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Fatty and Mabel's Simple Life (1915)

Fatty is a farm hand at Mabel's father's place. He and Mabel love each other, but dad wants to marry Mabel off to the landowner's son in exchange for tearing up the mortgage. When Mabel and... See full summary »


Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle (uncredited)


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Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Harry McCoy


Cast overview:
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ... Roscoe
Mabel Normand ... Mabel
Al St. John ... The Squire's Son
Josef Swickard ... Mabel's Father
Joe Bordeaux Joe Bordeaux ... Farm Hand
Ted Edwards Ted Edwards ... Minister
Phyllis Allen Phyllis Allen ... The Bride
Billy Gilbert Billy Gilbert ... The Groom
Bobby Dunn ... The Village Cop


Fatty is a farm hand at Mabel's father's place. He and Mabel love each other, but dad wants to marry Mabel off to the landowner's son in exchange for tearing up the mortgage. When Mabel and Fatty find out dad's plan, they elope, pursued by dad, the hopeful suitor, and the local constables. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Comedy | Short







Release Date:

18 January 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Mabel: Let Us Flee And Be Married
See more »


Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: John Landis (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Barnyard frolics, sweet and charming
14 August 2005 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

Although the title was probably meant to be ironic, life sure does look simple for Mabel Normand and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in this pleasant Keystone comedy. Roscoe works on a farm owned by Mabel's father, and the two of them are secretly betrothed. Mabel, introduced by a title card simply reading "She was happy," is shown handling and kissing a calf. Roscoe, who is introduced with the phrase "Poor but honest," deals with the cattle, and rural life seems idyllic. Before long, we're offered a memorable sample of barnyard humor when Mabel squirts milk from a cow's udder through a knothole in a fence, right into Roscoe's eye. There's also an eruption of knockabout slapstick, when Roscoe has a run-in with farm hand Joe Bordeaux.

Subsequently, the trouble starts when young Mr. Jenkins, the wealthy squire's son -- an uncharacteristically dapper Al St. John -- shows up to collect the rent. Mabel's father, who drinks on the sly, offers the young man a snort, and Jenkins' reaction makes it clear that the stuff is turpentine in all but name. Once he's recovered, Jenkins conveys the news that his father would be willing to tear up the mortgage if Mabel were to marry his son, i.e. Jenkins Jr. This arrangement is perfectly acceptable to Mabel's father, but when Mabel rejects it out of hand she is locked in her room. Roscoe comes to the rescue, and the lovers have no choice but to elope in a fast car -- a car that turns out to have a mind of its own, and an ornery "personality" -- while Mabel's father, the squire's son, and the local constabulary give chase on bicycles.

Based on the outline above this may sound like just another typical Keystone comedy, but Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life stands out as an unusually sweet and charming entry by the rowdy standards of this studio, and it's also one of the most enjoyable of the many films that co-starred Mabel and Roscoe. It's easy to see why they were such a popular pair, and why some viewers assumed they were married in reality, which they weren't. They look good together, and play off each other beautifully. Their interpersonal chemistry just feels right, like such latter-day movie teams as Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers or William Powell & Myrna Loy. Here, when they kiss and Roscoe pretends to be disgusted, it looks like a spontaneous moment you might witness between a real life couple. When Mabel argues with her father, refusing to marry the squire's son and protesting "But I love Roscoe!" (it's easy to read her lips), she illustrates her preference with a gesture indicating tummy roundness, and on one level the gesture can be regarded as simplistic pantomime, yet when Mabel does it she somehow makes it real, and conveys a warmth of feeling for her beau that transcends movie play-acting of the era. By all accounts Mabel and Roscoe were genuinely fond of each other, and that comes across even when the action turns silly or frantic. They sure look like they're having fun.

For viewers who know something about the personal histories of these performers even a lightweight romp like Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life looks poignant in retrospect. This film features several close-ups of Mabel that can melt your heart, all these years later. Suffice to say, off-camera in the real world both Normand and Arbuckle would have rough roads to travel in later years, but in these high-spirited comedies of the mid-1910s time is frozen and they are forever young, healthy and successful, with seemingly bright futures ahead. He's poor but honest, and she's happy.

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