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Our hero and his young wife live hand-to-mouth because he has to pay his ex-wife $30 per week in alimony. He gets the bright idea to invite her to come live with them, so he won't have to pay. Elsie arrives, her boyfriend Radcliff in tow, and they proceed to take over the flat. After a horrid dinner, a sleepless night, and an awful morning, our hero's wife is ready to become ex-wife number two. He'd better think of a solution quick. Written by
Looking at a Jules White-directed Keaton short, one can almost see them battling behind the scenes, White a proponent of smashing things and slapping people, and Buster trying for elaboration. Given that they shot these shorts on a three-day schedule, there is a lot of cheating going on, mostly through undercranking the camera to get Buster through one of his falls. Yet this is a highly entertaining short, particularly in the first half, as Buster fights with his ex-wife's trunk for some of his trademark falls. Even Elsie Ames gets some excellent pratfalls in.
Buster also gets to do some real acting here, and people who think of him as stone-faced do not really watch him. He shows an enormous range of emotion even though he doesn't smile. In many of the Jules White shorts, he seems mentally deficient, but here he is, struggling to make the best of a bad situation: his ex-wife's alimony means that he and his new wife are suffering, so he comes up with the idea of having his ex-wife move in, which will save on the living expenses. It's a crack-brained idea, but Buster perseveres. Yes, there are many crude Jules White touches, but it's a Buster Keaton movie and he and the audience win in the end. Give this one a try.
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