8/10
Early Keaton solo film is still funny almost 100 years later
27 March 2017
This film bears a strong resemblance to the Keaton/Arbuckle collaboration "The Garage". Here Keaton is the somewhat inept assistant to a bully (Big Joe Roberts) in a garage where he works as a combination blacksmith and auto mechanic. Ordinary props and tools of the trade become instruments of mischief and mayhem, along with some not-so-ordinary devices of Buster's own design.

During this short film he completely wrecks a new Rolls Royce, a car that retailed for ten thousand dollars back in the early 20's. Did the Keaton Studios have the budget for the destruction of such a vehicle? Some have conjectured that this might have been the Rolls Royce that Keaton received as a wedding present from his brother-in-law and benefactor, Joe Schenck. Also conjectured is that the scene where he is shoeing a horse and equating it with trying to sell shoes to a finicky female customer could have been a dig at his new wife's excessive clothes shopping. This film was made about a year after his marriage to Natalie Talmadge - a marriage that even started out on very rocky ground, and these would have been the kind of passive-aggressive stunts that Keaton was well known for.

I'd recommend it.
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