Before Chris Farley, there was Roscoe Arbuckle, the original “Fatty falls down” clown whose popularity in silent films once rivaled Charlie Chaplin’s. But he became a pariah following the death of actress Virgina Rappe at an infamous wild party in 1921. The tabloid press had a field day, though Arbuckle was acquitted after three sensational trials. He was the first actor to be blacklisted. This collection of short subjects made at the peak of Arbuckle’s popularity should restore his rightful place in film comedy history. “The Bell Boy,” “The Butcher Boy,” “Out West,” “Moonshine,” and “The Hayseed” are knockabout slapstick gagfests in the classic tradition of Mack Sennett, with whom Arbuckle got his start as one of the Keystone Cops. Despite his heft, Arbuckle proves himself an agile clown. But he is upstaged by his costar, Buster Keaton, then 21 years old (but a 20-year show business stage veteran!). Keaton buffs will thrill to his earliest screen appearances. He makes his auspicious screen debut in “The Butcher Boy” as a general store customer who gets into a sticky situation when he tries to purchase a pail of molasses.
Director: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle
Writer: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Jean C. Havez, Joseph Anthony Roach, Natalie Talmadge
Stars: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St. John, Josephine Stevens, Arthur Earle