Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fatty's Faithful Fido (USA,1915)

In the beginning of film we see a cute scene of Fatty drinking water with his dog Fido. Both of them are close to a Chinese laundry. Fatty enters the place together with Fido and there are some women sweeping the floor. Both Fatty and Al St John love the same woman and the men end up fighting in front of the laundry. The guys keep on antagonizing each other in a typical slapstick fashion and such situation gives room to a plenty of physical gags, including throwing bricks and Fido mercilessly trying to bit Al St John at all costs.
There is a ball at the Chinese laundry and we can clearly see that the woman likes Fatty more than Al St. John. In this scene we can see that Fatty was more agile than it seems at first. Al St. John arrives at the ball, he confronts Fatty and at that same night he hires two other tough man to beat Fatty up. They’d be supposed to identify Fatty based on a cross that was marked on his back. However, that mark was deleted and Al St John had the same cross marked on his back, so the guys mistaken Al St. John for Fatty and starting beat up Al St. John.
Fatty arrives in the middle of this fight and realizes he also had that same cross on his back and he attacks Al St. John too, which causes a generalized violence outbreak in the ballroom. Not even poor little Fido was spared.
As always in Keystone films of 1910s, the physical gags were beautifully performed, mostly due to above-average acrobatic skills of Al St. John (whose legs seemed to be made of rubber in some scenes) and of Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. The supporting actors were regular players of the studio and equally used to play these kinds of films. The gags are rough, even gross, for nowadays’ standards, but slapstick humor was far more common at that era and those films were a huge success, specially among working classes and immigrants, who were the bulk of cinema audiences in the United States at the silent era. Such films had a universal humor, easy to be understood and it did not really matter whether the audiences were formed by foreigners or nationals, which was a factor that helped building up the American identify of immigrants who recently arrived at the country. 

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