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The Cook (1918)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 591 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 3 critic

Cooks make hovoc in seaside resort hotel.

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Title: The Cook (1918)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Al St. John ...
Alice Lake ...
Waitress / Cashier
Glen Cavender
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Luke the Dog ...
Dog
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Storyline

In an attempt at greater efficiency, the chef of a fancy oceanside restaurant and his assistant wreak havoc in the establishment. Adding to the complications is the arrival of a robber. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Short

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

15 September 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El chef  »

Filming Locations:


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Considered lost for several years. A surviving print was found and shown, for the first time in over 70 years, in Venice 1999. The surviving print was found in the attic of a former hospital in Norway. Apparently, the director of the hospital in the 1920s and 30s felt that laughter and comedy helped soothe mentally challenged patients and kept a collection of short films by Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin on hand. None of the other short films found were considered lost. See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Comedy served up with all the trimmings
17 January 2007 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

What I love about this movie is that it feels like a live-action cartoon, one of those Betty Boop-style cartoons where everyone seems to be made of rubber, and even the cars and buildings come to life and bounce to the music. That isn't what happens in THE COOK, but it sure is the "cartooniest" comedy Roscoe Arbuckle & Buster Keaton made together. This was the last short Buster appeared in before he shipped off to France for military service in the First World War, so it's all the more striking that everyone appears to be having so much fun. THE COOK has a party atmosphere that's contagious even now.

Most of the film is set in a medium-sized restaurant, where the clientèle is respectable and there's a jazz combo on hand to entertain. Roscoe is the cook, and this of course gives him the opportunity to perform a medley of his favorite food prep gags: flipping pancakes high in the air and catching them behind his back, playing "hacky-sack" with wads of dough, etc. Buster is the waiter, and he's featured in several close-ups that reveal just how amazingly handsome he was at this point in his life. THE COOK isn't as violent as some of the other Keaton & Arbuckle shorts, but there's a gag early on that made me gasp: Roscoe is using a meat cleaver to chop a large fish, and when Buster unexpectedly flies headlong into the kitchen and lands on the chopping block, Roscoe brings the cleaver down on his neck! No harm done, however, just like cartoons.

The highlight is an impromptu musical number. An exotic dancer in an Arabian costume is performing for the customers, and although Buster is in the midst of waiting tables the music inspires him to participate. Buster's pseudo-Egyptian "snake dance" is great fun to watch, but back in the kitchen Roscoe manages to top him when he joins in, transforming common kitchen items into a Cleopatra costume. (He also works in a reference to Salome, using a cabbage as the head of John the Baptist.) Most of Roscoe's dance isn't visible to the patrons, he's just clowning back in the back for his own amusement-- and ours, of course. When he dances into the dining room and enhances his act by smashing plates no one is especially shocked or even much surprised, and the finale is greeted with a vigorous round of applause. The mood is downright giddy. Unfortunately the mood darkens when scuzzy Al St. John shows up and manhandles pretty cashier Alice Lake, but the staff at this establishment knows how to handle the undesirable element, and Luke the Dog is soon on the scene to teach the tough guy some manners. The next sequence features Roscoe, Buster, and two restaurant staffers eating spaghetti in a variety of funny ways; they turn a long strand into an impromptu clothes-line, Roscoe gets the food mixed up with his tie, etc. That's the joy of this film, there's no plot to worry about and no reason to hurry: these guys seem to have all the time in the world to sit around and perform clever gags. (Incidentally, the staffer with the big mustache is John Rand, familiar from a number of Chaplin films; Laurel & Hardy fans will recognize the other gent as Bobby Dunn, the cheerful shoplifter from TIT FOR TAT.)

The finale takes place in a nearby amusement park, where customers are borne in goat-carts. Al St. John reappears to menace Alice, so Luke obligingly reappears to menace Al. The last shots of the film are missing, unfortunately, but we're lucky we're able to see this much; THE COOK was thought to be entirely lost until the 1990s when a portion of the film was found, and that section was matched up with another newly-discovered fragment in 2002. The result is a funny and light-hearted comedy, a pleasant reunion with two great comedians surrounded by familiar colleagues, all having a blast.


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