A rising star who rose from bit player to writer, director, and star of comedies for Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle recruited up-and-coming vaudeville comic Buster Keaton for a series of film... more »s from 1917 through 1919. Presented chronologically, these shorts demonstrate Keaton's evolution from bit player to full partner as both men honed their comedic skills. Following the 1921 scandal that was inflamed by a publicity-seeking prosecutor and the tabloid press, Arbuckle's films were withdrawn from circulation in America. The films in this collection were gathered from international archives and private collections, with new English intertitles and digitally mastered from 35mm, some directly from the nitrate originals. Shorts: The Butcher Boy, The Rough House, His Wedding Night, Oh Doctor!, Coney Island, Out West, The Bell Boy, Moonshine (fragment), Good Night, Nurse, Back Stage, The Hayseed, The Garage.« less
Mark Pollock | Davis, CA United States | 01/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very nicely done collection of the Buster Keaton - Fatty Arbuckle Comique comedies made between 1917-1919. The collection contains almost all of their existing comedies, with the exception of "The Cook" which was recently discovered. The presentation is very well done, although there appears to be no "View All" option, so you must go to each comedy seperately. A minor problem, to be sure.The films often come from different copies than the 2 disc Kino collection of most of these films. "The Butcher Boy" looks about the same, as does "The Rough House". "His Wedding Night" and "Oh Doctor!" are both new to this collection, and look pretty good, although they don't have a lot of Keaton in them. "Coney Island" is slightly improved, and "Out West" is from a MUCH better copy that ever seen before, more complete, much better condition - but with some splices that could have been fixed by editing in footage from the other version. Why wasn't this done?"The Bell Boy" is exactly the same as on Kino, but "Moonshine" is very different. There are two existing copies of this film - one is a complete copy on 16mm with very poor contrast and lots of missing detail, the other a very fragmentary but high-quality version on 35mm. This set features the 35mm version, the Kino set the 16mm. Once again, why weren't these two edited together? The 16mm could use the quality improvement, and the 35mm just doesn't make sense and is really missing most of the good parts, not to mention the poorly done titles.On Disc 2, "Good Night, Nurse", "Back Stage", "The Hayseed", and "The Garage" are all in fine condition. Picture wise, this set is very well encoded, without much artifacting at all. Musically, the accompaniment is very nicely done. The Kino set suffered from some very bizarre accompaniment by the "Alloy Orchestra", which really detracted from the material and tends to annoy people who are trying to do other things in the room. The best part of this set, really, is the price, much less expensive than the Kino discs, and with more material. But really, if you are a fan, you need both, don't you? :)Enjoy!"
Now We Have A Choice.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 11/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been awaiting this set ever since Image Entertainment announced it's release in order to make a comparison with the earlier one from Kino. Although the two volume ARBUCKLE & KEATON set is very fine (see my other reviews), this set features a new comedy not included in the other one (HIS WEDDING NIGHT) plus mostly original nitrate prints of the other shorts gathered from foriegn archives. There are more complete versions of OUT WEST and THE ROUGH HOUSE here as well as a much better print of MOONSHINE although it's only a fragment. However some of the Image prints (THE BUTCHER BOY, THE BELLHOP, and especially BACK STAGE) are not as pristine as those offered by Kino. They also lack the color tinting of the other set and feature a more traditional music accompaniment (piano and synthesizer) compared to the raucous although endearingly colorful scores by The Alloy Orchestra. The title cards are also different.
While not as funny, they are probably closer to the originals. In fact the major difference in these two sets is authenticity in presentation (although in CONEY ISLAND Luna Park is misspelled as Luma). The Image shorts are even arranged chronologically so that we can see Arbuckle and Keaton progress together although the shorts are unevenly distributed among the two discs (8 on Disc 1, 4 on Disc 2). So where does that leave us? For the general public the Kino edition is probably a better introduction to Arbuckle's work although it's on two seperate discs and therefore more expensive. This set is more complete and offers more for the silent film enthusiast who will be more forgiving of its few shortcomings. While I heartily recommend the Kino edition, my nod goes to this set.The important thing is that now there are two quality sets of the Arbuckle comedies available and the choice will be up to you. It's a win/win situation."
