Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: George Nichols

Flirt’s Mistake (1914)

A-flirts-mistake-1914

This is another of the classic Fatty Arbuckle movies from Keystone Studios. It has a simple premise: a philandering husband with a domineering wife (Minta Durfee, Arbuckle’s real-life spouse, who was also in “The Star Boarder” with Chaplin, and “The Rounders” with Chaplin and Arbuckle), and a case of mistaken identity that gives rise to a drawn-out chase and fight. In this case, poor fatty makes the mistake of hitting on a bearded Rajah (Edgar Kennedy, who would later play Daddy Warbucks in “Little Orphan Annie” and a memorable street vendor in “Duck Soup”), who, when seen from behind, appears to be in feminine garb (at least by Western standards). Now, in regard to early movies and race, this is not an especially (ahem) sensitive portrayal of Southeast Asian nobility, but the Rajah is so over-the-top that it’s hard to imagine anyone taking him seriously as a cultural stereotype. What’s more interesting to me is the gender-and-sexual-relations side of things. Fatty gets into trouble specifically because he crosses the gender barrier, and the problem arises from his inability to “read” the gender signals of another culture. His long-suffering wife doesn’t want him killed by the Rajah, but at the end, it’s clearly she who wears the pants and gives him a much-deserved dressing-down, despite his pleas for understanding.

Directed by: George Nichols

Starring: Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Minta Durfee, Edgar Kennedy, George Nichols

Run Time: 8 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

Fatty Joins the Force (1913)

Fatty Joins The Force

A friend asked me who Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was recently, and I said, “before there was Charlie Chaplin, there was Fatty Arbuckle.” This answer serves for casual conversation, but, of course, is an oversimplification, ignoring the degree to which the careers of the two men paralleled and even intersected one another. This is an example of a movie Arbuckle made at Keystone only a few weeks before Chaplin arrived at the lot, and it has a lot in common with the movies I’ve discussed from Chaplin’s Keystone era. It certainly lives up to the formula, “a park, a girl, and a policeman,” with the interesting twist that Fatty himself is the policeman, and a gang of local kids are his nemesis. It includes such recognizable comedic standards as pies in the face, mistaken identities, and clothes stolen while an innocent fool takes a swim. Fatty winds up the worse for the whole experience, even losing his girl (Dorothy “Dot” Farley, later in “The Unholy Three” with Lon Chaney, Sr. and “Pretty Policeman”) to the police captain! Arbuckle may be a bit heavier than the other stars of slapstick, but nearly as athletic in his pratfalls as the stars we remember better today. Mack Sennett, the head of Keystone, makes a cameo appearance as one of Fatty’s fellow officers.

Director: George Nichols

Starring: Roscoe Arbuckle, Dorothy Farley, Mack Sennett

Run Time: 13 Min

You can watch it for free: here.