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.