Sunday 1 July 2007

That Little Band of Gold (1915) Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle

After watching Mabel and Fatty's Married Life yesterday, now I get to see him propose to her in That Little Band of Gold. Both were released the same year, 1915, but I can't find a release date for yesterday's movie to see which came first. I'm sure there must have been many strange quirks like this back in the days when actors could churn out a film a week.

Anyway, Fatty proposes to then marries Mabel in no time flat, then proceeds to become an unworthy husband, staying out with his friends and getting drunk rather than spending time with her. Combine that with a stereotypically bitter mother-in-law and we're not watching domestic bliss. They manage to make it to the opera but soon the sheer uncouthness of Fatty and a friend of his in an opposite box takes over.

The story is a bitter one. Fatty gets married but promptly steals his friend's date, whereupon the friend squeals on him and you can imagine the rest. Now it may be a telling sign of the era that I didn't recognise all the actors but I did recognise the restaurant Fatty ends up in, leaving his family watching the opera: I've seen Chaplin get into trouble in this restaurant too.

There are name actors here though: beyond Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand, two of the big stars of the era, there are all the usual names from the Keystone studio, most of whom started out as Keystone Kops: Ford Sterling, Slim Summerville, Al St John and Edgar Kennedy. There's even Charley Chase working beyond the counter at the opera. Sterling is painful to watch here but everyone else keeps the side up and Fatty and Mabel are very watchable. This is possibly the best of his films I've seen, consistent throughout a 22 minute running time. It's not great, but it's an easy way to spend time.

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