Bridge Too Far

Late Roscoe Arbuckle. Directing under the name “William Goodrich.” I could have tormented your retinas and imaginations with WINDY RILEY GOES HOLLYWOOD, which is also late Arbuckle and furthermore late Louise Brooks — two veterans of the silent screen washed up on the shoals of the talkies, but I decided to show mercy. The thing is hugely unfunny and his direction is as wooden as her acting — here we see the true reason old movies are flammable.

But BRIDGE WIVES fascinates. Arbuckle moves the camera with some of his former facility (he was a brisk, capable filmmaker) and if the thing isn’t exactly hilarious, it’s bizarre enough to be eye-catching. The homicidal and suicidal tendencies on display are also kind of interesting, in the context of Arbuckle’s life, and the “from poverty” aesthetic works in a vaguely REEFER MADNESS kind of way. There’s enough speed to stop it choking on its own cheapness, so the lack of production values just adds an endearing patina of decay.

I also dig the very high walls ~

By this time, “Fatty” had returned to the screen as star in some two-reelers, having been forcibly retired (officially banned by the Hays Office) for almost ten years. I can’t find any evidence that his directing pseudonym, William Goodrich, had a middle intial B at any point, making it stand for “Will B Good.”

The year after BRIDGE WIVES, he died.

Buy Fatty!

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3 Responses to “Bridge Too Far”

  1. I did hear some claims of a “William B. Goodrich” moniker being used in the ’20s, but the short film it was said to be used on I found contained the usual William Goodrich. So it was either on another film, an inside joke, or a typical Hollywood tall tale. I assume you’ve seen the Keaton Educationals, and those are “from poverty” as well, so I think that was a hallmark of Educational in the sound era.

    I suppose they’ll get around to releasing Arbuckle’s Vitaphone shorts someday.

  2. David Boxwell Says:

    Shirley Temple’s appearances in her Educational Pictures shorts (i.e. “Kid in Hollywood”) seem to have been orchestrated by pedophiles. Some very weird stuff going on at that company circa 1932…

  3. Agreed. Keaton’s programmers, though cheap and unstructured, have some really strong moments along the way. Most of them fall into two halves, like they couldn’t sustain a situation nor could they connect it plausibly to a second situation, but often at least one situ is funny. I just got one of Arbuckle’s starring vehicles from this era and I’m hoping for at least a few laughs. I saw one once as a kid and thought it was pretty good — I was amazed it existed, since I knew about Fatty’s fall but nothing about his painful climb back up.

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