Fatty's a harmless hobo. When he tries to cadge hooch and a free lunch at Ambrose Schnitz's bar, Herr Schnitz ejects him. Someone has been blowing up the taverns of people who treat ... See full summary »
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Mack Swain ...
Ambrose Schnitz
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Bartender
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Fatty's a harmless hobo. When he tries to cadge hooch and a free lunch at Ambrose Schnitz's bar, Herr Schnitz ejects him. Someone has been blowing up the taverns of people who treat penniless folks unkindly, so Schnitz's patrons play a trick on the publican, leaving a note that the place will blow up at 3 that afternoon. Schnitz thinks Fatty is the culprit. At two minutes to three, Fatty shows up with a cheese that he's bought with generous alms a swell tosses his way. Schnitz thinks the cheese is a bomb, and he runs for the cops. Fatty has the bar to himself. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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cheese | fear | explosion | ball | vagrant | See All (12) »

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Comedy | Short

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1 February 1915 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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In search of a new role, Fatty goes down-market
30 April 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

In most of the 'Fatty' Arbuckle comedies I've seen Roscoe portrays a solid member of the bourgeoisie, usually married and employed in a respectable profession: grocer, baker, hotel manager, sometimes even a doctor or an officer of the law. In one late feature, Leap Year, Roscoe is an idle millionaire, but this seems to have been a rare exception; generally his circumstances were more modest, and when his profession was not specified his clothing and surroundings indicate a middle class lifestyle. In the aptly-named Fatty's New Role, however, Roscoe is a tattered hobo, not an elegant tramp like Chaplin but someone we'd call a "homeless person" today, a guy who sleeps wherever he can, bathes rarely, and lives on the generosity of others.

As the film opens Roscoe wakes up in a barn, then performs his "morning toilet" looking into a shard of broken glass. Suitably refreshed, he heads for a nearby tavern run by Schnitz (played by Mack Swain), apparently hoping for a free lunch. Schnitz promptly throws him out, but soon thereafter his regular patrons show him a news article about a vengeful hobo who has been blowing up local taverns from which he'd been ejected. Now Schnitz is worried. His raffish customers decide to play a prank on him by leaving him a note, supposedly written by Roscoe, saying that his tavern will be blown up at 3 P.M. this very day. Roscoe, meanwhile, has received a hand-out from a prosperous-looking Edgar Kennedy, and has used the money to buy a chunk of cheese the size and shape of a bowling ball. (One of my favorite moments in the film comes when an explanatory title offers the information: "HE LOVED CHEESE.") When Roscoe returns to Schnitz' bar just before 3 P.M., armed with this massive, bomb-like dairy product, he is treated like an honored -- and dangerous -- guest, and is permitted to eat and drink his fill.

That's the gist of the story, so one's degree of enjoyment of this film will depend on whether or not the scenario strikes you as funny. Personally, I enjoyed it. The gritty milieu is certainly offbeat for an Arbuckle comedy, although much of the humor is provided not by Roscoe himself but by Mack Swain, whose fearful reactions to loud noises and large packages supply most of the amusement -- admittedly, amusement of a rather dark variety, certainly for those of us watching this film in the Age of Terrorism. Mack Swain, like Ben Turpin, was a homely comic who relied heavily on his looks for laughs; thus, perhaps the funniest moment in Fatty's New Role is a simple tracking shot of Swain dashing away from an anticipated explosion. No gag is necessary, just an extended take of Mack Swain running. Surprisingly, Arbuckle plays his "new role" straight, so fans can cite this rather unusual turn as an example of his versatility, but nonetheless I prefer his traditional role: i.e. the naughty grown-up boy in a derby hat, dutifully fulfilling the expectations of middle-class respectability, but still gleefully sticking his tongue out at his Dragon Lady wife behind her back.


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