Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Frank Hayes

Fatty’s New Role (1915)

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle seems to be imitating Charlie Chaplin’sLittle Tramp” character in this one reel comedy from Keystone about a homeless man’s efforts to patronize a bar. Arbuckle brings his own personal style, however, and a subplot about a mad bomber and a prank on the tavern owner makes this different from any obvious slapstick models.

Fattys New RoleFatty wakes up in a hayloft and combs his hair in front of a cracked mirror hanging on a fence. He is dressed in ill-fitting clothes and seems to have several days’ growth of beard. He smokes a cigar. He sees a dog and panics, perhaps expecting to be chased off the property, and finds himself in front of “Schnitz’s Bar.” He goes in and asks for a refill on his empty liquor bottle. The bartender (Slim Summerville) agrees, but then gets annoyed when he starts taking free samples of the food that is laid out for a breakfast buffet. The tavern owner (Mack Swain) comes out to moderate and takes the food back and also dumps out Fatty’s bottle. Then he forcefully ejects Fatty. Fatty breaks his bottle open and takes out the handkerchief inside, wrings it out into a glass and takes a drink.

Fattys New Role1Back at the tavern, some of the patrons have seen a newspaper article about a bomber that has destroyed three taverns after being ejected for stealing food. They decide to play “a prank” by writing a threatening note which seems to be from Fatty. Meanwhile, Fatty runs into a rich gentleman (Edgar Kennedy) who gives him some money. He uses it to buy a round block of smelly cheese. The patrons and staff are clearing out of the tavern as the appointed time draws near, but Mack is still hanging around nervously, jumping at the slightest sound, when Fatty wanders back in with his cheese tucked under his coat. Mack finally panics and runs away, tearing through the streets of the city and leaving Fatty alone in the bar. He eats his cheese and pours himself free drinks, getting bolder and thirstier as he goes. Finally, he heads down to the basement to investigate the barrels of booze on hand. Mack has found some Keystone Cops to come back to the bar with him, thinking it has already blown up When they get there, Fatty is standing on a whiskey barrel with a mallet in the basement and he hits it, causing an explosion that knocks him upstairs and into the cops’ arms. Fatty finally passes out from all the booze.

Fattys New Role2I was a tad hungover when I watched this, so not really in condition to appreciate all the drinking humor. I do think that Arbuckle manages to give the “tramp” character an original portrayal, somehow managing to keep his good-natured innocence even as he portrays an alcoholic bum. The disc I watched this on claimed the movie features “Mack Swain and Ford Sterling.” I spotted Swain well enough, and there’s a number of other recognizable Keystone players, but I never saw Sterling. I think it’s a mistake, because imdb, Wikipedia, and “The Silent Era” all give similar cast lists without Sterling’s name on them. Fatty does get a lot of screen time alone in this movie, despite the large cast, and some of the funniest bits are just him being drunk or doing bits of business by himself.

Director: Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Slim Summerville, Mack Swain, Edgar Kennedy, Joe Bordeaux, Glen Cavender, Luke the Dog, Al St. John, Fritz Schade, Frank Hayes

Run Time: 13 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

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.

Fattys Faithful FidoFatty 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.

Fattys Faithful Fido1

Not, I repeat NOT an Asian American.

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.

Careful up there, Al!

Careful up there, Al!

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

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Fatty “Roscoe” Arbuckle, Al St. John, Minta Durfee, Frank Hayes, Joe Bordeaux.

Run Time: 14 Min

You can watch it for free: here.