Lea Stans, creator of the Silent-ology website, has some kind words for CineMuseum's new DVD / Blu-ray release of THE ROUND UP starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle! Thanks, Lea!https://silentology.wordpress.com/2018/ ... hony-2017/
Posted on April 27, 2018
by Lea Stans
It’s with a resounding “Hurrah!” that I greet CineMuseum’s newest release, a Blu-ray/DVD combo of Roscoe Arbuckle’s first feature film, The Round Up (1920). If you’ve read any of my Comique Month series from last July, you’ll know that I’m a big Arbuckle fan. So having this charming Western available is a nice boon for my collection.
Prior to making The Round Up, Arbuckle had been first a Keystone comedian and then a top-notch comedy director and star at his own studio, Comique. He famously gave Buster Keaton his first film roles. Around 1919 he got an offer to star in features, so he handed over the Comique reins to Keaton and went to work on feature #1.
The Round-Up (1920) Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Julienne Scott, Irving Cummings, Tom Forman ~ Director: George Melford
Sadly, after working like crazy on several features in a row (early 1920s studios churned out features as fast as a mini donut machine), the infamous Rappe scandal hit and Arbuckle films were pulled out of circulation. And thus, The Round Up was unavailable for nearly a century–until this very spring!
An interesting bit of trivia: This feature was based on a 1907 play that starred well-known stage actor Macklyn Arbuckle. Macklyn was the actor who coined the doleful phrase “Nobody loves a fat man,” but after The Round Up was released in 1920 the phrase was forever associated with the other Arbuckle–Roscoe!
Arbuckle was given the role of Sheriff “Slim” Hoover so he could work while films more tailored to his talents were being prepared. In general, cowboy heroes in silent Westerns tended to be lean, strong-jawed types like Tom Mix, so Arbuckle’s role was a little atypical. But he does an excellent job, still using his familiar comic timing and flourishes but within a more subtle, “light comedy” format.
As a whole, The Round Up is a pretty standard Western drama with familiar situations and characters (Wallace Beery plays a villain, because of course), enlivened by Arbuckle’s presence. This particular DVD set, however, has the advantages of Donald Sosin’s evocative new score (Sosin’s one of my favorite silent accompanists), and the beautiful print quality. CineMuseum performed a stunning 4K digital transfer and restoration from the 35mm archival master print preserved by the Library of Congress and Paramount Archives. As a result, we’re presented with a crisp, perfectly tinted film looking pretty much the way a 1920 audience would’ve seen it. This is the sort of thing we silent film fans live for!
And by the way, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for a certain famous “Easter egg” in the form of Buster Keaton making an unbilled appearance as an American Indian. (By a painful-looking fall ye shall know him.)
Also included in the set are the Keystone shorts A Bandit and Peeping Pete (both 1913, and both in very nice quality), a commentary track by historian Richard M. Roberts (I always enjoy CineMuseum’s commentaries!), a gallery of posters and other promo items, and a booklet. This release is fascinating for both silent comedy fans and lovers of old Westerns–and it’s certainly important for Keaton completists! You can buy it here: www.CineMuseumLLC.com