The Butcher Boy (1917)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Screwball Comedy, Workplace Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 23, 1917 (USA)  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

There is a tendency, as one reads of actors and directors who start their own production companies, to find missteps -- over-reaching or choosing subject matter that is too outre, over-spending, or otherwise breaking up the record of success that led to the independent production in the first place. The Butcher Boy is one notable exception -- Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's first independent production, it showed the actor/director not only firing on all cylinders creatively, but in top form as a producer as well, for teaming himself up with a young Buster Keaton, the latter in his screen debut. The gags flow like water (even ones involving molasses), and it's even possible to see here as well the roots of an equally successful comedic set-up of a generation later, for the W. C. Fields vehicle It's A Gift. The pacing of the whole picture is a wonder, and it demonstrates overall precisely how prodigious a talent Arbuckle was in a multitude of areas.