5.9/10
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11 user 4 critic

Oh Doctor! (1917)

Roscoe is a doctor who falls in love with a pretty woman whose boyfriend, in turn, falls in love with Roscoe's wife's jewelry.

Writers:

Jean C. Havez (story), Joseph Anthony Roach (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ... Dr. Fatty Holepoke
Buster Keaton ... Junior Holepoke
Al St. John ... Gambler
Alice Mann ... Vamp
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alice Lake ... Maid
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Storyline

Instead of a having a good time at the horse races with his wife and his pampered son, Junior, the prosperous Dr. I. O. Dine ends up losing all his money, after betting on the same losing horse with a reckless horse-racing gambler. However, as the gambler and his femme-fatale sweetheart refuse to take their financial loss lying down, they devise a bold plan so they won't have to return home empty-handed. But, the ever-watchful Junior already knows much. Can he save the day? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"FATTY," ROSCOE ARBUCKLE In the Best Comedy of His Entire Career. (Print Ad-Paterson Morning Call, ((Paterson NJ)) 9 October 1917) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Short

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Unique in that Buster Keaton, renowned as "The Great Stone Face", plays a highly emotional character (a child) who frequently cries and laughs. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Fatty Holepoke: Hercules Antibacterial Soap, Prevents All Diseases, Just use it every day and you'll live until you die!
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User Reviews

 
In which Roscoe portrays a deeply dysfunctional doctor dad
19 May 2002 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

Considered a missing film until quite recently, Oh Doctor! marked the fifth collaboration between Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton. The surviving print turned up in Norway, which might account for the somewhat awkward English of the re-translated title cards, but no matter; this is an exciting and fascinating find for silent comedy buffs, and an offbeat film in many respects. Not hilariously funny, but novel and enjoyable in its own way, and of course a real treat for fans of the two stars.

Viewers who've seen Arbuckle's other "Comique" brand comedies will notice right away that Oh Doctor! is plot-driven to an unusual degree for this series. In some of the other films it seems as though the guys started shooting with only enough material for a one-reel short, then had to switch gears midway through and come up with a whole new storyline. (You find that in some of the Sennett comedies too, suggested by weird hybrid professions for the lead comic: barber/jailer, sheriff/photographer, etc.) But for this film screenwriter Jean Havez provided a strong storyline, and while some of the gags appear to have been improvised along the way, director Arbuckle and his crew clearly stuck to the script for the most part. Most of the laughs derive not from slapstick or pratfalls -- although you'll find a fair amount of roughhouse here -- but from the situation. Oh Doctor! is essentially a situation comedy with farcical elements, and that alone makes it unusual in Arbuckle & Keaton's output from this early period.

More striking still is Buster's far-from-deadpan performance as Roscoe's obnoxious son. He wears a sort of modified Buster Brown outfit, and plays much younger than his actual age (only 21!) at the time the film was made. Although Buster can be glimpsed smiling, laughing and weeping in some of the other collaborations with Arbuckle, right up to The Garage, their last co-starring effort, he really mugs up a storm in Oh Doctor!, sobbing with enthusiasm in almost every scene. Then again, he has good reason to cry, for he has one mean daddy here. From the very first scene "Dr. Holepoke" is hostile to his son, deliberately sticking him with a pin, kicking him, pushing him over a table, etc. Sure, this is only a silent comedy from a simpler era, and maybe we're all too self-conscious about this sort of behavior now, but still as I watch this I wonder which came first: the kid's bratty behavior or Dad's slapping and punching?

It's notable that Roscoe Arbuckle, like W.C. Fields later on, often chose to portray such unattractive characters, as he does here, and that audiences loved him anyway -- up to a point, that is. In this film Roscoe is not only mean to his son, he's chilly towards his wife, flirts openly with a dark-eyed vamp at the race track (where he also brusquely snatches his wife's binoculars away), squanders his family's money on a losing horse, and deliberately crashes his car into a crowd of pedestrians so he can distribute his business card to the injured. Then to top off his perfect day, he gets tipsy with the race track vamp in her apartment, and for the finale, steals cash from a bookie joint while impersonating a cop, stuffing wads of bills into his clothing. In the final shot, when Mrs. Holepoke kicks her husband, he kicks her back.

And yet, despite all of the above, when this movie is over we somehow like Roscoe nevertheless. On screen he is doggedly sympathetic, and even when his character acts like a jerk his own likability as a performer transcends everything. Arbuckle had a special star quality, and it lasted until his luck ran out. But he shines in Oh Doctor!, and we can be grateful that this highly unusual and entertaining film has been rediscovered.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

None | English

Release Date:

30 September 1917 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Doktorze! See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Comique Film Company See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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