“Spitting flour, he leaps up and continues with the mayhem, swinging brooms, tossing pies, dodging flour bombs and climbing the wall shelves, throwing everything within reach. It is chaos, exactly as he loves it.”
~ Binnie Brennan (Like Any Other Monday)
Today marks the release of the 1917 movie, The Butcher Boy, one of Roscoe Arbuckle’s first independent short films and one which is notable for Arbuckle having cast a talented young vaudevillian named Buster Keaton.
In the early stages of writing my novel, I experimented with writing my way into various key events in Keaton’s life as a stage performer. One of the vignettes I turned out, titled A Sound Like Love, features young Buster/Billy making his first stage appearance at the age of three. I then wrote another vignette titled The Butcher Boy, 21-year-old Buster/Billy’s first appearance before a moving picture camera. The former became the prologue to my novel; the latter appears near the end.
I feel it’s worthwhile celebrating this 98-year-old movie. For the keeners among you, here it is, a slightly grainy version of Roscoe Arbuckle’s 1917 two-reeler, The Butcher Boy. Buster first appears at around 7:05. I’ve also written about the day Buster improvised his first scene in The Butcher Boy (link here)