Nichols) sits with her old father (Frank Hayes). When the old geezer dozes off, the girl joins Fatty and they spoon and read poetry. It’s not long however before rival Al St. John shows up with a bouquet to make a nuisance out of himself. Not getting anywhere with the girl, he spoils everything by waking the father up and ratting out the other two. Fatty is furious; he and St John have a fist fight. (Al does a wonderful acrobatic flip). Unfortunately, they knock out the girl with a rock. Cops come and try to arrest Fatty but he gives them quite a lot of difficulty. Finally he climbs to the top of a high pole. Spectacular stunt – -he leaps into water below. The girl jumps off a bridge to rescue him. They two climb out of the water, and resume reading poetry.

This is far from the best way to see the film but it is all that we have to hand:

To learn more about comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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To learn about the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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