Meanwhile, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle is up to his usual tricks. Here he's a clerk in a drug store, elaborately mixing malted drinks, flipping utensils in the air and deftly catching them. The location offers ample opportunity for of Keystone-style shenanigans, as when Fatty tussles with a mule, insults customers, bilks a rich man out of money for "gasoline" that is actually water, and once again engages in a rivalry with nasty Al St. John over a pretty girl. It's no mystery why Al St. John's character is always so unappealing in these comedies -- for one thing, when the girl jilts him he has a tendency to assault her, as he does here -- but it's remarkable that Arbuckle manages to be so likable when he behaves as he does. In this film, for instance, a running gag involving chloroform leads to a moment when Fatty deliberately renders a pretty girl unconscious so he can kiss her. You may or may not find that gag funny, but when he performs it Roscoe comes off like a naughty boy, not a pervert. Within a few years, of course, after the sex scandal that destroyed his reputation and his career, it would have been impossible for Arbuckle to have performed such a scene without stirring deeply unpleasant associations in viewers' minds.
Over all this film feels like a somewhat routine effort, not as inspired as the best Arbuckle/Keaton shorts produced for Roscoe's "Comique" company. For me it's marred by an interlude of racial humor near the beginning that leaves a sour after-taste. The scene involves a customer in the store, an African-American lady who is the butt of several gags -- literally, in one instance. Racial gags turn up frequently in silent comedy, and the scene in His Wedding Night is far from being the worst offender in the Comique series (that dubious distinction belongs to a mean-spirited sequence in Out West which ruins that film), but the bottom line where this comedy is concerned is that the material in question simply isn't funny.
The best Comique shorts, such as The Bell Boy and The Garage, are full of inventive gags and routines that still provoke laughs. His Wedding Night doesn't hold up nearly so well, but the limber young Buster Keaton provides it with some enjoyable moments, and he remains the best reason to watch.
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