Wednesday, February 28, 2018

His Wedding Night (USA,1917)

This film (together with Coney Island, released in that same year) can show to modern audiences how daily life was like back to the 1910s, which sort of items could be sold in a drugstore, for instance (Including beverages), purchasing habits of people, etc.
It has two stars, Keaton was in the beginning of his career at the time and had immediately shown his competence, but he was not yet a star on his own right. He had not yet consolidated his world-famous stone face character. However, it would not take long until Keaton achieved prominence. Roscoe `Fatty’ Arbuckle was a mega star at the time and his comedies were full of physical gags.
In this film, Arbuckle worked as a clerk in a drugstore. Both he and St. John loved the same girl (Alice). Alice`s father ended up giving her hand to Arbuckle. St John got angry and planned a revenge. Meanwhile, Keaton showed up to deliver a wedding dress to Alice and ended up dressing it to show her how it looked like. St John and his accomplices ended up kidnapping Keaton by mistake, there was a huge mess but the expected happy end came.
Although still playing the role of a grown up baby, sometimes with silly facial expressions, we can see the evolution of acting of Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle compared with his films at Keystone studios only some years before. His gestures were more self-contained, gags more elaborate and scenery was modern. Furthermore, there was a troupe of comedians who worked with him and they formed a rather uniform and experienced team.
Of course, that there was still lots of physical humor, especially when his real-life nephew, Al St. John, came to the scene. Nevertheless, it is actually an accomplishment, considering the good physical abilities, not only of Arbuckle himself (who was reportedly even very flexible and an excellent dancer in real life), but also of St. John and Buster Keaton. All those actors excelled in physical humor and that is one of things that made them so popular among audiences back then.
Some stereotypes of slapstick comedies are present here, like rather unromantic arguments among couples, ethnically insensitive jokes, food being thrown, people being thrown as well, etc. However, situations themselves were a bit closer to reality than typically slapstick comedies. 
In the end of film, the actors could show his skills to physically demanding scenes even better. Unfortunately Arbuckle`s career would be virtually over four years later due to a huge scandal. Buster Keaton would enjoy lots of fame in the 1920s and his output stands out to this day. Unfortunately Keaton`s career would fall into obscurity for some decades as of 1930s, but he lived long enough to regain his popularity and further recognition to his work. Al St John would find steady work in westerns for some decades and made a smooth transition to talkies. Even though he was not immensely popular, he got to reinvent himself and remained in films for a very long time. 

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