Film #254: His Wedding Night (1917)

hwndirector: Roscoe Arbuckle (Fatty)
language: silent
length: 19 minutes
watched on: 26 December 2016 (plane 5/6)

Along with Cops, this was also in Air France’s Buster Keaton collection, and was randomly the one I decided to watch next. It’s actually not a Buster Keaton vehicle, and was made by another comedian I hadn’t heard of called Fatty Arbuckle. It’s a hundred years old this year.

Some things haven’t changed, and some things definitely have, in that century. I was going to say we don’t have comedians or characters who are just called Fatty, but then there is Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect. We’re also (sensibly) a bit more sensitive about consent and related issues than this movie, although the related tropes of the Nice Guy and the Friendzone are still around.

Basically this movie is about Fatty (a professional con, and liquor smuggler in prohibition-era America) and his girlfriend who he wants to marry. They’re very cute together. But his girlfriend has to fight off Al, the Rival – the original Nice Guy. He gets very aggressive when she rebuffs his advances (but he gets his just desserts, don’t worry). Buster Keaton shows up about halfway through, immediately falls flat on his face, as he’s wont to do, to deliver the girlfriend’s wedding dress. But he ends up showing it to her by trying it on himself – as a result, Al steals him away instead of the girlfriend. He tries to force the girl to marry him but he marries Buster instead. Gay marriage, how hilarious!!!

The cryptic comment about consent above is actually about a weird, and totally unnecessary, scene in which Fatty uses chloroform to knock out women who come into his drug store, so he can kiss them without their knowledge. He winks at the camera, like hey guys, wouldn’t you all love to do this? But he has to also knock out an old man in the corner who starts to complain. And the second woman he tries it on just drinks the chloroform and is on her merry way – wait, what? I dunno, except for generally adding to Fatty’s established con-man character (we already know that he swindles rich people and pushes liquor), it doesn’t really add to the movie. It’s an interesting look at what used to be acceptable. I’d hope that such scenes wouldn’t make it into a movie these days, but I fear that’s also not the case. But there is a vocal crowd who will call them out on that now. And it’s better that way.

Anyway, I wasn’t as impressed with this one as with Cops (one other issue was that it’s missing a soundtrack – Cops had a nice piano accompaniment, and I think this was supposed to but didn’t), but it was enjoyable, and it might be the earliest movie I’ve watched, except for some ancient shorts that are more akin to modern animated gifs. I was running out of time on the plane, though, and I was getting tired due to imminent jet lag, so I abandoned this series and went for another feature film, before it was time to land in Paris and continue back to Scotland from there.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: