Archive for the Fatty Arbuckle Category

Where Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Brooklyn Vitaphone Shorts

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by travsd

There’s no way the Travalanche readers won’t LOVE this article and the blog it comes from. Thanks John Bengtson!

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

(C) 2017 Google. Looking south, the recently demolished Vitaphone Studios (yellow outline) in relation to many of Roscoe’s filming sites. The landmark Vitagraph smokestack, for the moment still standing, appears at bottom due right of the “North” marker. (C) 2017 Google.

Starting at page 2 below, this multi-page post reveals more than two dozen Brooklyn movie locations filmed over 85 years ago. Click each image for a larger view.

The Silent Clowns - MoMA Arbuckle filming Hey Pop at 3rd Ave and 80th in Bay Ridge – see page 7 below.

The recently demolished Vitagraph (Vitaphone) Studio, once standing at E 14th between Chestnut and Locust in the Midwood community of Brooklyn, holds a giant place in cinema history. One of the earliest and most prolific studios, it was acquired by Warner Bros. in 1925, where it became instrumental in the widespread production of talking pictures.

ca The Chestnut Ave side of the studio – Brooklyn Public…

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Tonight on TCM: Silent Comedies with Dogs

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by travsd

Today Turner Classic Movies is showing canine related films most of the day. As a digestif, they have also devoted Silent Sundays to the same theme. The fun starts at midnight.

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Love My Dog (1927)

In this silent Our Gang short, Farina and Joe Cobb’s dog Oleander (Pete the Pup) is taken to the pound and the kids have to raise the money to spring him! Tiny Sandford plays a lawyer.

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Number, Please? (1920)

While the climax to this Harold Lloyd short is one of the film’s best parts, the set-up is convoluted. Harold and a rival (Roy Brooks) vie for the attentions of a girl (Mildred Davis) at an amusement park. When her dog gets lost, she wants to go up in a hot air balloon operated by her uncle. The balloon will only hold two. The girl announces she will go up with whichever beau gets her mother’s permission first. The rival heads for the mother’s house in a car. Harold runs to a telephone so he can call the mother for permission. This would seem easy…but it’s a public phone in a hotel. The hilarious part is the succession of obstacles which prevent him from doing this simple thing. Then he winds up with a lost purse, which he finally gives to a goat to eat so he won’t be arrested for stealing. But it turns out to have been the girl’s purse, complete with the balloon tickets….

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Fatty’s Faithful Fido (1915)

For a time, Fatty Arbuckle was sharing his billing with a pooch named Luke. In this little short Luke has Fatty’s back in a rivalry with spiffy dude Al St. John over the the attention of Minta Durfee. After Fatty and Luke give Al a beat-down in the streets (and on the roofs) of Chinatown, Al literally marks Fatty for revenge, drawing an “x” on his back, the better for two hired thugs to identify him at the dance that night so they can give him a drubbing. Al’s plan gets thwarted though. And how’s it end? Well, what’s the default ending in half the Keystone comedies? That’s right — everyone falls into a tub of water.

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Fatty’s Plucky Pup (1915)

As he often does, in this film Roscoe plays a good-for-nothing layabout who lives with his mother (Phyllis Allen). He smokes in bed and starts a fire. Then he gives a dog a bath in a washtub, ruining the laundry. He is also fond of flirting with Lizzie the girl next door (Josephine Stevens). Later he brings Lizzie to an amusement part, where she will be kidnapped by a gang of shell game operators led by Edgar Kennedy. Luke the Dog alerts Fatty to the situation and the two of them (joined by the Keystone Kops) come to her rescue. The film contains a memorable shot of Mack Sennett’s famous treadmill-scrolling backdrop combo that gave a very cartoonish impression of the subject running (or riding a bike as the case may be) with the background going by behind them.

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Dog Daze (1925)

In this earlier Our Gang short, the kids all have pooches that perform specialty tricks. When they manage to stop rich girl Mary’s runaway pony, she invites them to her ritzy party, where the dogs reveal that they are not all angels.

 

Chaplin & Arbuckle in Their Only Bona Fide Team-Up: The Rounders

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2015 by travsd

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Today 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 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 find out 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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Tonight on TCM: Seminal Silent Comedy Shorts

Posted in Charley Chase, Charlie Chaplin, Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Mabel Normand, Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2015 by travsd

Tonight starting at midnight, Turner Classic Movies will be screening several classic silent movie shorts, some of which are downright pivotal in American comedy history. Just click on links below for more info on each comedian mentioned. Note: they don’t give specific times for each film; shorts are all strange, unpredictable lengths so they just give them all in a block. When I DVR them, I find that the only way is “all or nothing”. But according to TCM, they will be presented in the order below. It’s nice little program, suggesting something about the evolution of the comedy short under Sennett’s watch, and the passing of the torch between comedy stars.

