movie log: Coney Island (1917)

Viewed January 29, 2009: Coney Island – a short 2-reeler directed by Fatty Arbuckle and starring Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton.

This is a simple comedic short about several men, notably the two characters played by Keaton and Arbuckle, on a day trip to Coney Island. They spend the day variously trying to escape from, defend, and impersonate their wives in the pursuit of care-free fun. This film was made before Keaton developed his stone-faced character; it was unusual to see him without it (smiles and all!).

I watched most of this with my 5-1/2 year-old grandson late one evening, though his parents arrived before it ended and he missed the very end. I wondered whether he’d accept it but he seemed to enjoy most of it, even laughing at several of the sight gags (such as when Arbuckle emerged from underwater with a fish in his mouth).

A very entertaining half hour, more so than I expected. Old films like this often give you some peeks into history: I was interested to see some of the contraptions they had, like the bumpercars that were propelled by wave action (flexible flooring that was warped into making huge waves) and to note that one of the carnival prizes was a big cigar.