15 June 2006 | mkilmer
Roscoe Arbuckle's version of pathos.
I saw this Arbuckle short on DVD as the WH Productions reissue, "Fatty's Suitless Days." Fatty is competing with a young Charley Chase, sans moustache, for the affections of Minta Durfee, who in real life would become Mrs. Roscoe Arbuckle. Fatty wants to take her to a dance, but he doesn't own a suit. After some bickering with his mom at her washboard, he steals Charley's dress suit and takes Minta to the dance. Charley arrives at the dance, opens fire on Fatty with his pistol in a scene of gun violence which shocked my modern sensibilities. (Not really, but it's interesting to consider such scenes in the modern context.) To me, most of the talk of Chaplin and the art of pathos is pretentious and overbearing, not that there's anything wrong with that. Either way, this Fatty Arbuckle short has pathos. He loses his suit, and is led off by a police officer wearing nothing but a barrel. (It was a Keystone short, but the cop was not a "Keystone Kop.") I suppose I have to add that the ending is a double-dose of pathos given the way Roscoe's fortunes ended in real life.
If you are a real fan of silent comedy, you will like this one. It is mindless Arbuckle fun. I still get chills when I watch these glimpses of history, this one filmed over nine decades ago. This one shows its age, but that's part of its charm.