Thursday, May 26, 2016
Fatty's Reckless Fling (USA,1915)
During his first years with Keystone studios, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle often played the roles of helpless men, who could not control themselves and acted like grown up children. His comedic style also lacked the sophistication it would acquire later in 1910s upon his pairing with Buster Keaton. So, Arbuckle’s films during his stay at the studio employed lots of physical gags, knockabout slapstick around ordinary plots. However, he proved to be very popular among audiences since the beginning of his career on early 1910s until a scandal pematurely ended it in 1921.
Henpecked husbands were a common theme in silent comedies and had their heyday in situational comedies of 1920s, although they have been around in previous decades. Arbuckle himself often played this sort of role. Another common element were misunderstandings, usually around socially inadequate behaviors and etiquette.
This film have all aforementioned elements, plus actors with broad, exaggerated gestures. Arbuckle is a henpecked husband by a wife who is domineering, to the point of being rude. Apparently, whenever his wife left him alone he found himself in trouble and, after being caught in a poker game, Arbuckle was locked at home by his wife while she was away.
Arbuckle found a way to leave his apartment. Meanwhile, another neighbor left his house and said good bye to his wife. Unfortunately, the poker players were interrupted by the police and a fight ensued, which gave room to some really silly gags, including typical shots of smoke on actor’s buttocks and messy scenery.
As Arbuckle did not manage to return to his apartment, he found shelter in the neighbor’s house and it made people think he was romantically involved with the wife of his neighbor. This conflict provided the funniest gags of the film, specially one with a bed coming and going between both apartments.
Although this film is not very funny, its plot is easy to follow and it provides a precious historical witness of typical slapstick comedies of 1910s and it has a plenty of action for a film of one reel (around 11 minutes).