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The Butcher Boy (1917)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  23 April 1917 (USA)
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Customers and clerks frolic in a general store. Roscoe walks out of the freezer wearing a fur coat, then does some clever cleaver tossing. In Buster's film debut he buys a pail of molasses.


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Complete credited cast:
Fatty / Saccharine (as 'Fatty' Arbuckle)
Al St. John ...
Josephine Stevens ...
Arthur Earle ...
Joe Bordeaux ...
Accomplice (as Joe Bordeau)
Luke the Dog


Customers and clerks frolic in a general store. Roscoe walks out of the freezer wearing a fur coat, then does some clever cleaver tossing. In Buster's film debut he buys a pail of molasses.

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Short | Comedy

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 April 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Butcher Boy  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Buster Keaton's first scene during the flour fight was done all in one take; he later learned he was the only actor who ever did his first scene in his first film in a single take. See more »


Buster drops a bucket of molasses on the floor, but as soon as he leaves the store both the bucket and the molasses puddle are gone. See more »


Fatty: [dressed up as girls] Aren't you worried about splitting your mouth open even wider than it already is?
Alum: Don't worry about me, Sister.
See more »


Featured in Silent Clowns: Buster Keaton (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Keaton's first film appearance

With a supporting role in this rollicking two-reeler, Buster Keaton steps before the camera for the first time. He and Arbuckle work together seamlessly and although simplistic and crude, the comedy works as pure slapstick.

The film's beginning shows Arbuckle adept at juggling and acrobatics in a scene which would be refined and improved upon one year later in THE COOK. This time it's with slabs of meat and cleavers. Keaton has a run in with some brooms and then molasses. There's a flour fight and a pie fight at the conclusion of the first half, set in a general store.

The second half occurs in a girl's school where Al St. John as Fatty's rival and Fatty himself arrive in drag to see their mutual girlfriend. Fatty's take on Mary Pickford with curls and ribbons by the score is hilarious while St. John surely makes the ugliest of women. Keaton is seen in this sequence as St. John's helper, unusual since he is usually assisting Arbuckle as a team player. The ending melee in the boarding house is non-stop madness.

The print available from KINO (Arbuckle and Keaton, Volume One) on VHS and DVD shows its age. Although crystal sharp and clear, the age of the film stock is apparent and there are numerous "drop outs" - whether this was due to the original crude editing techniques or lost film snippets due to patching is not apparent to me. New title cards have been supplied by KINO.

The new musical track by the Alloy Orchestra is dreadful.

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