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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

The Keystone Kops meet Franz Kafka

Author: wmorrow59 from Westchester County, NY
11 November 2002

As Keystone comedies go, this is a pretty dark and disturbing piece of work. There's an amusing moment or two along the way, thanks largely to Roscoe Arbuckle's physical dexterity, but ultimately the story is more harrowing than funny, with an ending that's like something out of Kafka. And once you know the details of Arbuckle's tragic life and career the distressing impact of Fatty Joins the Force is only compounded.

Like so many Keystones this one begins in a park. Fatty and his wife encounter cop Edgar Kennedy, who apparently tosses off a sassy remark (about Roscoe's girth?) en route to a flirtation with a nursemaid. While the cop and the maid are chatting, the nurse's charge, a little girl, wanders off and then falls into the lake. Fatty comes to the rescue and saves the girl, who turns out to be the Police Commissioner's daughter. Fatty the hero is 'rewarded' with a position on the police force, but quickly gets into trouble. He falls afoul of a group of teenage boys who easily get the better of him. And then, due to a misunderstanding, the one-time hero is mistaken for a dangerous "wild man" and winds up in jail himself, disgraced and sobbing with frustration while his wife flirts with the Police Commissioner.

How funny is that finale? Not so funny, if you ask me. When you consider that, several years after this short comedy was produced, Arbuckle himself plummeted from a position of popularity and respect to genuine and lasting disgrace, the weepy close-up of Roscoe in his jail cell that concludes this film is far more upsetting than it might otherwise be. The most credible research indicates that Arbuckle was not guilty of any crime, but he was ruined and Hollywood was never the same, afterward. Of course, when this short was made all of that was far in the future, but it's difficult not to think of it while watching. The final close-up suggests an infamous composite photo that ran in the tabloids at the height of the scandal in 1921, showing a grim-faced Roscoe supposedly behind bars in San Francisco, facing rape and manslaughter charges. (The charges were real, all right, but the photo was faked.) Even taken on its own terms, Fatty Joins the Force is short on laughs. Roscoe executes a couple of funny falls, and reacts strenuously to a pie in the face, but otherwise, given the unhappy connotations, this movie is about as comical as Hitchcock's The Wrong Man.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Viewed on U.S.S. Missouri (BB-11) in August, 1915

Author: sd_ducksoup from United States
29 June 2008

Part of the ship-board entertainment on the U.S.S. Missouri (BB-11) on August 25, 1915. The ship was en route to Annapolis through the Panama Canal on a summer training voyage for the midshipmen.

My great-uncle was a midshipman on the voyage and kept a journal of his life aboard the U.S.S. Missouri that summer. In addition, he kept several pieces of ship-board memorabilia including the program for the "Homeward Bound Smoker and Entertainment" on August 25, 1915. It lists "Beauty Parlor Graduate" and "Fatty Joins the Force" each as a Moviograph that was part of the night's events. In his journal, he uses the term "movie" (his quotes) when writing about a film, so apparently he felt that Moviograph was the real name and "movie" was the colloquial version. Since even Google hasn't seen the term Moviograph, it must have been in use for a very short time at the start of the 20th century.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Behind Bars

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
24 June 2006

Sometimes its a joy rummaging around in the old Hal Roach and Mack Sennett comedies. There's an assumption behind the humor that by itself is rewarding: physical stuff and often heartfelt goodness.

But sometimes they fall into sour recall, the times not being so forgiving of the humor of pain and embarrassment. This is one that won't make you laugh. You won't cry either, but it will make you sad, knowing the unfair fate Arbuckle would suffer later.

But even beyond that it isn't a success. Its actually a pretty tragic story with some pratfalls, and not very good or broad ones.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Uneven, But Has Some Good Moments Thanks To Arbuckle

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
9 November 2005

While quite uneven overall, this has some good slapstick and other gags, and it is also of interest as one of the earliest starring roles for Roscoe Arbuckle. It has a rather odd collection of material that leaves you wondering whether it was all supposed to be funny or not, as it is only amusing if you decide not to take it very seriously. Arbuckle's character is not especially sympathetic, yet he is treated rather roughly by the plot.

The story starts with 'Fatty' being rewarded for an act of heroism by being appointed to the police force, only to find how little respect policemen are often shown. The story mostly pieces together a series of stock elements, and they do not always fit together seamlessly. The clothes-stealing gag and some of the other ideas fall rather flat, but at other times Arbuckle's skill and timing make some of the slapstick work better than it might have on its own.

The main reason to watch this now would be to see Arbuckle, who shows that he could carry the action and handle a starring role, even when the material was not all that good. With a more nondescript actor in the lead, this movie would have been completely forgettable. It's still nothing great, but at least Arbuckle provides some reason for watching it.

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Raises a smile or two

Author: kidboots from Australia
7 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this film raised a smile or two. As one of the reviewers said there was a plot, continuity and really not much slapstick. I think Fatty Arbuckle is quite an under-rated comedian.

