September 7 marks the anniversary of the release date of the Keystone film The Rounders (1914), the only honest-to-God co-starring vehicle of Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and handily one of Chaplin’s best comedies at Keystone.
The Rounders casts the two as a couple of drunken lodge brothers out for a night on the town, always one step ahead of their exasperated wives (Phyllis Allen and Minta Durfee). The physical rapport of the two comedians is brilliant – the sight of Arbuckle and Chaplin in evening clothes, arms locked together, stumbling down the street in total synchronization is indelible, as is the image of the enormous Arbuckle dragging the passed-out Chaplin down the sidewalk like a ragdoll. In the end, the two fall asleep in a sinking rowboat. Now that’s drunk. If one didn’t know Chaplin was such an abstemious chap, one might suspect that he are Arbuckle had enjoyed many such sprees together. It’s such a shame they weren’t able to team up like this again.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy, including early Keystone classics like “The Rounders” please check out 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