He Did and He Didn’t (1916)

FATTYANDMABELOversizeStillHEDIDANDHEDIDNT He Did and He Didn’t (1916)

Run time: 20 min
Rating: 6.2
Genres: Short | Comedy | Drama
Director: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle
Stars: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, William Jefferson
A doctor, very much in love with his beautiful wife, comes to suspect that her visiting childhood friend Jack is more than just a friend. Jack’s intentions are honorable, but everything he does tends to show his actions in a suspicious light, especially when burglars invade the house and Jack and the wife are caught together in their nightclothes. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>
Release Date: 30 January 1916 (USA)

4 responses to “He Did and He Didn’t (1916)”

  1. rgkeenan says:

    Several of Roscoe Arbuckle's films have titles which became cruelly ironic in the hindsight of his 1921 trial for manslaughter: notably 'The Life of the Party' and this two-reeler, 'He Did and He Didn't'. There's a famous photograph of Arbuckle in evening dress, gaping in horror as he drops Mabel Normand down a staircase. That photo is a publicity still from 'He Did and He Didn't', though it doesn't actually correspond to any scene in the film as it now exists.

    Arbuckle rose to film stardom playing boobs, rubes and bumpkins. By 1916, he had autonomy over his own films and was able to impose some tastefulness. Here, he plays a dignified and wealthy suburban doctor, in a loving marriage to Normand. But then Jack, her handsome beau from high-school days, arrives. There are no 'fat boy' jokes here. Instead, Arbuckle uses underplayed and sensitive acting to compare himself unfavourably to the leaner and manlier Jack. It's clear that Arbuckle's character loves his wife deeply but is (in some unspoken manner) unable to satisfy her, possibly down to sexual impotence. When Jack arrives to stay the weekend, the three of them sit down to a dinner of lobsters — allegedly a male aphrodisiac — prompting Mabel to comment that they'll all likely have nightmares.

    SPOILERS COMING. Arbuckle (in a car with right-hand drive) is lured to a remote location on a ruse, so that he'll be away when burglars invade his house. It's up to Jack to defend the fair Mabel. Arbuckle returns home, distraught, and then — believing that his wife has cuckolded him — he calmly strangles her. This scene is immensely disturbing in its own right, and even more disturbing in the light of Arbuckle's real-life tragedy a few years later.

    The payoff: remember those lobsters? Sure enough, it WAS all a nightmare … and Mabel has remained faithful to her husband. There's a good performance by Rube Miller as Arbuckle's saturnine butler, and Al St John's tumbling skills get a protracted showcase here. 'He Did and He Didn't' is an astonishing film: quite removed from the lowbrow slapstick of Arbuckle's early Keystone efforts, yet still extremely funny. Watching this movie, I deeply regret that Arbuckle's career was so tragically and unfairly terminated just as he was nearing the heights of his talents. I'll rate this fine funny movie 10 out of 10.

  2. rgkeenan says:

    This is one of the remarkable short comedies that Arbuckle turned out at the end of his contract at Keystone while he was in New Jersey, far from Sennett's grasp: quite possibly the best. Elaborate, realistic sets, varieties of characterizations — here he plays an irascible doctor who is jealous of wife Mabel's old boyfriend –and the darkest lighting in a comedy until BRINGING UP BABY combine to produce a comedy far from Keystone's frenetic mold.

    Add in Arbuckle's casual gags and the result is an excellent comedy that is still highly watchable — except, of course, when you are trying to make sense of real-life nephew Al St. John's awful mugging and high-speed rowdyism. Still, the man can take a fall.

  3. IMDBReviewer says:

    Once again a jealousy motif is used to set up a fast moving comedy involving a husband and wife (FATTY ARBUCKLE and MABEL NORMAND) and a visitor from her past who spends the night under their roof.

    Fatty is the suspicious husband when he catches the two of them flirting in the parlor and from then on the plot takes on a few other turns involving robbery, guns and mayhem when burglars enter the scene.

    Not the usual elements found in a typical Fatty Arbuckle short, and he does well as the doctor who harbors strong suspicions about his wife's behavior with her old boyfriend.

    A clever ending adds a little more zest to the whole story.

    Summing up: Passes the time pleasantly and it's fun to watch the well-timed physical comedy.

  4. IMDBReviewer says:

    I am just starting to familiarise myself with silent films. This comedy short was on the DVD I purchased, with "Mickey" .

    I love Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton but I am unfamiliar with comedy from the very early years – apart from Charlie Chaplin and the zany chases from the Keystone Cops. This was quite amazing, almost a sophisticated comedy from Fatty Arbuckle. The subtleties of acting for this 1916 comedy were, I thought, quite advanced.

    Fatty plays a doctor, who along with his cute wife, Mabel Normand lives in a comfortable home. The whole look of the comedy was, I thought, very real (there were no obvious cheap sets – the house looked real, the roads looked real – nothing looked fake.)

    Things don't seem to be going too well between them at the start. Mabel seems loving but giddy and when a childhood friend comes for a visit, Mabel and he begin to flirt. Fatty becomes quite jealous and tears up a photo that Mabel had given Jack. They sit down to a lobster dinner, joking that it might give them nightmares.

    Meanwhile two thieves plan to rob the doctor's house. One, pretending to be lame asks to see the doctor, while the other does the thieving – but the doctor soon discovers the ruse and sends the "cripple" about his business. One of the thieves rings the doctor and gets him out of the house on a bogus house call.

    When Fatty is out the robber (Al St. John) hides under Mabel's bed. She goes to Jack for protection and there is an extremely funny sequence involving the robber jumping, running, swinging from the chandelier – doing anything he can to dodge the bullets from Jack's badly aimed gun. Fatty returns home to find Mabel and Jack (having sent the robbers fleeing from the house) holding hands and he believes that was why he was called from the house. More gun play ensues and the comedy turns quite black as Fatty decides the world would be a better place with Mabel and Jack not in it!!!

    I won't spoil the end but the whole comedy (apart from Al St. John's wonderful comedic acrobatics) is one of subtle acting and nuances from Arbuckle. It is a wonderful little film and I can recommend it.

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