When a rich 'mothball magnate' checks into a hotel with his family, the mashers come out of the woodwork to woo his daughter (Arbuckle.) The scene shifts to the beach where the buxom ...
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When a rich 'mothball magnate' checks into a hotel with his family, the mashers come out of the woodwork to woo his daughter (Arbuckle.) The scene shifts to the beach where the buxom heiress becomes stranded on a rock, where she is sunbathing, when the tide comes in. An hilarious rescue effort ensues. Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
If you're familiar with Roscoe Arbuckle's Keystone comedies the title of this short might suggest one of the star's familiar female impersonation scenarios, but you may be surprised to find it's a little different from what you expected. This time around Roscoe isn't playing a guy masquerading as a woman, but an actual woman. Miss Fatty is an heiress, no less, daughter of a magnate who has made his fortune in mothballs. (And if you don't know what "mothballs" are, ask Grandpa.) The family is portrayed as a bunch of nouveau riche vulgarians, that is, the kind of people who don't know how to behave properly at the seaside resort where they're spending their vacation. The family name is "Finnegan" and the father looks like a spruced-up version of the typical stage Irishman of the period, but otherwise there's nothing overtly Irish about the family; they seem to be intended as a more general send-up of people who've risen beyond their accustomed station in life and are thus likely to make a spectacle of themselves in public.
As soon as the family arrives at the resort hotel three young cads who dwell in the lobby set their sights on the "buxom heiress." The burly masher is played by Edgar Kennedy, the short masher is played by Joe Bordeaux, and the slender handsome chap is Harold Lloyd. Lloyd made a handful of appearances at Keystone around this time but wasn't given much to do, and soon returned to the Hal Roach lot. In Miss Fatty's Seaside Lovers Harold wears no glasses and looks pretty much the way he looked in off-the-set publicity photos. He reacts energetically to all the activity swirling around him but he's never at the center of things. No wonder he went back to Roach! Miss Fatty is the real center of attention here, and Roscoe makes an oddly convincing -- albeit muscular -- rich girl on holiday. One of the funniest sequences occurs when the petite masher, Joe Bordeaux, goes to Miss Fatty's room for a round of courtship. What follows is a routine familiar from other comedies involving female impersonation: it starts when the man gives the "lady" a flirty little pat on the cheek. The flirty little pat is greeted with a more vigorous one, and this is greeted in return with a playful shove which prompts a more forceful response, and before you know it the two "lovers" are battling furiously. In this rendition of the bit Roscoe really pummels Joe, and normally we might sympathize with the smaller combatant, but here the guy is so clearly intent on taking advantage of Miss Fatty that his beating is well deserved. Eventually everyone winds up on the beach, and we get to see how Miss Fatty looks in a 1915 vintage swimsuit, toting a little parasol as a stylish accessory. Our plucky heiress swims out alone to sun herself on a rock, but she is stranded when the tide comes in unexpectedly, and we are treated to a strangely hilarious long-shot of Roscoe Arbuckle, in drag, stuck on a rock and waving frantically. I don't know why the shot is funny, but it is.
There's a daring rescue involving some inept Coast Guard patrolmen (if it's a Sennett picture there must be funny cops) and more frenzied activity, but for me the highlight of the experience was seeing Miss Fatty silhouetted on that rock, signaling for help. Maybe you had to be there.
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