The Butcher Boy (1917)
“The Butcher Boy” is a silent short film released in 1917, directed by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and co-starring Buster Keaton.
The film, known for its slapstick humor and physical comedy, is a prime example of the early comedy shorts that were popular during the silent film era.
The story centers around the character played by Arbuckle, who works as a butcher in a grocery store. Arbuckle’s character is infatuated with a young woman, played by Alice Lake, who works at the cash register. The film introduces a classic love triangle when Buster Keaton’s character, a rival suitor, enters the scene.
Arbuckle’s character tries various antics to win the affection of the young woman, including pretending to play the ukulele and performing a mock magic act. However, his efforts are often foiled by Keaton’s character, who continually intervenes and tries to win the young woman’s heart.
One of the film’s most memorable scenes involves Arbuckle and Keaton attempting to outdo each other with their physical comedy skills. The scene features a series of gags and slapstick humor, including pratfalls, pie-throwing, and chaotic chases, which were signature elements of silent comedy during this era.
As the film progresses, the rivalry between Arbuckle and Keaton intensifies, leading to a humorous and chaotic climax. The characters engage in a wild and destructive fight inside the grocery store, resulting in a mess of spilled flour, broken merchandise, and general mayhem.
In the end, the young woman decides to marry neither of the suitors, and the film concludes with a comical twist. “The Butcher Boy” is an example of the lighthearted and often absurd humor that was prevalent in silent comedies of the time.
The film’s director, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, was a popular figure in the silent film era and known for his physical comedy. He often collaborated with other notable comedians, including Buster Keaton, as seen in “The Butcher Boy.” Arbuckle’s work influenced the development of comedy in film and set the stage for the future of the genre.
Buster Keaton, who co-starred in the film, went on to become one of the most iconic and influential figures in the history of cinema. His deadpan expression and daring stunts made him a legend in the world of comedy and filmmaking. “The Butcher Boy” was one of his early roles, and it showcased his comedic talents.
Overall, “The Butcher Boy” is a classic example of early silent film comedy, characterized by physical humor and slapstick gags. The film’s enduring appeal lies in its ability to evoke laughter through timeless comedic elements. It serves as a reminder of the comedic genius of both Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton and their contributions to the history of cinema.
Release Date: April 23rd, 1917
Main Cast Members
Roscoe Arbuckle (Fatty / Saccharine)
Buster Keaton (Buster)
Al St. John (Alum)
Josephine Stevens (Almondine)
Charles Dudley (uncredited)
Alice Lake (Amanda)