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Battling Butler (1926)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 19 September 1926 (USA)
A love-struck weakling must pretend to be boxer in order to gain respect from the family of the girl he loves.

Director:

Buster Keaton

Writers:

Paul Gerard Smith (adapted by: from the 1923 stage success of the same name), Al Boasberg (adapted by: from the 1923 stage success of the same name) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... Alfred 'Battling' Butler
Snitz Edwards ... Alfred's Valet
Sally O'Neil ... The Mountain Girl
Walter James Walter James ... The Moutain Girl's Father
Budd Fine Budd Fine ... The Mountain Girl's Brother (as Bud Fine)
Francis McDonald ... Alfred 'Battling' Butler - The Prizefighter
Mary O'Brien Mary O'Brien ... Battling Butler's Wife
Tom Wilson ... Battling Butler's Trainer
Eddie Borden ... Battling Butler's Manager
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Storyline

Alfred's father wants him to make of a man of himself so sends him off on a hunting and fishing trip. He doesn't catch or shoot anything, but he does fall in love with a mountain girl. When her father and brothers laugh at this they are informed that he is Alfred "Battling" Butler, the championship fighter. From there on the masquerade must be maintained. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1926 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Battling Butler See more »

Filming Locations:

Kernville, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$702,114
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of all the great dramatic films in history, it was this film that was one of Martin Scorsese's biggest inspirations in getting the "feel" of the boxing scenes in Raging Bull (1980) just right, particularly (and most likely) from Buster Keaton's surprisingly realistic, climactic fight. As quoted in the book "Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull" edited by Kevin J. Hayes (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Scorsese called Keaton "the only person who had the right attitude about boxing in the movies" for him. See more »

Goofs

Buster and his valet take the train into "Mountain Girl's" hometown, so that Buster can confess that he's not the new champion; yet when circumstances require that his subterfuge continue, and he leaves to go to train for the fight vs. the Alabama Murderer, they drive away to the training camp in Buster's car. See more »

Quotes

Alfred 'Battling' Butler: Have you any more brothers and fathers?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The "THE END" test is shown on a boxing bell. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Great Buster (2018) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Snitz Arranges It
30 May 2010 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Sybil Seely, Marceline Day, Brown Eyes: All of Buster Keaton's best on-screen partners were female. All but one. Snitz Edwards here plays Buster's faithful valet, a gnomish, gentle character whose eagerness to arrange whatever his master wants lands him in trouble.

Buster is Alfred Butler, rich and so passive he lets Snitz tap the ash off his cigarette. While on a camping trip, he meets a girl (Sally O'Neil) who strikes his fancy. Her father and brother disapprove of her going off with a "jellyfish." Snitz to the rescue: He tells them this is the same "Battling Butler" who just won the lightweight boxing crown. Alas, the ruse works too well.

You can argue that Snitz plays the title character here as much as Buster or Francis McDonald, who plays the boxer Butler. Whether laying out a ridiculously ornate table at Buster's camp site or laboring to keep up with his boss during an arduous run through the mud, there's no give-up in the guy.

"I'd like to marry that pretty little mountain girl" Buster says.

"Shall I arrange it?" Snitz answers. Buster nods, setting the plot in motion.

Like a lot of silent comedies, this is a film of pieces. The first half, of Buster and Snitz roughing it in the outdoors, could be a clever short all by itself. Buster's idea of duck-hunting is to row up to one wading in the water, and then lean out of the boat to point a shotgun at it at point-blank range. You expect him to fire and roll off from the gun's kickback, so naturally that's the one thing that doesn't happen.

The transition to the boxing comedy is well done, helped along by Snitz, McDonald, and O'Neil, really a cutie with her Zooey Deschanel eyes. It's O'Neil's desperate desire to see her man in the ring duking it out that forces Buster and Snitz to scramble in the last half-hour or so, coming up with all sorts of ruses. The comedy wears a bit thin at times with some protracted workout scenes in the boxing ring, yet Buster goes a long way to selling them with his amazingly elastic physicality.

Buster doesn't wear a porkpie in this film, and his pampered lifestyle distances you a bit more than his inexpressiveness usually did, but he has that dogged quality of classic Keaton heroes. He may not be the champion boxer his girl thinks he is, but he'll not give her up without a fight. "I'm going back and tell her the truth," he tells Snitz. "I'd rather lose her that way."

It's funny how "Battling Butler" doesn't really engage a lot of Keaton fans. Perhaps there's some resentment there because it was a hit for Buster right before "The General" flopped. Taken on its own merits, "Battling Butler" is a clever and engaging comedy with a likeably different lead role for Buster and a surprising double-twist ending, in which Buster (and the audience) have the wool lifted from their eyes one minute, only for Buster to do the same with us the next.

Maybe "Battling Butler" isn't as inventive as Keaton fans are used to, but it has its share of arresting visuals and a solid mix of varied comedic moments that still connect. Plus it works as a story all the way through. Finally there's the winning chemistry of Buster and Snitz, The Great Stoneface and The Great Cragface.


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