Roscoe flirts with a girl in the park. Later he takes his wife and mother-in-law to the movies only to see his flirtation showing on the screen.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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The Husband
Corinne Parquet ...
The Wife
Agnes Neilson ...
The Mother-in-Law
...
The Pretty Girl in the Park
...
The Pretty Girl's Boyfriend
Jimmy Bryant ...
The Newsreel Director
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Roscoe flirts with a girl in the park. Later he takes his wife and mother-in-law to the movies only to see his flirtation showing on the screen.

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Comedy | Short

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21 May 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Creampuff Romance  »

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1.33 : 1
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Film was long thought lost, but in 1999 the Norwegian Filminstitute made a restored print available. See more »

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Expertly directed by Roscoe Arbuckle
15 January 2007 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Fans of Roscoe Arbuckle will recognize this film as a reworking of the 1915 two-reel short Fatty's Tintype Tangle, one of his better-known Keystone comedies. In the earlier version, which Arbuckle also directed, Roscoe plays a middle-class husband pitted against his wife and mother-in-law. After an argument he gets drunk, then storms out of the house to a nearby park. There he is photographed with another woman by a "tintype" photographer, and when the picture finds its way into the wrong hands there is hell to pay. In this version Roscoe appears to be considerably more prosperous -- his house is enormous and he has a uniformed butler -- but he's still butting heads with his wife and her mother, who are angry with him for coming home late and intoxicated. To placate the ladies he takes them to an amusement park, but soon breaks away and flirts with an attractive young woman. A newsreel crew captures the action when the woman's boyfriend intervenes and beats Roscoe to a pulp with a clown doll (?!?!). A bruised and bloodied Roscoe returns home and tells a whopper, claiming that he was beaten for coming to the aid of a blind beggar. Later, when he escorts the ladies to the local cinema, the truth is revealed by a newsreel introduced with the title "Mashers Flirting in Our Parks Should Be Stopped," and Roscoe is in serious trouble once again.

Although only two years elapsed between the Keystone version and this one, which was produced for Arbuckle's own "Comique" company, the differences are striking. It may sound strange to say this about a slapstick comedy, but A Reckless Romeo is a rather sophisticated piece of work, and demonstrates that Arbuckle had made noticeable strides forward as a director. Where the earlier film was frantic and chaotic, this one has a steadier pace; if anything, it's a little slow in the opening scenes, but gradually builds in tempo as the characters reach the amusement park and the expected complications erupt. It's also apparent that the director and his crew were taking more time with cinematography, lighting, and camera angles: the opening sequence when the tipsy Roscoe comes home is handled with a degree of care that's surprising in a two-reel comedy. (Soft light from the fireplace is used to good advantage in these scenes.) The climax in the Rialto Cinema features a smooth tracking shot that is downright elegant. Furthermore, compared to the improvised flailing and mugging that was prevalent at Keystone, Arbuckle's performance in this film shows finesse. It's notable that, even when he's playing drunk, Roscoe tosses items such as hairbrushes into the air and then catches them behind his back with precision. Meanwhile the other actors seem to have taken a cue from the star, and toned down the Keystone-style overplaying somewhat.

Before I get too carried away rhapsodizing about sophistication and elegance, however, let it be said that there's still plenty of low comedy in A Reckless Romeo. Arbuckle's real-life nephew Al St. John plays his amusement park rival with characteristic gusto, showing typical gallantry by swiping some of his girlfriend's ice cream while she isn't looking. And generally speaking there's no shortage of fighting, flirting, and flagrant vulgarity throughout to please the most undemanding fan of good old slapstick. But we can't help but notice that, this time around, these familiar elements have been packaged with care, like jumping beans gift-wrapped in an expensive box.

One last note: for many years this film was believed to be missing, and it was believed that Buster Keaton might have appeared in it. He does not. A Reckless Romeo was made just before Keaton joined Arbuckle's Comique crew, but even without Buster this movie is a treat, as well as a testament to how far Roscoe Arbuckle had advanced as a filmmaker before his future protégé and partner in comedy arrived on the scene.


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