Fatty and Mabel – 1

Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exposition
R: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. D: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Joe Bordeaux, Alice Davenport, Minta Durfee, William Hauber, Harry McCo. P: Keystone Film Corporation. USA 1914/15

“The biggest thing this picture is missing is a real villain. Arbuckle is obliged to perform double duty and I prefer him to be mischievous but more on the harmless side. Without a more villainous character for contrast, his antics come off as obnoxious and I have no idea why Normand would take him back at the end. A Ford Sterling or Al St. John would have been most welcome. Normand fares better because her character is more sympathetic. She is pursued by her own Electriquette-driving masher and one rather gets the impression that this is not the first time her husband has strayed. She’s a flirty tomboy, exactly the sort of role she was made to play, and it’s enjoyable to watch her dash around Balboa Park in pursuit of her misbehaving spouse. (…)
Both Arbuckle and Normand soon moved on to greener pastures and the real shame of it is that it broke up a charming screen team. While Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exposition is broad and simplistic, the film is saved by their chemistry and obvious affection for one another. Of course, Normand did well for herself in Goldwyn features and Arbuckle teamed with St. John and some stage acrobat named Buster Keaton but we can’t help but wonder what fun Normand would have had in that mix.”
Fritzi Kramer
Movies Silently

Mabel and Fatty viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco, Cal.
R: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mabel Normand. D: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, James Rolph Jr., Mme. Ernestine Schumann-Heink. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1915
Print: Library of Congress

“While this movie is far less entertaining than the comedy in San Diego, it is interesting historically. Obviously, Keystone felt that their two biggest stars, plus the extravagance of the fair itself, could carry the film without a comedy plotline. The scene with the mayor may offer a hint as to why this happened – getting permission to shoot just might not have been as simple as it was at the earlier fair. Or, someone at Keystone may have felt that sending a camera crew 400 miles to San Francisco (as opposed to 100 miles to San Diego), warranted a less risky approach. What will interest people is the footage of post-Earthquake-recovery SF. Some of the buildings of the World’s Fair still stand and even serve as tourist attractions, including the ‘new’ City Hall we see under construction on Market Street. Various views will be familiar to San Franciscans today, although the sheer size and elaborateness of the event outdoes the current waterfront. The early jitney cabs may be of interest to aficionados of classic cars, and the ships to naval historians. All in all, this is a more “interesting,” less exciting movie.”
Century Film Project

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