Fatty’s Faithful Fido (1915)
This one-reel short from Keystone packs in a lot of action, some great stunts, and some unfortunate ethnic humor. Luke the Dog may be the real star this outing, although Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Al St. John also get in some great moments.
Fatty and Al are both members of the Swift Footers Athletic Club, located above One Lung’s Chinese Laundry (uh oh). Fatty is strong while Al is agile. Both of them like the same girl (Minta Durfee, Arbuckle’s wife of seven years at the time). She seems to favor Fatty, although she’s a bit fickle about it, seeming to encourage them to fight. Their fight spills into the street and soon bricks are flying – mostly through the windows of One Lung’s. One Lung (Frank Hayes) comes out to stop the fight, but winds up escalating it. Finally, Fatty’s dog takes a hand and chases Al up a ladder and onto the rooftops. He tears off Al’s jacket and hangs by his necktie, to Al’s obvious discomfort. Eventually, he chooses to chase a cat instead.
The night of the dance, Fatty arrives in all his splendor, and so does Al. Al tries to dance with Minta, but Fatty puts him in his place. Al draws a large cross in chalk on the back of Fatty’s coat, then goes to a hoodlum friend and tells him to get some men over to kill the man with a cross on his back. To demonstrate, he draws the cross on the wall, then, unthinkingly, leans back against it. Now both of them have a cross! Fatty and Minta go into the refreshment room, where she notices the chalk on his back and wipes it off. When the thugs arrive, they quickly find Al and attack him. Fatty breaks it up, and Al makes the mistake of giving away his ploy. Fatty chases him, he tries going up again with the flying rings, but ends up crashing through the floor and landing in One Lung’s laundry vat. Fatty and One Lung lose their balance and fall in, also, and Luke loyally dives in after.
This movie has some of the best stunts I’ve seen from Keystone. Al does backflips, climbs on a rickety-looking ladder over an alleyway, and has several timed falls. Fatty does a great fall onto a wheelbarrow. Luke the Dog does multiple stunts including climbing a ladder, falling back down it, then climbing up again and hanging on to Al by his necktie. However, it also has the unfortunate portrayal of the Chinese laundry man which has pretty much every offensive stereotype about the Chinese you can expect. Hayes squints his eyes and walks funny, he wears what looks like a gi and sandals, there’s even a “No Tickee No Shirtee” sign in the background! I had no idea that reference was so old. In all, it’s a thin plot, but packed full of action.
Note: I am considering nominating this movie for “best stunts” of 1915. If you have seen it and have any thoughts, say so in the comments.
Director: Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle
Cast: Fatty “Roscoe” Arbuckle, Al St. John, Minta Durfee, Frank Hayes, Joe Bordeaux.
Run Time: 14 Min
You can watch it for free: here.