"The Garage" was Arbuckle and Keaton's last comedy together. Keaton's Stone Face still hadn't arrived yet; in "The Garage" he cries, laughs, and mugs. But the Keaton pratfalls are well in evidence here, especially those that involve a rotating platform in the garage. Keaton spins and crashes headfirst, bouncing off of his own noggin before twisting and tumbling on the ground. "The Garage" is a wildly inventive comedy, with loads of good sight gags. In one scene a dog attacks Keaton and rips off his pants; however, Keaton uses his knife to cut out a Scotish kilt for himself from a billboard. And in another scene, Keaton and Arbuckle (as firemen) get halfway to the fire when they realize they're wearing the wrong hats, so they return to the firehouse/garage to get the right ones.
However, the best of the Arbuckle comedies may well be "Fatty and Mabel Adrift" (1916). If Arbuckle has a masterpiece, this is it. Arbuckle plays a hired hand who falls for the farmer's daughter (Mabel Normand), but the son (Al St. John, Arbuckle's real-life nephew) of the neighboring farmer wants to marry her--so that the farm lands can be united. Arbuckle wins her, though, and they get married and move to a beach cottage. St. John pursues them and hires a band of robbers to help him push the house out to sea. Fatty and Mabel wake up as their beds are floating on the waist high water. As outlandish as the plot might be, some of the best moments in this short come from the quieter moments, such as the ingenius vignettes that present us with the major characters: a heart-shaped vignette shows us the smiling Fatty, and another heart-shaped vignette shows us the demure Mabel. A well-placed arrow from Cupid brings the two hearts together, in a heart that swells, while Al. St. John watches and stews.
Al St. John moves to the forefront in "The Iron Mule" (1925), directed after Arbuckle had been banished from the movie screen as the result of an infamous scandal. Nevermind that Arbuckle was acquitted of any wrongdoing, his career in front of the camera was ruined, but he continued making comedies, such as this one, which features the same quirky train built for Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality. Buster Keaton himself takes a starring role in "The Boat" (1921), one of his very finest shorts (in a newly remastered and orchestrally-scored version that improves on the version included with Kino's The Art of Buster Keaton). Keaton stars as husband who has built a huge boat in his basement. After nearly demolishing their house while getting the boat through the small basement door, Keaton takes his family on a watery outing.