The Bell Boy

The Bell Boy is a 1918 American two-reel silent comedy film directed by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle for the Comique film company.

The film stars Arbuckle and Buster Keaton as bellboys in the Elk’s Head Hotel. They cause trouble with each other and guests. The elevator is powered by a stubborn horse, a sham robbery turns into a real one, and there is a chase on a runaway trolley. Much of the material in this film was later re-used by Keaton in his 1937 film Love Nest On Wheels. One sequence involving a mop was reused by Keaton in his last film appearance in The Scribe.

The Plot

Fatty and Buster play a pair of incompetent bellhops who are constantly careless with guest’s luggage and slack on the job. One morning a new customer named Rasputin the Mystic arrives at the hotel asking for a shave and Fatty, being a skilled barber, is happy to oblige. He cuts his hair and facial hair in a way which first makes him resemble Ulysses S Grant, Abraham Lincoln and finally Kaiser Wilhelm (America had entered World War I only months earlier). His attention is soon turned, as is Buster’s, to an attractive new hotel manicurist, Cutie Cuticle, and they begin to bicker and fight over her. While Fatty finishes dealing with Rasputin, Buster gets stuck in the hotel elevator, and while attempting to free him, Fatty accidentally propels Cutie into the air and onto a moose head mounted on the wall. Fatty and Buster both rescue her, but Fatty takes all the credit and scores himself a date with Cutie.

In order to make himself look even more heroic, Fatty arranges for Buster and the hotel clerk to pretend to rob the town bank so that Fatty can show up on the scene and apprehend them in front of Cutie. However, when Buster and the clerk arrive at the bank they discover that it is already being robbed. The robbers brawl with Fatty, Buster and the clerk, and in the ensuing chaos the thieves get away, hijacking a horse and trolley and riding out of town. Fatty, Buster and the clerk chase the trolley on foot; the local livery stable proprietor (who is also the town constable) gives chase on a motorcycle. The trolley become unhooked from the horse whilst in the middle of an uphill climb and come speeding back down the hill before crashing into the hotel lobby. The thieves are arrested; Fatty is given a reward for apprehending them, and receives a kiss from Cutie.

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