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Silent Sunday Nights - January 2014
Remind Me

Fatty's Tintype Tangle

The longer length of a two-reel short compared to a one-reel potentially gave Sennett and his comedians more opportunities to explore more elaborate narratives or character development; in practice, however, Sennett hedged his bets by making most of his two-reelers as essentially two one-reel shorts united only vaguely by common situations. That way, he had the option of splitting them up for exhibitors who wanted only single reels.

Fatty's Tintype Tangle is an example of this, with two reels largely independent of one another. In the first, an innocent encounter photographed out of context makes it look like Fatty is cheating on his wife with a married woman (Louise Fazenda). This unleashes this jealous fury of Fatty's harpy of a wife (Norma Nichols) and the girl's burly Alaskan husband (Edgar Kennedy). The second reel finds these combatants relocated to a hotel, in adjacent rooms, where they can continually bump into one another in a state of constant misunderstanding.

If it sounds like a slight premise, in a way this was a sign of growing comic maturity. At the beginning, Keystone comedies relied on sending funny people to interesting places (like the San Diego Exposition, for example) and let them improvise. By this point, Sennett had started to realize that he could do without the high concept setups, and just let the funny men and women go.

By David Kalat

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