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How've You Bean? (1933)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  24 June 1933 (USA)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 22 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

Dimwitted grocers Abner & Willie attend a wedding dinner and accidentally serve the guests Mexican jumping beans.

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(as Alf Goulding)

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(story), (story)
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Cast

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Abner
Mildred Van Dorn ...
The Bride
Fritz Hubert ...
Willie
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Storyline

Dimwitted grocers Abner & Willie attend a wedding dinner and accidentally serve the guests Mexican jumping beans.

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slapstick

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Short | Comedy

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24 June 1933 (USA)  »

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Vitaphone production reels #1525-1526. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Roscoe successfully trots out his old routines for the talkies
5 April 2004 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

It isn't easy to track down copies of the six Vitaphone shorts Roscoe Arbuckle made in the early '30s, but classic comedy fans will find the search worthwhile. The shorts vary a bit in quality, but all are enjoyable, and each offers its own points of interest. One in particular (Buzzin' Around) is as much fun as Arbuckle's best silent comedies from the 'teens. How've You Bean? falls somewhere in the middle range, depending on how much you enjoy low comedy. But then again, if you don't care for low comedy you should steer clear of Roscoe Arbuckle anyhow.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this short is the seeming attempt to promote Arbuckle and his sidekick as a Laurel & Hardy-style team. Roscoe, as a dimwitted grocer named Abner, executes several sliding falls with the elephantine grace of Oliver Hardy, while his partner Willie (Fritz Hubert) plays the blank-eyed Stan figure, at one point even scratching his hair to think a la Stanley. Laurel & Hardy were at the peak of their success at this time, while Arbuckle was struggling to recover his popularity after years of post-scandal exile, so it made sense to ease Roscoe back into public view as another lovable if accident-prone fat man, like Ollie. Still, the unhappy legacy of the 1921 sex scandal lingers in subtle ways: in his six Vitaphone shorts Arbuckle is never paired off romantically with a leading lady (although there's a hint of flirtation in one of the last films, In the Dough), which might also explain the attempt to link him with a male sidekick here, or with a small boy in the first short, Hey Pop!

At any rate, this comedy offers the chance to see an older Arbuckle dust off some of his grocery store gags and then disrupt a wedding party of "swells." Mexican jumping beans are inadvertently served, and soon of course the guests are hopping up and down uncontrollably. Everything happens pretty much the way it would have in a Keystone comedy of 1915, except we can hear the clunks and cries when people fall. Roscoe's mellow voice recorded nicely, but clever dialog was never intended to be the strong suit of his Vitaphone shorts: this is good old slapstick, served up straight. The man just wanted the opportunity to work again, and the success of this series proved that audiences were willing to welcome him back. Warner Brothers planned to put Roscoe Arbuckle in a series of feature films next. One wonders what sort of features he would have made if he hadn't died suddenly in the summer of 1933, around the time How've You Bean? was released.


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