This was an enjoyable film. Fatty's girl (I didn't think it was really established that she was his wife) is very impressed with the local policeman. When Fatty rescues the police commissioner's child from drowning in the lake (the policeman on duty is too busy flirting with the nanny) his reward is recruitment into the local police force. Fatty is very pleased - now he will impress his girl, but he finds police work isn't what it's cracked up to be.

He tries to break up a fight between young hooligans - in reality they are boxers practicing sparring and Fatty comes off second best. Young kids pelt him with watermelon and then steal his uniform when he goes for a swim. A chap finds the uniform and hands it into the station. The officers think he has drowned but he hasn't - he is hanging about in the local park getting dirtier and scruffier and scaring ladies, who complain about a "wild man" who is on the loose. There is some horse play by the Keystone cops and the film finishes with Fatty behind bars as a lawbreaker - not a law enforcer. That is the only uncomfortable part - only because of what happened to Fatty Arbuckle in real life.


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Fatty Joins the Force has some amusing slapstick touches

Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
27 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before I begin the review, I'd like to note that Dot Farley plays Fatty's wife here and that Edgar Kennedy played a cop in the beginning of this short. I'm noting this because Farley and Kennedy would later team up in a series of shorts for RKO in the forties in which Dot would portray Edgar's mother-in-law. With that out of the way, let me say this was a pretty amusing short in which Fatty joins the police force after saving the commissioner's pre-teen daughter from drowning in a lake. Now in uniform, he finds he's not so respected when he runs afoul of some teen boys who hit him on the face with mud pies and then take his clothes off when he goes for a swim. Cops find his uniform and think he is dead while Fatty, in just long underwear, attracts unwanted attention from ladies who call for help to other cops who arrest him. It all goes downhill from there...Pretty amusing slapstick involving the teen boys, other policemen, and subsequent humiliation from his "mourners". Old hat today but worth a look for silent movie comedy fans.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

for a Keystone film, this one has a lot of plot

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
16 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have just finished watching all but a couple lost shorts by Charlie Chaplin and was a bit surprised to see that the early films he did for Keystone Stuios in 1914 were often plot-less. Fortunately for him, he soon left for other studios who allowed him to make deeper and more interesting shorts. I've seen a few other Keystone films from the same era and found that time and again they had the barest of plot outlines and mostly degenerated to punching and kicking. This is why I found this Fatty Arbuckle film from 1913 to be so unusual--it had a well-defined plot and looked so much more polished than I expected. It was far better overall than the shorts Chaplin was doing just a year later at the same studio.

Fatty was a hero in the beginning of the film, as he selflessly jumps into a lake to save a girl who turns out to be the daughter of the police commissioner. This park and lake, by the way, appear in MANY Keystone shorts. The commissioner, to show his gratitude, makes Fatty a policeman. Later, Fatty is harassed by some young punks and he is covered with pie they threw at him. So, naturally he does what anyone would do in a similar situation--take off his clothes and go for a swim to clean up!! While swimming, the young punks steal his clothes! Much of the movie consists of Fatty in his underwear trying to avoid being seen. In addition, when his uniform is found, they assume he must have drowned and begin dragging the lake. It's cute how a silly little incident snowballed into a huge, huge mess.

Overall, a reasonably funny little film that actually has decent plot and continuity and not just pointless slapstick.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Cristi_Ciopron from CGSM, Soseaua Nationala 49
24 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

FATTY JOINS THE FORCE is a good short, not really funny, but rather bitter and sarcastic. This is a less used face of the comedy—this bitterness and, should I say, realism. I liked it very much, and the economy is wholly admirable, so much told in less than ¼ hour …. These little comedies are perhaps a kind of jewels, and so delicious …. It's art in this concision and precision and sure aim.

This is one of the jewels of the silent.

The impression is one of exquisite, masterful realism.

A level or art rarely met.

Fatty might be indeed the most enigmatic movie star of his times.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Funny Arbuckle Film

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
10 March 2008

Fatty Joins the Force (1913)

*** (out of 4)

Good Keystone comedy has Fatty Arbuckle saving a little girl from drowning and luckily for him it turns out she's the police captain's daughter. This lands Fatty a job on the force but he soon realizes it's not all it's cracked up to be. As far as Keystone comedies goes, this one here is pretty good and especially considering how extremely good Fatty is here. I thought he does a pretty good job at keeping the film moving at a fine pace even though many of the laughs are scattered around. One of the highlights is a sequence where a pack of boys are picking on Fatty and this eventually leads to him taking a bath in a pond at which time the boys cut up his pants. This here leads to an even funnier bit where a couple women mistake Fatty for a wild man running loose. For the most part there are enough laughs to make this film worth viewing even if it doesn't come close to some of the actor's better pictures. Still, fans of Arbuckle and his style of comedy will certainly enjoy this one.

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