The Rough House (1917)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick  |   Release Date - Jun 25, 1917 (USA)  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The Rough House is a good film with which to introduce viewers to silent film star Fatty Arbuckle. While Rough is not one of Arbuckle's greatest films, it is an amusing little trifle, and one that find the comic in a good form that modern viewers can relate to; indeed, there's more than a little of such later overweight comedians as John Candy and Chris Farley in Arbuckle's work. Like many silent comedies, Rough is made up of a series of set pieces that are fairly loosely strung together. As such, its success depends upon how good the gags are. Rough lacks many truly outrageous laughs, but it does tend to provide a steady stream of chuckles and smiles. The opening has some of the film's finest moments, as we watch Arbuckle respond in the most nonchalant of ways to the fact that his bed is on fire. A foreshadowing of Charlie Chaplin's famous potatoes-on-a-fork dance follows soon after, as does some truly amusing "lousy cook" moments. Arbuckle is in fine form throughout, and gets fine assistance from Buster Keaton and Al St. John, although Keaton is not given the chance to show his own special brand of comedy here.