His Wedding Night (1917) Poster

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Fair to middling, but Buster provides some nice moments
wmorrow592 May 2003
Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton made several enjoyable two-reel comedies together during Buster's apprenticeship as a filmmaker, but in my opinion His Wedding Night is not one of their better collaborations. It's an early credit for Buster, his fourth film, and he doesn't appear until almost the halfway point, but within moments of his entrance -- as a dress maker's delivery boy on a bike -- he promptly steals the show with a spectacular flip over the bicycle rack. (And he made such stunts look easy! Easy for him, anyway.) Buster also appears in drag, in a wedding gown no less, and milks his entrance in this costume for all it's worth.

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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Generally just okay,...until Buster almost gets married to Al St. John and Fatty Arbuckle!!
MartinHafer16 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a rather poor film for the first 80% of the movie. Fatty Arbuckle and Al St. John both are wooing the same girl at the store where they work. However, eventually the girl accepts Fatty's proposal and Al stomps away to plot his revenge. Up until this time, there was a lot of mindless slapstick--making this a rather unsophisticated and dull film. However, when Buster Keaton (a definite secondary character in this film) appears with the bride's wedding dress, things do improve. Oddly, the bride-to-be wants Keaton to put it on so she can make some last minute adjustments. Considering he's a pretty small man, I guess this isn't 100% unbelievable! However, when Al St. John and his henchmen sneak into her room to kidnap her, they accidentally steal Keaton! Then, with the veil in place and the preacher with a gun pointed at him, Al is about to marry Buster!!! But, they are interrupted by the hero, Fatty (too bad,...he should have let the service continue!). Fatty then tries to marry Buster, as he, too, thinks it's the girl! But, she comes in at the last minute and Fatty marries the right one! This is by far the funniest sequence in this otherwise dreary film. It's just too bad the preacher never got a chance to finish either ceremony with Buster--now THAT would have been funny and could have set the stage for a wonderful closing line to the film!
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His Wedding Night was a partly amusing/partly stale Arbuckle-Keaton collaboration
tavm4 July 2009
Compared to the previous short I watched that starred Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle with Buster Keaton in support, His Wedding Night isn't all that funny though there are a few good laughs like when Roscoe changes the gas from 26 cents to $1.OO when a limousine arrives or when there's a food fight between him and his rival Al St. John for a girl's hand. Things really pick up when Buster arrives with the wedding gown as he first does a hilarious flip when he stops his bike and then-after trying the gown and keeping it on-he gets kidnapped by St. John and a couple of henchmen! There's also a mischievous scene when Arbuckle steals a kiss from a female customer while she's fainted from chloroform that Roscoe put in a perfume bottle that I was amused by. Otherwise, besides some boring spots there's also some racist humor on a couple of people of color that marred some of the enjoyment. Still, for all that, His Wedding Night was pretty enjoyable and I say this one's worth a look.
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Michael_Elliott10 March 2008
His Wedding Night (1917)

** (out of 4)

Fatty once again has to fight for the woman he wants to marry. Going through these films in order I've noticed that each one basically has the same storyline and always has a food fight. This is getting a tad bit boring but Buster Keaton has a small role and brings some laughs.

Oh Doctor (1917)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Dr. Fatty gets in trouble when a woman he flirts with turns out to be a thief with his wife's jewelry on her mind. The best aspect is Buster Keaton playing Fatty's son and being constantly abused by daddy.

Out West (1918)

*** (out of 4)

Spoof of the western genre has Fatty Arbuckle landing in a small town being over run by thugs. Buster Keaton plays the timid sheriff. There are minor laughs throughout the film but it really works due to its wonderful charm and the fact that the spoofs work for westerns even made within the past few decades. There's some off colored racial humor, which might insult some.
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