Buster Keaton

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Good Night, Nurse

Good Night, Nurse was Buster's tenth short with Roscoe Arbuckle, released about four months after The Bell Boy. Buster plays a doctor (Dr. Hampton per Wikipedia, but simply The Doctor in the TCM print) at No Hope Sanitarium (8:00), but he has little to do beyond getting decked and thrown (15:30) and roped (16:40) by Fatty. Buster does double duty briefly as a windblown woman with umbrella in the opening scene (1:00), finishing with a nice high kick at Fatty (1:30).

Much more than either Coney Island or The Bell Boy, Good Night, Nurse is almost entirely Fatty's show, and little of it is very funny. It has neither the spectacular falls nor the inventive machinery of the earlier two reelers. Even Fatty's crossdressing is barely funny (14:00). The ending reveals most of the action (from 10:30 to 18:45) to have been a dream sequence, with Fatty under ether, but there's nothing particularly funny about that either.

David Robinson's Buster Keaton describes Al St. John (identified as Arbuckle's brother-in-law, though Wikipedia says he is Arbuckle's nephew) as "one of the least talented and least lovable slapstick comedians". But I love his acrobatic stunts in the earlier shorts, in spite of his terrible mugging and his repetitive overuse of a right-angle turn (8:40, 16:15 here). Here he is uninteresting as Keaton's assistant, though he does perform a nice forward one-and-a-half dive into a pool (13:15). On the other hand, Alice Lake, as the looney girl who kisses Fatty while his wife watches (8:10), has an opportunity to show some personality here, and she's much funnier than before.

Unrelated to the film, but interesting to me as a cultural artifact: the men in the Fat Man's Race are large, but few would qualify as fat in America almost a century later. Arbuckle is large but certainly not grotesquely obese; he would barely merit his nickname today.


Good Night, Nurse

Good Night, Nurse was Buster's tenth short with Roscoe Arbuckle, released about four months after The Bell Boy. Buster plays a doctor (Dr. Hampton per Wikipedia, but simply The Doctor in the TCM print) at No Hope Sanitarium (8:00), but he has little to do beyond getting decked and thrown (15:30) and roped (16:40) by Fatty. Buster does double duty briefly as a windblown woman with umbrella in the opening scene (1:00), finishing with a nice high kick at Fatty (1:30).

Much more than either Coney Island or The Bell Boy, Good Night, Nurse is almost entirely Fatty's show, and little of it is very funny. It has neither the spectacular falls nor the inventive machinery of the earlier two reelers. Even Fatty's crossdressing is barely funny (14:00). The ending reveals most of the action (from 10:30 to 18:45) to have been a dream sequence, with Fatty under ether, but there's nothing particularly funny about that either.

David Robinson's Buster Keaton describes Al St. John (identified as Arbuckle's brother-in-law, though Wikipedia says he is Arbuckle's nephew) as "one of the least talented and least lovable slapstick comedians". But I love his acrobatic stunts in the earlier shorts, in spite of his terrible mugging and his repetitive overuse of a right-angle turn (8:40, 16:15 here). Here he is uninteresting as Keaton's assistant, though he does perform a nice forward one-and-a-half dive into a pool (13:15). On the other hand, Alice Lake, as the looney girl who kisses Fatty while his wife watches (8:10), has an opportunity to show some personality here, and she's much funnier than before.

Unrelated to the film, but interesting to me as a cultural artifact: the men in the Fat Man's Race are large, but few would qualify as fat in America almost a century later. Arbuckle is large but certainly not grotesquely obese; he would barely merit his nickname today.


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