There are the remnants of a spiffy little comedy in the Kodascope cutdown of this movie: Johnny Arthur - movie fans may recognize him from a decade later, playing the quavery-voiced father of 'Darla' in the Our Gang series -- is a hypochondriac and wife Virginia Vance and the family doctor pretend he is going to die -- and behave in a heartless fashion that gets him to lose his temper and get out of his sickbed forever.
Reminiscent of Harold Lloyd's very funny WHY WORRY? in theme, there is a good structure, very funny gags -- including a cement worker with a repeating series, and some excellent acting. So why isn't it better? I have argued in other reviews, in particular of another Arbuckle-Arthur collaboration, MY STARS, that physical comics were a dime a dozen in the 1920s, and almost every one of them seems to have achieved a starring series at one time or another. But what made and still makes the best of them worth looking at, sometimes again and again, is that they developed characters or themes that we care about: Arbuckle's good nature, Chaplin's tenacity, Lloyd's brashness, Keaton's stoicism, Chase's bonhomie, Langdon's naiveté, Hamilton's cluelessness and others -- all are parts of people we recognize and can care about.
But many of the talented clowns of the silent screen never really developed a personality, or developed one that we don't find attractive: and Johnny Arthur's neurasthenic sissy falls into the latter class. He could take a fall or strike an attitude or play a role, but we don't really care about Johnny today and the audiences didn't care enough about him to sustain a leading career. And so he continued working for many a decade, because he was reliable and good, but people forgot about him as soon as he left the screen -- or maybe before.
This is a good comedy, but it is a one-shot good comedy. MY STARS is also a one-shot good comedy and I have no doubt that Johnny Arthur starred in other shorts in this era that are good; certainly he is fine as Darla's father. But they don't mesh together in a way that demands our attention.
It's hard enough to get people to look at silent comedies starring people they've heard of. This one, alas, is for specialists and madmen like me.
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