Keaton's Remarkable Apprenticeship
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Without the support of comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, the cinematic art of Buster Keaton may never have blossomed. The 12 existing shorts in "The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection" display Arbuckle's comedic skill while revealing the astonishing speed in which co-star Keaton mastered the medium. After 15 two-reelers from 1917 to 1920, Buster was ready to fly solo with a remarkable string of masterpieces. Sadly, Arbuckle's subsequent career in features was unjustly destroyed by the 1921 scandal, yet he persevered and made a brief comeback before his death in 1933. Admittedly, not all the Arbuckle-Keaton shorts are gems, but "The Butcher Boy" (1917), "Back Stage" (1919) and "The Garage" (1920) remain memorable comedies that showcase Fatty and Buster's effortless rapport. Despite some unfortunate racial humor, "Out West" (1918) is a wild, fast-paced romp that satirizes the Westerns of William S. Hart. Though the prints vary in quality, one must be grateful that they exist at all. "The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection" represents a valuable chapter in the history of film comedy."
Keaton meets Arbuckle
Salvador Fortuny Miró | Tarragona , Spain | 07/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 2-disc set compilation contains 12 ( including Buster's debut in " The butcher boy " ) of the 15 two-reels comedies that both comics interpreted together ( only one, " A country hero " ( 1917 ), is lost ), all of them directed between 1917 and 1919 by Roscoe " Fatty " Arbuckle himself ( there are only doubts with " Coney Island " that some specialists authorize entirely to Walter Lang ). Fatty's conception of comedy was pretty superfluous and mechanical ( just inversely that his friend Buster ), based on easy misunderstandings and jokes and the humorous explotation of his enormous body . However, the three last comedies of the couple Arbuckle-Keaton ( that not accidentally coincide with a progressive higher protagonism of Buster so much as actor as gagman and who one year later would direct his own comedy shorts for producer Joseph M. Schenck too ), specially "Back Stage" and "The garage ", are fine constructed slapsticks with a good comedy timing and clever comic situations. The twelve shorts in this compilation are in chronological order: "The butcher boy" ( 1917 ); "The rough house" ( 1917 ); "His wedding night" ( 1917 ); "Oh, doctor" ( 1917 ); "Coney Island" ( 1917 ); "Out west" ( 1918 ); "The bellboy" ( 1918 ); "Moonshine" ( 1918 ); "Good night, nurse" ( 1918 ); "Back stage" ( 1919 ); "The hayseed" ( 1919 ) and "The garage" ( 1919 ).The copies of all them are fine, as well as the piano accompaniment by Neil Brand. The DVD includes a brochure by Jeffrey Vance, co-author with Eleanor Keaton ( the third and last Buster's wife) of "Buster Keaton remembered".
A very nice compilation with a pretty lower price and two more comedies than Kino's edition."
Indispensable for Fans of Comedy
Robert Morris | San Francisco | 02/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It has been claimed more than once that Fatty Arbuckle taught Buster Keaton the mechanics of making movies, and Buster taught Fatty the artistry of making film comedies. Although things are invariably more complicated, this survey of the Arbuckle/Keaton partnership essentially supports this idea. What's great about the collection from an historical perspective is that it covers their entire period together, from the Butcher Boy (April 1917) to The Garage (late 1919). What a difference in artistry between these films! The Butcher Boy is not far removed from the Keystone style, except for Buster's contribution (compare Chaplin's stealing the scene as a supporting player in The Knock Out of 1914). By contrast, The Garage, the last chronologically in the series, lays almost completely new ground for comedy: it is pure comic ballet, combined with Keaton's creative use of nature and machine as props, and a much more controlled concept of mayhem. No one, not even Chaplin, was creating and executing such fresh concepts in 1919.
Between these two milestones, there's a lot of fun to be had. However, a noticeable difference in quality can be seen between the first 9 movies in the set, and the last 3, made after Keaton returned from World War 1. In the first set, Keaton is primarily a supporting player for Arbuckle, often stealing the scene by his physical grace, but not on the whole dominating the story. For modern viewers, these Keystonesque films are less satisfying -- Arbuckle was simply not the creative visionary that Keaton was. The best in this earlier set might be Coney Island, for its creative use of the amusement park. Of interest to Keaton fans is his early experimentation with different characterizations before converging on the "stone face" -- there's a surprising variety in Keaton's facial expressions here, from laughter to uncontrollable Stan Laurel-like tears.
By the time of Back Stage, the first of the last three films in this series, Buster had essentially evolved his character into the one he was to portray throughout the rest of his career, down to the pork pie hat and vest. He also emerges as the primary creative force of these films, with Arbuckle serving as a willing partner of the Keaton vision. The gags and plot in the last films anticipate Keaton's future work far more than Arbuckle's formulae. For example, Keaton starts to experiment with camera tricks, as in The Hayseed, when he reverses the camera in order to "return the nag to the stable". By the time of the Garage, Keaton's acknowledged favorite in the series, we have witnessed the emergence of a singular creative force. These films also teach us to appreciate the contribution of Fatty Arbuckle to Keaton's development, as Keaton himself did until the end of his life."