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.

 

Tonight on TCM: 2 Silent Comedy Classics Featuring Buster Keaton

Posted in Amusement Parks, Buster Keaton, Comedians, Comedy, Coney Island, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2016 by travsd

Tonight (actually tomorrow) at midnight (E.S.T.) on Turner Classic Movies: two silent comedy classics featuring Buster Keaton :

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Go West (1925)

While among Keaton’s more personal films, aspects of Go West feel more like Chaplin or Lloyd. In this western comedy, Buster plays a drifter named “Friendless” who takes a job on a ranch, where he must prove himself amongst a bunch of mean and manly guys. His main attachment is to a cow named “Brown Eyes”. Yet certain aspects of the film are strongly Keatonesque. He takes the period detail very seriously. Unlike many comedy westerns, for example, Laurel and Hardy’s Way Out West (1938) or the Marx Brothers’ Go West (1940), Keaton makes a real effort to make the location look and feel accurate, which gives the film an entirely different sort of feeling. And the climax, a cattle stampede in the middle of downtown Los Angeles is quite typical of the man who had given us a hundred running policemen in Cops (1922) and dozens of brides in Seven Chances (1925).

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Coney Island (1917)

In this classic comedy short, Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, and Al St. John take turns dating the same girl (Alice Mann) at Coney Island (despite the fact that Arbuckle’s character is married). Inevitably Arbuckle winds up going in drag in a woman’s bathing suit. In addition to priceless period footage of Coney’s Luna Park in its heyday, this film offers the sight of Keaton doing an impressive blackflip, and — even more exotic — crying!

Tonight on TCM: Arbuckle (and his Close Personal Friend William Goodrich)

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Movies, PLUGS, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2016 by travsd

Tonight starting at Midnight: several Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle shorts, some starring the man himself (always a bonus) and several additional treats — shorts starring other comedians directed by Arbuckle during his blacklisted period under the name William Goodrich. On the menu are:

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That Little Band of Gold (1915)

Keystone comedy directed by and starring Arbuckle, with Mabel Normand and Ford Sterling.

This little movie feels a trifle more mature and sophisticated than the usual Keystone comedy, if ever so slightly, touching on the consequences of infidelity, and having notes of pathos. Fatty and Mabel are a wealthy married couple, but Fatty has become a rogue. Mabel and her mother (Alice Davenport) are preparing to go to the opera one night and Fatty comes home sloshed and makes a play for the maid. When the three finally get to the opera house, Fatty spies his friend (Sterling) and his two lady friends and they plot to meet up later so Fatty can make up a fourth. When he joins them later at a nightclub, Fatty steals the girl Ford had his eye on, so Ford blows the whistle on him to Mabel. So far, a run of the mill Sennett farce. But then Fatty and Mabel get divorced! And Fatty is blue. So they get re-married almost immediately.

What’s interesting to me about this film is that it reminds me of a cruder version of Lubitsch — who wouldn’t be making his sophisticated comedies in America until almost a decade later. I’m also interested in the unrealized potential of Arbuckle as a director. He could stretch when he wanted to, but he oddly didn’t always want to. Strangely, many of his late films for Sennett are much more sophisticated storywise than his solo comedies for Comique, which came later but were straight ahead slapstick. Arbuckle was an artisan, sometimes a lazy one, but if he hadn’t died so young in 1933 he might have gone on to do some interesting things as a director.

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My Stars (1926)

Arbuckle as William Goodrich, directs the hilarious “nance” Johnny Arthur in this comedy short .

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Back Stage (1919)

One of the last of Arbuckle’s Comique shorts, co-starring Buster Keaton and Al St. John.

By now, the backstage comedy was a well established silent comedy subgenre, almost obligatory. Mack Sennett, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd had all done comedies with similar settings. This one (like most) rambles muchly, the comedy mostly suggested by available props and routine tasks rather than anything so high-falutin as a plot.

The very first image sets the tone. We think we are looking at a room, but it instantly dissolves as its component pieces of scenery are taken apart by stage-hands revealing a bare stage. This is followed by a short segment in which Arbuckle is splashing some whitewash or paste onto a fence. When a kid won’t stop pestering him, Arbuckle hangs him on the fence and coats him in the goo, which they both discover tastes delicious.