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The Curtain Pole (1909)

The film that started it all. It may be too much to say The Curtain Pole is America’s first film comedy, but it is Mack Sennett’s first film comedy and since he’s the guy who laid the foundation for most of what came later, this is the one that counts. The Curtain Pole was made while Sennett was still at Biograph; Sennett wrote the script and stars in the film and D.W. Griffith directed. At the time, the top comedy films in the U.S. were all coming from France, most of them starring the immortal Max Linder. Here Sennett apes the style of those imported French farces so much as to make it seem a parody. Sennett’s character, M. Dupont (complete with top hat and some very clownish make-up) is helping a woman (Florence Lawrence) hang a curtain when he accidentally breaks the rod. Not to worry, he declares! He goes to town, buys a new one, stops off at the bar and gets wasted, and then rides back in a hansom cab, destroying everything he encounters along the way with his swinging, bad-ass curtain pole. The phallicism of this comic concept is positively Roman. Or maybe we should say Gallicism? This was perhaps the most extreme example of Sennett’s Francophilia in action. It is a similar phenomenon to the Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence having been set in Athens – living in the shadow of the older, better established culture. Later homages would make a more sensible effort to borrow situations and plots from French farces without feeling the need to make the characters actual Frenchmen. But to make sure no one was confused, he would still label most of his films “Farce-Comedies” right in the opening credits both at Biograph and at Keystone.

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On His Wedding Day (1913)

An early one from Sennett’s own comedy shop, Keystone. A cross-eyed bride (Dot Farley) and her family are waiting for a wedding to start. Ford Sterling shows up as the groom. His flowers make everyone sneeze. The girl runs away in consternation. Everyone goes to look for her. The Ford sees a good looking babe with another guy and tries to horn in on the action. Another guy hires bums to beat Ford up and they do. Ford managaes to knock the other guy and a cop down. Everyone chases him. More cops come and chase him. He climbs onto a roof, goes down a chimney — back into the parlor, where the waiting family is ready to start the wedding. The cops follow him into the room, but the bride beats them off.

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Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life (1913)

A real classic of the genre — it’s what a lot of people think of when they think of silent comedy. A melodrama parody, it features Ford Sterling in top form as a mustache-twirling villain who vies for Mabel Normand’s affections. When she won’t give in, he and his two henchmen tie her to the railroad tracks. Meanwhile her boyfriend the hero, played by Mack Sennett, enlists the help of real life race car driver Barney Oldfield, who races him to the rescue.

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The Speed Kings (1914)

This one reel short stars Ford Sterling, Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Barney Oldfield again — as himself. Shot against the backdrop of an actual auto race (a frequent gambit of producer Mack Sennett’s) it tells the tale of Papa Ford Sterling trying to curb Mabel’s infatuation with driver Teddy Tetzlaff. Arbuckle plays a masher.

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The Knockout (1914)

The Knockout is one of the premiere boxing comedies. Today it is usually marketed as a Chaplin film, although it really stars Fatty Arbuckle. Chaplin has a small (but funny) turn as a referee. Fatty is drawn into the boxing world by a bunch of street toughs led by Al St. John who try to humiliate him in front of his girl (Minta Durfee). They haven’t counted on the fact that bricks bounce off of Fatty’s bean, or that he can lift 500 lb weights. He dispatches the punks in short order at the neighborhood gym. (Minta dons male drag so she can enter the gym to watch). Then gangster Mack Swain books Fatty to fight the champ (Edgar Kennedy, who’d actually been a boxer in real life) leading to our main comic set piece. The bout spurs Fatty into a violent rampage. The Keystone Kops are called, leading to a rooftop chase and a fall through a skylight onto a fancy party in the loft below. The Kops throw a rope around Fatty as though he were an elephant they were trying to bring down. He drags them all down to the pier and chucks them in the drink.

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Recreation (1914)

Though amusing in spots, it’s one of Charlie Chaplin‘s less distinctive efforts, being one of several in which he and his cast improvise their comedy in the park. And this is sort of a third string cast, containing none of the other well known Keystone stars we usually delight to see interact with Chaplin: instead of Arbuckle, Normand, Sterling, Kennedy, Conklin, Swain and company….we get Charles Bennett, Edwin Frazee, Edward Nolan and Helen Carruthers. The plot: a tramp, a girl, a sailor, some cops, some fisticuffs — and then everyone falls in the pond. (This happens in about 50% of early Keysone Comedy).

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The Rounders (1914)

The Rounders is significant for being 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 Chaplin and Arbuckle 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.

