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Film / Fatty's Tintype Tangle

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Fatty's Tintype Tangle is a 1915 Slapstick Farce starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. In this two-reel short, Fatty stars as a husband who loves his wife but is browbeaten by his domineering mother-in-law. After taking several swigs from a jar of liquor to boost his courage, Fatty tells off his mother-in-law and walks out. He goes to the park, and sits on a bench next to a woman who has recently arrived from Alaska to her husband. A photographer in the park mistakes Fatty and the woman for lovers and snaps a picture (a "tintype"). The husband also misreads the situation and threatens Fatty with violence. After the husband threatens to murder him, Fatty heads out of town. Unfortunately, he misses his train. Even more unfortunately, his wife decides to go back to her mother's and rent out her house—to the same wife and jealous husband that had the encounter with Fatty in the park.

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This lively short was longer than most Arbuckle films, at two reels (20 minutes) instead of the usual one reel. It features a surprising stunt in which a terrified Fatty attempts to flee by tightroping across power lines. Fatty's Tintype Tangle was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1995.


Tropes:

  • Acrofatic: Arbuckle was very nimble for a man of his size. Here he shows a talent for juggling, flipping pancakes in a pan and flipping his hat onto his head. Even more impressively, the climax of the film features Fatty running back and forth on electric power lines as the jealous husband takes potshots at him.
  • Banana Peel: Played shamelessly straight—just as Fatty is leaving his house, a random passer-by eats a banana and throws away the peel, just in time for Fatty to slip on it.
  • Bathtub Scene: A rather atypical use of this trope, as it's definitely not Fanservice—it's the battleaxe mother-in-law that Fatty intrudes in on while she's bathing, much to their mutual embarrassment. There's an interesting moment right after this where Fatty and his wife laugh about her mother's embarrassment, and Fatty mimics the mother-in-law's attempt to cover her breasts and private parts. The movies could get away with a lot in 1915.
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  • Bottomless Magazines: The husband fires a whole bunch of bullets from his two pistols.
  • Curtain Camouflage/ Dramatic Curtain Toss: Fatty comes back home after missing the train, only to find to his horror that the couple he met in the park are now living in his house. He tries to hide from the jealous husband by diving behind the shower curtain. It doesn't work.
  • Farce: It's even described as a "farce comedy" in the opening title card.
  • Immune to Bullets / Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy / Shot in the Ass: It's genuinely difficult to figure out what's happening. The jealous husband pulls out a pair of pistols and starts firing at poor Fatty. He misses the enormous target that Fatty provides many times from point-blank range, but he also appears to hit Fatty in the butt more than once. Fatty doesn't even slow down. Finally, he seems to hit Fatty square in the chest, and Fatty collapses, whereupon the husband has a My God, What Have I Done? moment—until Fatty jumps up and jams the husband's hand in a meat grinder.
  • In Vino Veritas: The "Dutch courage" variety (the movie calls it "distilled courage") in which Fatty drinks from his jug of liquor before telling his mother-in-law off. He overdoes it, and winds up wrecking his kitchen.
  • Lemming Cops: The Keystone Kops. Here they are used as Mack Sennett usually used them at Keystone, not as stars of the feature, but as part of the comic climax. The jealous husband's wife calls the Kops in a panic, and the Kops pile into a tiny Model T and engage in a ridiculous race to Fatty's house. Naturally, they don't help the situation at all.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: As usual in Fatty Arbuckle films and other slapstick films of the era, this time between Fatty and the jealous husband.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: The man in the park misinterprets a friendly hug between his wife and Fatty, and flies into a rage. Then Fatty's mother-in-law sees the picture of said hug and marches back home to reveal Fatty's supposed cheating to her daughter.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Fatty's mother-in-law yells at him and pushes him around, yet still demands a kiss at breakfast.
  • Zip Me Up: Another weird non-sexual use of this trope, as Fatty's mother-in-law demands that he zip up her dress and tighten her corset. Between this, the Bathtub Scene, and the kiss that the mother-in-law demands from Fatty, there's more than a hint of something Oedipal going on.
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