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Virtually unseen by contemporary audiences until now, these two reel shorts offer a priceless view of the slapstick antics of two influential legends. Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was at the creative zenith of his career, second in popularity only to Chaplin, while Keaton was stepping before the cameras for the first time. The Bell Boy (1918) has Arbuckle and Keaton as bellboys at a small town hotel, which they eventually (of course) completely wreck. The Bell Boy features Arbuckle's classic "Shaving Routine, where he progressively turns a Raputin-like character into General Grant, Abraham Lincoln, and then into the Kaiser! The Butcher Boy (1917) contains Arbuckle's famous "Knife Juggling" bit, Keaton's first film appearance in his classic "Can of Molasses" routine, and the 265-pound Arbuckle romping around in drag -- with "Mary Pickford" curls no less -- at an all-girl private school. Out West (1918) is Arbuckle's first attempt at movie parody -- poking fun at the already clichéd cowboy western. Alas, the film also contains some heavy racism (usually rare in Arbuckle films), which today hurts much of the humor of this otherwise very funny short. Interestingly, the idea for Out West came from Arbuckle's "script girl" Natalie Talmadge (there weren't actually any scripts!) -- later to be Keaton's first wife. Perhaps the definitive Comique comedy, Moonshine (1918) is a parody of Arbuckle's own freewheeling comedy style, filled with inside jokes, and Arbuckle's breaking character to explain plot flaws! After easily defeating the hillbilly mountaineers, Arbuckle and Keaton conclude the film with a stinging parody of rival Charlie Chaplin's "losing the girl" pathos-type endings. The Hayseed (1919) is notable for being the only Arbuckle Comique film where Buster Keaton -- later known as "The Great Stone Face" -- does not either laugh or smile on screen! Also featured is trick dance comedian John Coogan, child star Jackie Coogan's father, a fact that frightened Chaplin into quickly hiring Jackie for The Kid (1921), before Roscoe got him!

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KI2042 Arbuckle & Keaton Vol. 1 DVD (1917-19/5 silent shorts) $29.95 $26.99