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Leading Lizzie Astray (1914)

Minta Durfee plays the titular Lizzie, a farmer’s daughter. Roscoe “Fatty Arbuckle” (her real life husband, who also directed) is her sweetheart, a hand on her father’s farm. Into their life rides trouble in the form of a rich city slicker (Ed Brady). He and his chauffeur (Edgar Kennedy) are driving past the farm when they get a flat tire. As Kennedy changes it, the city slicker flirts with the girl. Fatty too becomes occupied with the car, bringing his superhuman strength to bear, lifting the car so the chauffeur can take off the old tire, and blowing up the tire with his own breath. (Fatty exhibited this comical trait in several films. He should have done a lot more of it, it would have helped define his screen character),

Later, Lizzie sneaks away with city the slicker. He brings her to a café, where everything is fast and little bit scary. (Among the patrons at this unruly establishment are Mack Swain,Phyllis Allen, Al St. John, and Charles Parrott, i.e. Charley Chase as a cowboy).  Lizzie doesn’t like it here and wants to leave bar, but the guy wont let her. Meanwhile Fatty, much saddened by Lizzie’s departure has been in pursuit. Recognizing the car parked out front, he enters, beats everyone up, throws several of them through a wayy, and then throws the piano, just for good measure. He is reunited with Lizzie. They kiss.

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Hash House Mashers (1915)

One of the earliest comedies to star Charley Chase (here still billed as Charles Parrott). Here he plays the young lover of Virginia Chester. The pair live in a boarding house, and he’s the only one of the crazy creeps in the house with beau potential. Yet, in order to convince her parents he’s worthy, he must put on a beard for a disguise. And it actually works! Mack Sennett directed this at a time, when his early career as a comedy director was winding down. Withing a few months the demands of running a studio were earing too much of his time to direct many films personally (although he would continue directing as late as 1935).

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Ambrose’s First Falsehood (1914)

Most folks who know Mack Swain at all nowadays know him as Charlie Chaplin’s prospecting partner in The Gold Rush (1925). Fewer know that ten years earlier he’d been a comedy star in his own right, appearing in a series of comedies for Mack Sennett in which he played a character known as “Ambrose”, helping to fill the void left by Chaplin’s recent departure with such frequent co-stars as Chester Conklin. In Ambrose’s First Falsehood , he tells his wife (Minta Durfee) that he is off to San Francisco on business. Cavorting at a bar with pal Charles Parrott (a.k.a. Charley Chase) and his girl (the vivacious Cecile Arnold), he gets into a brouhaha and never makes the train. That’s good news and bad news. The train gets into a wreck and, hearing the news, Mrs. Ambrose is worried sick. Edgar Kennedy plays the barkeep.

For more on silent comedy film history see 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

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For more on show biz historyconsult 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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Wished on Mabel

Posted in Century of Slapstick, Comediennes, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Mabel Normand, Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2015 by travsd

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Today marks the anniversary of the release date of the Keystone comedy Wished on Mabel. 

Mabel Normand starred in and directed the short, which was improvised and shot in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Mabel introduces her beau (frequent co-star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle) to her mother (Alice Davenport). They go off to another part of the park to frolic and a thief comes and steals the mother’s watch. She informs a cop (Edgar Kennedy). Fatty finds the watch and gives it to Mabel. The thief tries to get it back….and much more of the same ensues. Oh yes, and a bee lands on Mabel’s nose.

For more on slapstick film history see 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

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For more on show biz historyconsult 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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Chaplin, Arbuckle & Sterling in “Tango Tangles”

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2015 by travsd

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Today marks the anniversary of the release of the Keystone comedy Tango Tangles, co-starring Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and Ford Sterling, directed by Mack Sennett.

This is another of those Keystone films that improvise comedy in a real-life setting, in a real life situation, this time at a Venice (California) area dance hall. Arbuckle and Sterling play two musicians in the band. Chaplin plays a variation on his famous screen character; at this early stage, it was still in flux. Thus, while he plays a drunken masher whose behavior is an all respects recognizable as “Charlie”, he does so without the little mustache! An interesting and rare combination. He keeps muscling in on Arbuckle’s and Sterling’s girls with predictable results: fisticuffs. Sadly, this was Sterling’s last film with Chaplin; the former left Keystone to star in his own productions a few months later.

Part of the pleasures of this film are documentary in nature: seeing all the real-life people dancing in the background, and even better watching their reactions to the behavior of the Keystone comedians. Sennett can’t control them of course; he’s not paying them. So they just go ahead and laugh at the free performance with little or no awareness that they’re part of the show themselves — still less that people would be watching them a century later.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy film history see 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

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For more on show biz historyconsult 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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Mabel and Fatty’s Married Life

Posted in Century of Slapstick, Comediennes, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Mabel Normand, Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2015 by travsd

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Keystone comedy Mabel and Fatty’s Married Life (not to be confused with Mabel’s Married Life, released 7 months earlier).

In this Mabel Normand and Roscoe Arbuckle play a middle class couple, reading a book together on a park bench. Suddenlt, from out of nowhere, an organ grinder’s monkey attacks them. This leads to a spat with the organ grinder. The monkey disappears and the organ grinder swears an oath of vengeance.

Later, Mabel finds herself at home alone, and exceedingly nervous. Her first brush with an intruder proves to be a false alarm — Fatty has just come home to look for some papers for his business. But the second time it some prove to be a B & E by the organ grinder and his monkey and it’s time to call in the Keystone Kops, led by Al St. John. 

 

For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t 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

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

For more on show biz historyconsult 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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