Minutes Of Pleasure: “Coney Island” (The Two-Reeler)

There are no moral—or therapeutic—messages in the 25-minute silent flick, Coney Island (1917).  Just hilarity.

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, starring here, also directed and did so with a proper sense of scope and an appreciation of space.  “Fatty,” on the beach, slips away from the wife who treats him like a child and begins to enjoy the delights of Coney Island.  The main delight he enjoys is the company of the pretty girl (Alice Mann) courted by Buster Keaton and later by goofy-looking Jimmy Bryant.  Keaton has two rivals now, and unyielding anger flows nearly to the flick’s finish.  One likable sight gag follows another.  There is a perfect economy to the whole thing, and the performers, positively including the women, are superb.

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