House at Sea
dir. Roscoe Arbuckle
cast: Roscoe Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Al St. John, Frank Hayes, May Wells, Glen Cavender, Wayland Trask, James Bryant, Joe Bordeaux, Luke (dog)
runtime: 34 min
plot: The story involves Arbuckle as a farm boy marrying his sweetheart, Normand. They have their honeymoon with Fatty's dog Luke, at a cottage on the seashore. At high tide that night, Al St. John (Fatty's rival) and his confederates set the cottage adrift. Fatty and Mabel awaken the next morning to find themselves surrounded by water in their bedroom, and the house afloat.
Fatty and Mabel Adrift (Triangle 1916) was a transformational film for Mabel Normand and Roscoe Arbuckle. Keystone had become part of Triangle (Sennett, Ince and Griffith). Mabel and Roscoe had been with Mack Sennett in
This is a particularly well planned 3-reel film with carefully done camera work. They had made their reputation in the improvisation and spontaneous shorts for Keystone. With the change of production, company there was now more money to use on the productions and Roscoe could use his skills behind the camera as well as before the lens. He also created his own production company after he left Triangle.
Triangle productions were noted for quality comedies, Mabel Normand made five films with them; My Valet, Stolen Magic, Fatty and Mabel Adrift, He Did and He Didn't, and The Bright Lights. Two of these have not survived, Stolen Magic and The Bright Lights. However, we do have 2 wonderful comedies with Roscoe and Mabel and the film My Valet, left to us. My Valet pared Mabel with Raymond Hitchcock and also features Mack Sennett and Fred Mace, this Triangle film, is one I haven’t seen, the nitrate print exists at the Eastman House,
Many of the earlier Mabel and Roscoe Keystone films have very little plot but here we have a sweet little story of the newlyweds spending their first night together, suffering the wrath of a jealous and vengeful suitor. In the SHEBOYGAN PRESS dated
The honeymooners and their loyal dog, Luke were in their cottage on the shore are pushed into the sea in the midst of a storm. Mabel as the new bride has a terrifically funny screen serving her cement biscuits. The beginning of the film is set in the wonderful farmyard. It became a huge box office success for the newly formed company.
By the early Spring of 1916, Mabel was still disenchanted by Sennett, as was Roscoe. Keystone/Triangle benefited from having the greatest comedian of the era; in fact, the whole industry owns much to the Sennett Laugh Factory. It has been argued that Sennett would not have had his success if not for Mabel Normand; I like to think she was the key; that it was with her creativity and artistic genius that made Keystone the “keystone/cornerstone” of comedy.
“Fatty and Mabel Adrift” was released
In the unpublished memorial of Minta Durfee Arbuckle at the Academy Library, Minta describes the trip as both as a reward and a triumph for Roscoe. Minta writes that Roscoe didn’t want to visit
Al St. John - Roscoe Arbuckle - unknown - Mabel Normand - Minta Durfee
Minta writes that due to the fact that Roscoe had kept up all the releases and had turned out so many pictures he and Mabel were given the opportunity to go to
Mabel contribution was genially recognized within the industry. Triangle had studio space at
The New York Morning Telegraph ran a story that Mabel was ill and laid up for weeks during the filming of “Fatty and Mabel Adrift,” and it had to remain unfinished until her recovery. Sometimes life is repeated, while Mabel was at Sea Cliff working for Sam Goldwyn Studios, there was a terrible storm, the roof of the hotel where they were staying sprung a leak and Mabel said, “Fatty and Mabel Adrift had nothing on this deluge, which like a thief in the night, came without warning.” Mabel caught a terrible cold and ‘was ill and laid up for weeks’. Back in 1916, with all its slapstick, "Fatty and Mabel Adrift" contains moments of genuine charm, notably the famous vignette where Roscoe's shadow seems to gently caress the cheek of the sleeping Mabel.