A rotund young man and his wife are spending the day at the beach at Coney Island. Feeling restless and wanting to go to the amusements at Luna Park, he ditches his wife. At the amusement park, he meets a pretty young woman. She arrived at the amusement park with one man, went in with another who had money to pay her entrance, before she ends up spending much of the day with the rotund husband, who managed to get the second man arrested. As the husband and the pretty young woman get into one misadventure after another, the first two men try to win back the affection of the pretty young woman, while the wife goes searching for her husband. The wife and the second man, who are old friends, team up in their quest, which leads to further misadventure for all five and the police. Written by
Considering the popularity of Roscoe Arbuckle, I have been disappointed by the few features I've seen him in. Coney Island is an OK 2 reeler, filmed at Coney Island in 1917. That's the major point of interest: Coney Island. Blah story that makes little sense is a series of badly done pratfalls on dry land and in the sea. Arbuckle dresses up as a fat lady but this gag goes nowhere. Buster Keaton is his rival for the interest of Alice Mann. Keaton (very early in his film career) is OK; Mann has weird hair. Worst of all is the grotesque Al St. John, as a bow-legged and toothless goon. He overacts and is repulsive. Agnes Neilson plays the wife (so why is Fatty chasing Mann?) and looks like a youngish Maude Eburne. Along with the plot less story, what's missing here (compared to Chaplin's and Lloyd's films of the same era) is precision. Arbuckle's many pratfalls are obviously staged and even when he's supposed to be getting hit, it never really looks like it--he just reacts. Keaton fares better here but has little to do. Also, while Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton all developed personae that fit their styles of comedy, Arbuckle has little to offer other than being fat. His character has no personality. Based on this lack and his 1921 "feature," Leap Year, I doubt that Arbuckle would have had much of a starring career as the 1920s progressed and film audiences grew more sophisticated.
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