Back in the theatre, a thespian (William Collier, Sr.) arrives and demands the star’s dressing room. Buster shows him the way, then uses a wire to move the pre-rigged star to another door. Then comes a famous bit where it looks like Buster is going down some stairs, until the flat he’s behind is moved and we see he is just going down on his knees to nail something. An eccentric dancer comes (Jack Coogan, Sr, father of Jackie Coogan) and rehearses his act, and keeps accidentally kicking people in the head. Arbuckle does his own humorous dance and falls down. Buster does his own dance with the same result. Then an enormous strongman Charles A. Post), a total jerk, comes in, with a girl (Molly Malone) carrying his luggage, which turns out to include his barbells. He goes to the room with the star, but Arbuckle uses the trick wire to movethe   star to the girl’s room. He then attempts to punch the strongman, but chickens out.  Keaton bonks him with an axe repteadly. No result. “Quit ticklin”, says the strongman. So, they electrify the guy’s barbells, knocking him out. Then they throw him in his room and throw suitcases on top of  him.

Third act: all the vaudeville performers go out on strike, so Buster and Fatty perform all their acts.  First an Asian themed opera. A romantic melodrama (featuring a serenade in the snow). Buster knocks all the scenery over. Then Fatty kisses the girl. The strong man, who has been watching, gets jealous and shoots the girl with a gun! Buster swings up to the balcony from the stage on a rope, grabs the guy and drags him down. Fatty and Buster keep jumping on the strongman but he keeps brushing them off. Finally they drop a trunk on his head and he’s out. In an epilogue, Fatty visits the girl in the hospital. He brings her an apple – then eats it himself.

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Curses (1925)

Another comedy short directed by Arbuckle as William Goodrich, this one a rural caper starring his acrobatic cousin Al St. John, with much parody of the old mellers.

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The Movies (1925)

Another comedy short directed by Arbuckle as William Goodrich. In this crazy one, Lloyd Hamilton plays a young man who looks just like…. Lloyd Hamilton! And doubles for him on a movie set.

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Fool’s Luck (1926) 

Another comedy short directed by Arbuckle as William Goodrich. In this one, Lupino Lane in his character of “The Dude” is due to meet up with his fiance and her old man — just when he learns that he has been cut off from his money and evicted from his apartment.

Tonight on TCM: Fatty Arbuckle First Feature, “The Round Up”

Posted in Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film, Westerns with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by travsd

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Tonight (tomorrow morning) at 1:15am (EST) on Turner Movie ClassicsRoscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s first feature film The Round Up (1920).

Arbuckle was one of the first of the slapstick comedians to make it up from the rough and tumble world of comedy shorts to the headier world of features.  To put that into perspective, when Arbuckle fell from grace with his scandal a year later he was still a much bigger star than his friend Buster Keaton, bigger than Lloyd, and even had the advantage in some ways on Chaplin.

The Round Up, a comedy western, was a very well thought out “next step” vehicle for Arbuckle. He plays a baby faced sheriff named Slim who is frequently ridiculed for his size. The idea of an overweight sheriff is natural fodder for comedy, but it also becomes an opportunity for pathos, and the film makes some attempt to touch the heart strings. “Nobody Loves a Fat Man” bemoans our lonely hero. Poor Roscoe has it bad for a girl named Echo (Mabel Julienne Scott) but alas she loves another. And Wallace Beery is the evil “half-breed” villain. So while Arbuckle splits his pants and falls down and breaks things a lot, he gets to be the hero and save the day. Has to! This is a feature and we need to care about the story, although the constant begging for sympathy tends to strike the modern sensibility as a bit nauseating.

Arbuckle managed to squeeze out an astounding number of features over the next several months. The Round Up remains one of the best of them.

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. 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.

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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Century of Slapstick #88: Fatty’s Tintype Tangle

Posted in Century of Slapstick, Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood (History), Silent Film with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2015 by travsd

Fatty's Tintype Tangle

Today is the 100th anniversary of the release date of the Roscoe Arbuckle comedy Fatty’s Tintype Tangle (1915). Fatty’s photograph (tin type) is accidentally taken with a woman he happens to be sitting next to on a park bench (Louise Fazenda), causing much trouble in both their homes when their spouses find the tintypes. This Mack Sennett short also features Edgar Kennedy as a jealous husband.

To learn more about silent and slapstick film 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 more 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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