"Like its companion, Volume 1, Kino has assembled for us digitally re-mastered versions of these 2-reelers, along with a related score by the Alloy Orchestra (which sometimes uses a musical saw!). Previously released versions of these films showed chemical decomposition accompanied by really bad, corny music, and in the case of "Coney Island", pieces of film I haven't seen before show up on this DVD. Fatty's career was at its peak, before he signed a multi-million dollar contract that may have helped ruin his career in 1921. Buster's film career was just beginning, his having no clue of the successes that would evolve within the next 10+ years.BACKSTAGE (1919): Back from service in World War 1, Buster continues his film career as Fatty's co-star and sometimes director with this behind the scenes look at a vaudeville theater, with Buster and Fatty as its stagehands. Also starring is John Coogan as "The Novelty Dancer" (later referred to as "the jig-man"). Buster and Fatty draw attention to his specialized act by poorly imitating him. In the second reel, the performers (unexplainably) quit the theater and it's up to Buster and Fatty to hold down the fort. They stage a no-talent Arabian Nights kinda act, with Buster dressed and dancing as a flirting slave girl, an act he drew upon from his stint entertaining the doughboys in France the previous year.GOOD NIGHT, NURSE! (1918): This 2-reeler begins with Fatty trying unsuccessfully to light a cigarette in the rain! Watch for an unrecognizable Buster in this scene dressed as a woman who gets dragged on the sidewalk by an umbrella in the wind. The plot involves a drunken Fatty being sent to the No Hope Sanitarium after bringing 2 gypsies home to the wife. Included here is one of Buster and Fatty's best gag scenes, which is Fatty dressed as a big, homely nurse finger-in-the-mouth flirting with Buster. After Buster finds out he's been 'had', he furiously chases Fatty into a fat-man's relay race.CONEY ISLAND (1917): "Coney Island" begins with beautiful night shots of Luna Park, a popular Coney Island amusement center that was destroyed by fire in 1944. Then we're shown Buster and his gal watching a (stock footage) parade pass by before heading towards the park. Next, Fatty is seen on the beach trying to escape the boredom of a wife who looks about 20 years his senior. The basic plot of "Coney Island" is Buster, Fatty, and Al St. John competing for the attentions of Buster's gal, using the park and beach to draw gags from. In some shots, you can see crowds of spectators watching the filming. No stone face here, Buster mugs, smiles, and laughs more in this 2-reeler than in any other film he made in the past or future. Like the previous 2-reeler, a beast-woman is included in the cast so that Fatty can gag it up wearing her clothes.THE ROUGH HOUSE (1917): This being the 3rd film Buster made with Fatty (a calendar on the wall reads April 1917, the month Buster started his film career), he is used in a minor capacity in 3 different roles - a gardener, delivery boy, and police officer. By the time he made "The Garage" 2 years later, he had developed into Fatty's full-time co-star. The plot involves Fatty being manipulated in his own home by his battle-ax mother-in-law who uses him as a servant to impress her uppity friends, who turn out to be crooks. This film was made in the Bronx, NYC. The 242nd Street subway kiosk is shown spewing out Buster and Al St. John dressed as cops. Later in the year, Fatty and his flock moved their operations permanently to Los Angeles.THE GARAGE (1919): Fatty and Buster are employees at an auto repair shop that also serves as the town's fire department. Product placement ads are everywhere - signs for Firestone, Zerolene, and most notably a portable wheel cart gas pump Buster cranks that reads Red Crown Gasoline, an early name for Standard Oil. Unfortunately, the print of "The Garage" on this DVD is flickery and messy at times. There are spots where you can hardly see what Fatty and Buster are doing, but they don't last more than a few seconds. What's really missing from this 2-reeler is the needed presence of Al St. John, Fatty's real-life nephew and co-star. Al is in almost all the previously made shorts, but by the time of "The Hayseed" and "The Garage", his essential role was replaced by Buster so that he could devote himself to a solo career. This being the gang's final 2-reeler, Buster also started a solo career."
I have to dock it one star because...
K. Lundy | Mason, MI United States | 11/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The appearance of these films on home video is long overdue - but why did Kino have to saddle them with the awful attemted scores of the Alloy Orchestra? I would have to call it audio graffiti, they really have no sense of the mood or rhythm of any given film they're working with - the only way I can sit through the disc is to mute the audio and watch it truly silent. Kino, please dump the Alloy Orchestra and get real musicians like Philip Carli and the Mont Alto Orchestra to render sympathetic scores to your silent film releases"
Life Is Good
Tom From NY | New York, NY United States | 04/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Life is very very good when companies decide to issue the works of Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton on DVD.This collection, the second of two put out by Kino, is essential for anyone interested in movies, in comedy, or in just having a good laugh. These are the two-reelers produced by Roscoe Arbuckle, featuring Buster Keaton in supporting parts. The men were good friends, and they have a chemistry that is readily apparent. They play off each other beautifully, especially in one scene of the short entitled Good Night Nurse, in which Arbuckle, in drag as a nurse, flirts with Keaton. The results are so funny that even Keaton couldn't keep a straight face.These films aren't necessarily perfect. They come from an entirely different era of cinema, in which actors felt comfortable looking at the camera, and winking, and even gesturing to the audience to laugh at what was going on. Don't see them expecting a perfectly told story, or exquisite acting. You should see them to watch two great comedians work with each other, always to hilarious effect.Arbuckle and Keaton. On DVD. Okay. Life is good sometimes."
Arbuckle and Keaton Live Again!
Oregon Charlie | Woodland, WA, United States | 04/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent digital transfer by Kino from 35-mm stock. There is an original stereo orchestral soundtrack. I recommend both Volumes One and Two of the Arbuckle-Keaton series (see my review under Volume One). The two Volumes present the best ten of the surviving films made by the two (they collaborated on about fifteen all told, and they loved every minute they worked together).Highly recommended."
The Better of the two volumes
Andre M. | Mt. Pleasant, SC United States | 08/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the better of the two collections of Fatty and Buster.Although most of thee films are two-relers with one reel worth of good material, much of this is good for a laugh (if a bit brutal).You'll howl at the bit in "The Rough House" where Fatty nonchalantly trieds to put out a fire (that he straterd while smoking in bed)with a smal cup of water. I Love it! "Back Stage" (a possible relation to the 1923 Our Gang comedy of the same name, as some gags and the overall subject matter are similar) is great with the wild dancing of Jack Coogan (Jackie's dad) and a howl-larius scene where Buster and Al St. John wildly fight the stage bully. "Coney Island", despite the story that goes off into wild directions, is priceless for its footage of sections of the amusement park that no longer exist.A great representation of silent comedy overall. The Fat man cometh."