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Roscoe Arbuckle

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stuart.uk
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Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby stuart.uk » June 7th, 2011, 9:46 am

In the UK we've been enjoying Paul Merton's doc series The Birth Of Hollwood, which concentrates on the Silent Era. In part 2, much of it was about comedy actor Roscoe Arbuckle. Arbuckle at his pk, in the 1910s, seems to have been right up with Chaplin, perhaps even bigger, before that eventful party in 1921, where Virginia Rappe was alleged to have been raped and murdered by Roscoe.

After seeing the James Mason narrated Hollywood, when that tackled the subject, I believed Roscoe was innocent and was treated shamefully by both Hollywood and the U.S Goverment. On seeing the Merton show, which suggests Roscoe was treated even worse than what I imagined. It could be Paul saw the incident through rosie coloured spectacles, but he produced evidence to back it up.

I had always imaged it was a wild party, but a reconstruction of events suggested it was little more than a gathering of friends. Roscoe who had just finished filming a movie, wanted a break and left Hollywood for San Francisco with 2 mates. It appeared all he wanted was a quite night in his hotel room, when he was asked if he knew Virginia. He said yes and she was invited to the party, as was another woman Maude Delmont, who appears to have been the real villian of the piece. Virginia retired to a room where she was violently sick. Roscoe even left the hotel for a while, thinking nothing of it.

Later on Virgiinia died and Delmont accussed Roscoe of her rape and murder. It was claimed Virginia's dying words were Roscoe hurt me, but it was suggested in the doc in trying to help her when she was ill, he may have accidently caused her some pain.

It seems they were able to medically prove there was no sign of any sexual assult and that she may have died as a result of several illegal abortions which damaged her body, yet prosocuter Matthew Brady decided to go after him for the alleged rape and murder. However, it looked like he wanted the scalp of Roscoe to help him with his political career. As for Delmont, the key witness. She wasn't allowed to even take the stand.

There were 3 trials. The first was a mis-trial, because 2 jurors found Roscoe guilty. One, a woman was alleged to be a feminist, who refused to accept under any circumstances Arbuckle's innocence, not even prepared to look at the case files. It was later it was found out her husband was in someway connected to Matthew Brady
In the 2n trial the defence blundered by not allowing Roscoe to take the stand, the result another mis-trial with most of the jurors finding him guilty. In the 3rd trial, he was not only found not guilty, but he recieved an apology from the court.

Though innocent Roscoe was destroyed and black listed from working in Hollywood. It's really sad that in the 30s he was on the verge of a great comeback, he died of a heart attack the same night he made the statement This is the happiest day of my life.

During the trial his best friend Buster Keaton was prepared to give a character referrence in court, but was told he might do more damage to Roscoe's chances, as Hollywood at that time had a bad moral reputation. Chaplin to from London also spoke up for him

It's a wonder there hasn't been a major movie about Roscoe's life

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MichiganJ
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Re: Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby MichiganJ » June 7th, 2011, 1:27 pm

stuart.uk wrote:During the trial his best friend Buster Keaton was prepared to give a character referrence in court, but was told he might do more damage to Roscoe's chances, as Hollywood at that time had a bad moral reputation.

Keaton stood by Arbuckle throughout. Even though he was blacklisted, Keaton hired Arbuckle to direct Keaton's short Daydreams and Arbuckle likely directed at least some of Sherlock Jr.

Western star William S. Hart was outspoken against Arbuckle. In his short The Frozen North, Keaton was merciless in his depiction of Hart, portraying him as a cry baby.

Not many in Hollywood stood by Arbuckle, but Keaton's friendship was unfailing.
stuart.uk wrote:It's a wonder there hasn't been a major movie about Roscoe's life

At different points John Belushi, John Candy and Chris Farley were in talks about an Arbuckle biopic. Instead of a biopic, I'd be happy with a good biography.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 7th, 2011, 2:10 pm

I watched the episode Stuart. If the story interests you there is an excellent book that has been written about Roscoe written by Andy Edmonds, it should be available in the library system, I'd recoomend it. I think this is where Paul Merton would have got most of his information from, I wolud recommend it, it's thorough and will give more of a background to the character of Maude Delmont and others involved in the case. I found it fascinating after reading the book to see the layout of the rooms, they weren't as big as I'd though them to be. Roscoe was the victim of a few different movers and shakers, each with there own agenda, it's a shame because Roscoe Arbuckle comes across as one of the nicest of all the early screen stars. Buster Keaton did stand by him, as did Charlie Chaplin, he helped him invest in some real estate. Roscoe Arbuckle ended up working as director to Marion Davies, despite Randolph Hearst's influence in the case. I always feel sorry for Virginia Rappe, in standing up for Roscoe her name is usually besmirched, the evidence given in this programme points to either an illegal abortion or a bladder complaint which couldn't have been treated by anti biotics. I'm glad Paul Merton spent time setting Roscoe's reputation helping get back where it should be.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby Gary J. » June 7th, 2011, 3:23 pm

I wouldn't recommend anything by Andy Edmonds. I find her to be a bit of a hack.
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MichiganJ
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Re: Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby MichiganJ » June 7th, 2011, 3:47 pm

Gary J. wrote:I wouldn't recommend anything by Andy Edmonds. I find her to be a bit of a hack.

Me, too. Not only that, she doesn't include notes or citations.

Best to wait for the Gierucki bio.
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stuart.uk
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Re: Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby stuart.uk » June 8th, 2011, 12:28 pm

I wonder how Marion Davies felt when Hearst in his own way tried to destroy Arbuckle, in order to sell more of his newspapers. Maybe privately she disapproved, but publically couldn't go against a man who had so much control over her life

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Roscoe Arbuckle

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 8th, 2011, 2:17 pm

MichiganJ wrote:
Gary J. wrote:I wouldn't recommend anything by Andy Edmonds. I find her to be a bit of a hack.

Me, too. Not only that, she doesn't include notes or citations.

Best to wait for the Gierucki bio.


I didn't realise Andy was a woman, I'd be surprised if anything was made up about Roscoe Arbuckle, she seems very even handed about him. I might have to look into the Gierucki bio.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin


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