Man oh man, another crazy one. Remember the way PARLOR, BEDROOM AND BATH had all these crazy, unlikable characters in some garbled romantic jealousy plot that Keaton was caught in the middle of? Well, it's almost the same thing this week, but with two differences. One is there are at least less characters THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER, so it's not as confusing. However, on the negative side, there is less of the Keaton physicality that made PARLOR a bit entertaining. Tons of loud, screaming, jealous characters, and you know what? Throw The Marx Brothers reacting to all the craziness in this plot and you would have a good film. However, Keaton works at a much steadier pace. Picture a blues musician working in a death metal band, that's what Keaton feels like in THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER.
A classic Keaton film has Keaton in some chase or actually doing some action in the finale. Here, we have three lovers in a love triangle throwing dishes at each other while Keaton calmly hands out dishes. In other words, Keaton is not part of the action.
Jimmy Durante makes his first of three appearances with Keaton, and his role diminishes the second half of the film. Eventually, he will share top billing with Keaton, but they're easing him in here. Durante was a good comedian whose style clashed with Keaton, just like the majority of the MGM run. He was a loud comedian who made corny jokes. I dig that, just not with Keaton. I'll take the inventing a banana with a zipper line or calling safe like an umpire as Keaton slides down the chair in a Stooge short versus a Keaton film. At least in a Stooge film, you know a good slap is coming.
Two good parts in THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER. One is the duel, later done by Keaton is SHE'S OIL MINE at Columbia. Actually, the whole gag of Keaton using the glove to slap people into challenging a duel is a nice little running gag. The best bit is when he's confronted by his rival, wearing nothing but a towel, and after getting slapped by a glove from his rival, uses said towel to slap his rival. The camera, of course, moves up so we don't see too much of Buster. Clever gag. Keaton finding ways to screw up taking paces before firing in the duel is also nice physical comedy. I'd venture to guess Keaton had a part in this scene, especially since he used it again at Columbia.
The other good part is at the casino. After being told men kill themselves outside the casino after losing money and the casino puts money in the dead man's pocket to avoid scandal, Keaton faking death to get cash is another clever gag. I also really like Keaton inventing the gun with a laser point for precision that he tries to show to the generals, but the way he takes the gun out in front of them makes it look like an assassination attempt.