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Coney Island (1917)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  29 October 1917 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 872 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 5 critic

Roscoe tries to dump his wife so he can enjoy the beach attractions. Buster arrives with Alice who is taken away from him by Al who loses her to Roscoe. Bathing beauties and Keystone Kops abound.

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Title: Coney Island (1917)

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Cast

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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

TV-G

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

29 October 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fatty at Coney Island  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the few films where Buster Keaton does not use his "Great Stoneface" persona. See more »

Goofs

When Fatty and his girl are at the beach (first scene), a cameramen can be seen in the background in the upper right corner. See more »

Quotes

Fatty: Put this man in the same cell with me.
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User Reviews

 
You want refined, subtle, underplayed comedy? Look elsewhere!
6 June 2004 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

If you enjoy low comedy, i.e. low to the point of downright crudity, with plenty of slapstick, strenuous mugging, cross-dressing, and general anarchy -- Congratulations, you've come to the right place! The two-reel comedy known as "Coney Island" is a prime example of the sort of rough-housing that made Roscoe Arbuckle one of the top comedians of his era, second only to Chaplin in popularity. It's also a good example of the kind of comedy Arbuckle would soon outgrow, due at least in part to his newfound colleague Buster Keaton, who influenced Roscoe to employ more low-key and sophisticated comedic elements in his work. But that would come later. Here, in this early appearance, Buster overacts as shamelessly as everyone else, uncharacteristically grinning, laughing, and even indulging in Stan Laurel-style weeping. In addition to his prominent role as Alice Mann's escort, Buster doubles as mustachioed policeman in the movie's climax (he's the cop relieved of his trousers by Roscoe in the jail house), and also acts as Alice's stunt double in the water slide sequence. They sure did keep the guy busy.

Like so many comedies of its era, this one is built around escalating rivalries over a pretty girl. Initially, Buster is Alice's Coney Island date, but he loses her to creepy Al St. John -- how humiliating! -- who in turn loses her to Roscoe, who must first ditch his homely wife. After various shenanigans at the amusement park Roscoe and Alice wind up at the beach, where they must "hire" bathing suits, and this is where things turn a little strange. Seeing as how there are no men's swim trunks on hand large enough to fit him, Roscoe pilfers and dons a lady's XXX-tra large swimsuit instead. Alice, who doesn't seem to find this turn of events the least bit odd, helpfully finds him a curly wig to wear. Roscoe is in drag for the rest of the film, even when flirting with yet another girl who crosses his path. Somehow, when Arbuckle performs this kind of shtick it's not only amusing but strangely innocent, which is not to say there aren't some weird undercurrents. Anyhow, it all ends in wild mayhem at the jail house, leaving the viewer exhilarated and a little dazed.

This is primitive stuff all right, but it has a number of things in its favor. When the film was made the star comics were all young and healthy, and had every reason to expect bright futures ahead, and their exuberance comes across strongly. (I happened to watch this film back-to-back with a short comedy called The Railrodder which Keaton made in Canada more than 45 years later; the contrast between the grinning, muscular 21 year-old Buster we see here and the grizzled, exhausted old man he would become was harrowing and poignant.) In this Coney Island romp everyone is buff, happy, and full of mischief, and they look like they're having a blast.

For that matter, Coney Island itself looks pretty spiffy here and boasts some really cool-looking rides, and that's another plus. This film serves as a historical record of the legendary amusement park in its prime, and it features several great shots that have turned up in various documentaries about the place. The Coney Island of 1917 looks almost as clean and well maintained as the Disney theme parks of today, and this too is poignant: I happened to visit Coney Island myself a couple of years ago, and I'm sorry to say it's not such a cheery place anymore. The only way to visit that bright and happy Coney Island, vicariously anyway, is by seeing this film.


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