It is true that Keaton was forced to do this film because his producer, Joseph Schenk, bought the rights. Most Keaton films were written by Keaton and his team, but this was a pre-written property that was basically a drawing room comedy any comedian could have done. Put it to you this way...in addition to Keaton, Schenk thought this might also work for the Talmadge sisters. Keaton is usually writing a film that suites his character, not having a property any comedian could handle.
So basically, we know the drill, first two thirds....meh. Final third....genius. Those first two thirds would score no higher than a 6 based on material alone, and we'd need a good comedian to get the score that high. Well, Keaton is that, his underplaying comedic style a breath of fresh air from the greasy haired Valentino wanna be who would normally play this kind of role. Without the chase, this would be the kind of film you'd watch once. Keaton getting rejected by seven different girls, without much variety, takes too much time and is not best suited for him. I too prefer Christine mistaking Cousin Basil. Much better than any rejections here. As far as the racial gags, there are a few...and the I'll date anything but a black woman gag does quickly show up. I've seen Larry Semon do this gag too, and it does lack humor....obviously. Definitely the kind of thing you'd never see in a film today!
Highlights of the first two thirds include the technicolor opening. Yes, like Umbrella Sam said, also done briefly in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA the same year, and for a whole feature using this early technicolor process, check out Douglas Fairbanks in THE BLACK PIRATE (1926). Cool film. Snitz Edwards trying to deliver the letter mistaken as a summons is the comedic highlight, milked very well and the most Keatonesque moment. Love Snitz Edwards and also want to add that T. Roy Barnes, who plays Keaton's business partner, is the same actor who played the hilariously annoying life insurance salesman looking for Carl LaFong in W.C. Fields IT'S A GIFT, one of my all time favorite movies.
OK, two thirds mostly standard comedy, but then the chase! One of Keaton's great works. Just the volume of brides in itself is a sight to behold, coming in all different sub sections and angles in an equally brilliant way as the policemen do in COPS. My favorite bride bit would be them trampling over the football players. Keaton himself is brilliant with his facial expressions in the church, and just runs away for an extended period of time, going through barbed wire, bees, pulled up by a crane, falling on top of a chopped down tree the moment the man below yells timber....and then there's that boulder chase. Keaton dodging those boulders is one of those things words don't do justice, it is physical comedy after all. But it's another case of Keaton's great athleticism and timing.
The chase more than enough makes this film worth watching again and ups the score considerably.