Okay, THE BUTCHER BOY is by no means a classic, but it is pretty darn impressive considering it's Buster Keaton's first time on the big screen. Keaton had been trained in the vaudeville circuits ever since he was a baby, and it shows! Keaton acts like a seasoned professional as he executes his gags with such grace you could've sworn he'd been making films for years.
Arbuckle is so talented and it really shows up. You can just tell how much dedication he puts into his craft and you can tell that the gags he does have taken him lots of tries and he hasn't given up just to see the end result. I always find it sad how people accused Arbuckle so wrongly during the decline of his career but Buster Keaton would always stay with him and would often be his top defender in situations like that. I'm getting beyond myself.
The first half of this is pure comedic gold. Let me talk about the first half. Now it starts out with Roscoe as a butcher who falls in love with a girl. However, the villain in this short, Al St. John (Roscoe's real-life cousin) has the same affection for the same girl. Now, we get treated to some pure slapstick at its finest in this first half.
There are two scenes in the first half that really stood out to me. The first was when Buster, a imbecile in this film, shows up and requests molasses. Now, naturally, he gets his too-big shoes stuck into molasses. Roscoe tries to help him and comedic results ensue. If any other generic two comedians did this gag, I'm sure it wouldn't have been as funny. The heart that went into this one simple minute or two really developed a life-long friendship between Roscoe and Buster.
The second scene is just a pure slapstick brawl. Pies, flour and other assorted items are thrown onto Buster, Al St. John and some other guy. Typically, I'm not a fan of Al St. John because I feel like he hams up too much into the camera, but I feel like this gag really did the guy some justice. All three performers really get the point across and go over-the-top, but it works in this scene because if this happened to you, you would be too.
Now that I've talked so much praise of the first half, what did I think of the second half? Not much, actually. We get treated to a traditional silent-film ending where Roscoe and the stock cinematic baddie get into a fight over the girl but the good guy wins. I felt like this was always a cheat ending in silent films as this happened way too often. We get lots of Al St. John mugging, not enough Buster Keaton, and too much of men in drag.
As for the supporting characters in this piece, I feel like they did a fine job. Nothing too much, nothing too little. But I feel like Roscoe's dog stands out because he's an animal co-star treated like a human. I know this was popular back in the day, but with Luke you can tell that he was trained wonderfully and that Roscoe really feels some sort of affection for the dog.
So, the first Buster Keaton film has a great first half but a jumbled second half with a messy ending. What would I give this film on a 1 to 10 scale?