The Drunken Mattress

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 1, 2015

Here’s another simple, single situation. And this time it’s very nicely explored. There’s some really striking, appealing use of long shots—long in camera placement, long in duration, long in the exploration and integration of visual planes (cf. the terrific shot when the drunk waddles in from the very way back of the frame). Camera placement is nice, and the settings, though effective enough for the story at hand, are even better for something that may have been unintended. They’re lovely, and they contain all sorts of interesting historical data.

The fact that that guy is really somehow sewn up in that mattress is no end of helpful. Also, this is one of the best uses I’ve seen of a man playing a woman in a comic film. (Though you’ll never surpass those Henry Bergmans in Chaplin’s The Immigrant. [Then try him in A Dog’s Life!]) This character has to go through a lot of rigourous physical activity, a lot of physical punishment! But though they use a man to pull it all off, this man plays it matter-of-factly, even modestly, the result being that you’re not really very aware of the switch. It’s very low-key playing, kind of unusual for this knee-slapping, protesting too much period. The topper, or the concluding gag, isn’t quite Hal Roach-perfect, but it’s good, and ends the film on a satisfying comical-structural note.