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Author Topic: Back Stage (1919) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton  (Read 412 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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Back Stage (1919) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
« on: April 17, 2017, 05:00:23 AM »
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    Watch BACK STAGE in the link above.

    BACK STAGE is a hodge podge of theatrical puns that really carries itself well.  This short is different from our previous ones in that, Roscoe doesn't really get much more feature time than Buster does.

    Roscoe does great as always in this one.  He's resourceful and takes good falls while standing up for justice.  The moment with him opening the door to the theater (Miss Skinny) unfortunately has a jump as this film is missing five minutes.  I haven't particularly noticed any other startling jumps, but this one is obvious. 

    Buster does a fantastic job, as always, and I absolutely love the fake stairs gag.  Again, somehow Buster has a way of making drag be funny, and I think it's because he just does so deliberately wrong.  In addition, we see a scene with Roscoe that'll be done with Buster in a famous film from 1928!

    Al St. John, Molly Malone, and Jack Coogan are all great here, especially Jack's dance.  But the show must go on!

    Charles Post, however, is one of the most unlikable characters I have ever scene in a comedy.  There is no humor in Molly Malone's character being shot and nearly killed, and there is no humor in a man supposedly so strong an axe "tickles" him.  This is a common feature of Arbuckle's jokes, and it's this approach that keeps me from wanting to see more after we're done with these.

    6/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Back Stage (1919) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: April 17, 2017, 06:09:30 PM »
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  • I really like this one. I think it's nice to have a short that allows for some nice sketch comedy in its second half. The first half is pretty good on its own. I like the gag involving the star dressing room along with Arbuckle and Keaton's attempts at copying Jack Coogan's dance. The fake stair gag is pretty funny as well.

    What I love about the second half is the clear ineptitude of Arbuckle and his gang when it comes to their attempt at acting. Keaton's misinterpretation of"shivering" for "shimmering" is a good example of this. Another classic gag is the falling wall gag that would be immortalized in ONE WEEK and STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. (I love how Arbuckle continues to play even as the wall falls over).

    Maybe Charles Post is a little too serious in his role as the villain, and there definitely is no humor in seeing Molly Malone's character being shot, but this at least gives them a good motivation for the fight and Post at least looks much more intimidating as a villain than the two villains in the upcoming shorts. Speaking of the fight, I also like how they're able to show off Keaton's acrobatic skills during this as well.

    The one thing that actually bothers me about this short is why Jack Coogan's character quits. I can understand Post leaving since they electrocuted him, but Coogan seemed to be getting along with the stage hands when they were trying to hurt Post (maybe this is explained in the missing footage?). Other than this, though, I don't really have any problems with this short, and it's pretty minor, so I'm not going to mark it down for this.

    10 out of 10

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Back Stage (1919) - Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 12:58:13 PM »
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  •       Looking up bio info on Jack Coogan, I am shocked he was only in his early thirties here. Jack Coogan is the father of Jackie Coogan, the child actor who would a few years later star with Charlie Chaplin in THE KID and much later on, play Uncle Fester in The ADDAM'S FAMILY.  Yes, you read that right, Uncle Fester's Dad is in this. One thing about Arbuckle, he's not afraid to defer laughs to Coogan or Keaton. 

          I think Paul mostly covered it in his review, though I'll give a higher rating.  The stair gag is wonderful and is the type of trick camera angle gag Keaton would do so well in his own films.  The movable star over the door also feels very Keatonesque and yes, the house falling over Arbuckle with Arbuckle standing where the window is foreshadows STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.  However, being a mere stage prop versus an actual house, the danger of getting it wrong here is much less.

          I too like the skit/stage feel of this one, harkening to an era where people went out for simple routine shows like this.  They had no Youtube back then.  No cats on ceiling fans for these folks.  Another good example of a comedy like this is Charlie Chaplin's A NIGHT IN THE SHOW.

          Paul hit the nail on the head concerning the ending few minutes after Molly Malone gets shot.  Nothing more to add, though I do watch other Arbuckle films.