According to a Wikipedia article about this 22 minute short, it was believed to be lost until it was discovered in Norway. So, if you want to feel like you discovered lost treasure, here’s your chance. Fatty Arbuckle is the headliner in this production and Buster Keaton gets second billing.
Your humble reviewer is particularly interested in silent film and the older, the better. Anything pre-1920 is interesting. Apparently, Arbuckle and Keaton make sixteen shorts together and this is the eleventh.
Arbuckle was an interesting person and one of the first big stars in movies. The Wikipedia article about him is quite interesting and tells the story of his troubled life. Arbuckle and Keaton were apparently good friends, having met in New York City.
Interestingly, both Arbuckle and Keaton were natives of Kansas. Arbuckle was born in the Northern Kansas town of Smith Center and Keaton is from a flyspeck point on the map called Piqua in Eastern Kansas. Your reviewer is a native of the State of Kansas as well and has been through both towns. Piqua, Kansas is not much more than a country grain elevator and a handful of houses clustered next to the road.
As in many short films, The Cook is a comedy that has a loose story. Arbuckle is a cook in a fairly nice restaurant. Keaton is the assistant chef and a waiter. Arbuckle’s performance as a cook is probably similar to what actually goes on in the kitchens of popular restaurants today.
There’s some pretty clever stunts involving the passing of food and drink from Arbuckle to Keaton and note the large pot on the left side in the photo above. It seems to magically dispense all sorts of things when needed.
We get several minutes of frivolity around the restaurant when in enters a villain (Al St. John). He causes some problems and the action shifts out onto the street – which is an amusement park. I suspect that this is Coney Island.
The ending seems to come abruptly but it makes sense. Apparently, the actual ending has been lost.
To this reviewer, this kind of fare is a treasure. Don’t pass up any chances to see it.