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Author Topic: Moonshine (1918) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton  (Read 344 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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Moonshine (1918) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
« on: March 25, 2017, 05:18:21 AM »
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    MOONSHINE is almost a lost film.  I say this because the quality is so bad the film is almost unwatchable; at points, there are grayish blobs moving in the sea of dijon, leaving you to guess "The big blob is Fatty!"  Unfortunately, there are parts where one can't tell what's happening.

    Overall, this is a fast-paced film, more than the others we have reviewed.  You can't really afford to blink because of this.

    Some highlights: 50 revenuers in a car, the tuxedos, the cellar, and the intertitles.  The intertitles are downright hilarious and provide most of the short's humor; there are more intertitles than there are in some of Keaton's movies.

    Straight up, this is a bit of a diversion from the usual rough-and-tumble and more reliant on the bizarre.  Al St. John's character behaves in a way that is a bit too close to rape for comfort and would get this film censored if it was made in the 1930s.  But beyond that the results are splendid.  If I say much more, I spoil it because there is little to see here unfortunately.

    "We'll do the explosion scene without them."

    9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Moonshine (1918) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: March 25, 2017, 10:04:49 AM »
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  • My problem with this short is that I feel Arbuckle breaks the 4th wall just a few too many times. Now, I've got nothing against breaking the 4th wall (after all, I'm a Damon Runyon character [pie]), and Arbuckle has done it in the past, such as the changing scene in CONEY ISLAND. However, there's so much here to the point that it feels way too out of character for him. If this were the Muppets, I could accept it since they are very reliant on self-referential humor, but it just feels a little too out of place here.

    That being said, there still are funny moments here worth noting, such as seeing how many men can fit into that car, Keaton and Arbuckle falling off the mountain, and Keaton giving Al his gun back despite having the upper hand over him. In addition, even though I think there are too many 4th wall jokes, I still do think some of them do work, such as how they acknowledge how rushed the romances tend to be due to the limited run time or the twist at the end regarding Arbuckle's relationship status.

    It definitely is more experimental than a lot of the other shorts that we have seen and I definitely did enjoy it, but it may be just a little too fast-paced for my liking. Still a good short, just not great.

    8 out of 10

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Moonshine (1918) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 06:16:17 PM »
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  •       First, I echo Paul about the preservation of this short.  The newly released Kino version is the best, but it's not perfect.  A lot of frames only exist in faded 16mm prints, and it was to the point where when Image released their set years back, they opted for incompleteness and only showed the good looking, shortened, 35mm footage.  A shame, but I guess we're lucky to have this at all.

          I'm pleasantly surprised in the fact that spotty preservation aside, I'm giving this thing a 10.  Watching these things back to back, you can tell Arbuckle's film evolved from at times incoherent Sennett like films to much more thought out pieces of work like this one.  Whether this new found focus is Arbuckle spreading his wings away from Sennett, Keaton being an influence, or a combination of the two, I don't know.  Either way, you can see some growth from the earlier films, as things flow together and you don't get the mindless, blink or you'll miss a frame chases you used to see.

          The gag where there's the one car with dozens of extra space piling out is a classic and one that has stuck in my memory all these years.  A funny and surreal gag for sure.  If Keaton did not come up with it, it at least feels like a Keaton gag.  Keaton and Arbuckle do fantastic team work when they,re hanging onto to the side of the cliff and eventually slide down.  Arbuckle digging Keaton out with a pick axe is quite funny, especially the sight of just Keaton's hands and feet poking out of the dirt.  I also love Keaton being hung upside down on the tree to dry only to come down much later in the short.  Again, a surreal gag that feels very Keatonesque.  Arbuckle and his supposedly torturous prison conditions also make a funny gag, as does the angle of the final gun where he blasts Al. St John at the end of this short.  A lot of wonderful gags and humor here.

          I really don't mind the fourth wall gags.  It would admittedly get old if done every film, but for my taste, it's a fun one time novelty.