Monday, February 1, 2016
Those Bitter Sweets (USA,1915)
Considering the usual frantic pace, rather physical gags of Keystone studio films of 1910s, this film is much slower in comparison, providing a more naturalistic, life-like result than usual output of Keystone films in that decade.
In a sunny day, a man is taking his sweetheart for a ride in his car. Another man with a noticeable fake mustache enters the car with them, but, as the first intertitle says “Three is a crowd”. The poor woman ends up barely having a place to sit. The second man is clearly interested in the girl too. Then, the three of them go for a ride in a relatively fast speed for 1915s standards.
One of the girl’s suitors meets her father, but the other one ends up showing up at her house with a dog, then both suitors start fighting. However, the girl makes things complicated by giving preference to one of suitors, then she turns down that suitor in favor of the second one. She goes with one of her suitors to a restaurant, but the other suitor ends up being the waiter of the place and, apparently, he lied to his sweetheart about his actual occupation because his first reaction on seeing the pair is hiding himself rather than immediately confronting his opponent. Then, the waiter puts on some clothes over his uniform as if he had accidentally met the pair in the restaurant, but his lie doesn’t work as the girl sees the uniform under his clothes. In the middle of the argument between the three of them (the girl and both of her suitors), the waiter’s boss shows up, which confirms that the waiter actually worked there.
The turned down suitor-waiter, dominated by jealousy, poisons some chocolates. The restaurant’s delivery man delivers the chocolates to the pair, but the girl ends up giving the box of chocolates to somebody else, instead. The waiter regrets what he did and looks for the pair to have the box of chocolates back, but it was too late. Then, the three of them (again, the girl and both of her suitors) try to recover the box of poisoned chocolates. What follows is a very fast chase (extremely common throughout silent comedies of all American studios), involving more than one means of transportation. It was necessary to be fast, as the box of chocolates ended up being got by a group of people and eaten at any minute.
At this point of film we see something that became one of trademarks of Keystone studios: Beautiful women in bathing suits, something very innovative for the era. The diving scenes of the girls are among the funniest of the film. Of course, the poisoned chocolates weren’t eaten and a tragedy was avoided just in time. A happy end, but it didn’t prevent lots of slapstick from taking place.