Tuesday, March 7, 2023

the last book I ever read (Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life, excerpt five)

from Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life by James Curtis:

Roscoe Arbuckle’s three trials for manslaughter left him owing more than $100,000, including a $50,000 payment reportedly due to lead attorney Gavin McNab. Having lived on cash flow for so long, Arbuckle had little in reserve to meet these obligations and began the dispiriting task of dismantling his former life, selling anything of value for as much as he could get. In May 1922, he was said to be flat broke, having sold his Cadillac touring car to Keaton and his Cadillac speedster to Eddie Cline. He deeded his house on West Adams, which he purchased in 1920, to Joe Schenck as security on loans Schenck had made to cover his legal expenses.

In a statement to Lanning Warren of United Press, Arbuckle said he was so heavily in debt that he had no hope of coming back in any line of work until he could once again make pictures. “I’m not sobbing, however. Hays has said my pictures are banned pending an investigation, and I’m sure he’ll find I’m the victim of persecution. But until he makes his decision, I’m making no plans for the future.” Keaton’s first impulse after the Hays edict was to give Arbuckle work behind the camera, and that, it appeared, couldn’t happen soon enough. A forlorn, almost ghostlike figure, Roscoe had taken to hanging around the United Studios where he had made his Paramount features. “He has nothing to do,” Warren’s article reported, “and walks around the studios watching the people who used to work for him. Since his arrest last fall he has had no income whatever, except a check recently received from the Buster Keaton company for a scenario Fatty wrote.”

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