The Cook

The Cook is a 1918 American two-reel silent comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and featuring Buster Keaton and Al St. John. The movie is a slapstick comedy and focuses on goings-on at a high-end restaurant with Arbuckle as the Cook and Keaton as the Waiter.

The Cook
Film poster
Directed byRoscoe Arbuckle
Produced byJoseph M. Schenck
Written byRoscoe Arbuckle
StarringRoscoe Arbuckle
Buster Keaton
Al St. John
Alice Lake
Glen Cavender
CinematographyGeorge Peters
Edited byHerbert Warren
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 15, 1918 (1918-09-15)[1]
Running time
22 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The film is notable for a scene spoofing the 1918 Theda Bara film Salomé, with Arbuckle dancing around with a length of sausage links and pots and pans. It also contains many of Arbuckle's favorite food gags and some well-received work by Keaton.[2]


Fatty is the head chef at the "Bull Pup" restaurant where Keaton serves as the head waiter. One evening while service is in full flow Keaton and Fatty entertain the crowd with their dancing (despite breaking most of the plates and bottles in the restaurant in the process). The fun is soon spoiled when a vagrant (St. John), referred to as "Holdup Man" in the film's credits, comes in and begins ruining everyone's good time and dancing with the waitress (Alice Lake) against her will. Fatty, Keaton and the manager are no match for Holdup Man but he is subsequently scared off by Luke, Fatty's dog. Later, Fatty and Keaton join a pair of gentlemen in the restaurant for a big plate of spaghetti, not being able to replicate the correct way of eating it they resort to their own methods of eating one string at a time and cutting the pasta with scissors to make it shorter.

The next day Fatty plans a fishing trip with Luke while Keaton simultaneously takes the waitress on a date to the amusement park. Fatty takes a shortcut through the park and knocks several people out with his exceptionally long fishing rod before arriving on the beach. The waitress gets separated from Keaton and is chased around the park by Holdup Man and ends up falling off the top of a roller coaster, falling into the sea. Holdup man is chased off by Luke yet again and Fatty and Keaton attempt to rescue the waitress but find that the key to a flotation device is "in a courthouse one mile east". Acting fast, they grab a rope to throw to the waitress but Keaton falls off the pier still holding the rope and drags Fatty in with him.

Preservation status and restoration

The movie was believed to be a lost film for several decades before a damaged nitrate print was uncovered in the Norwegian Film Archive in 1998 in an unmarked canister with A Reckless Romeo (1917).[3] Another print, with 600 additional feet of footage (about eight minutes), was found in the EYE Film Institute Netherlands in 2002, and the two were combined, using the synopsis from the Library of Congress as a guide to create the restored version, although there are still missing scenes.[3][4] This version is currently available on the DVD The Cook and Other Treasures.


See also


  1. Knopf, Robert (2 August 1999). The theater and cinema of Buster Keaton. Princeton University Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-691-00442-6. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  2. Neibaur, James L. (2007), Arbuckle and Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc, Publishers, ISBN 978-0-7864-2831-1
  3. Susan King (February 17, 2003). "Restoring highlights of bygone eras". Los Angeles Times.
  4. The genius of Buster Keaton: the short films collection DVD. Kino. 2010. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
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