Parlor, Bedroom and Bath Film Details
Overview: A man tries passing off a socially awkward fellow as a Casanova in the hopes of marrying off his would be sister-in-law.
Review: To be fair, one can see why a studio not quite sure what to do with a sound-era Buster Keaton might assume that they’d found the perfect property for him in this whiskery farce (originally penned in 1917)… “There’s this little guy who makes good and gets the girl, there’s this great chase and a bit of tumbling, and Buster won’t have to speak too much — sounds just like that old stuff he used to do!” One can also see why those viewing the ultimate result might privately start to wonder if Keaton was all washed-up in the new era: he is clearly uncomfortable with his shambling half-wit persona (there are a couple of moments when he forgets himself into poised alertness, which only make the rest more pathetic), he is having trouble with the dialogue, and the only ‘good’ parts in his performance are those which hark back to the old days… a bit of contortionism and some physically entangled embraces. Keaton, apparently, disliked the whole project from the start. Posterity might tend to agree with his judgement. After the relatively unpretentious, ‘independent’ feel of “Doughboys”, we have the return of the creaky-joke brigade. This may be a stage farce, but it’s not Noel Coward material; even Charlotte Greenwood as the gossip columnist can’t make her lines in the study interview sound plausible, and Walter Merrill as the indignant husband and Reginald Denny as the younger sister’s fiancé seem to have particular trouble getting their material out without sounding stagey and thoroughly over the top. The character of Angelica is quite simply unbelievable — I can just about swallow her at the start, as the woman who is intrigued by a man she believes to be a dashing lady-killer, but her ecstatic reaction to the discovery that he is apparently eloping with another woman, as opposed to indignant jealousy, is too much for me to credit. The character is pure cardboard, constructed for the sake of the plot. But, then, of course, so are all the rest. Miss Greenwood manages by and large to overcome the script; the others don’t. Keaton doesn’t get a lot to say, and doesn’t say it with any great conviction, since he spends most of the film running away either physically or metaphorically; the one time I felt he was actually able to do something with the character was in the little scene where his hapless Reggie is obediently slipping out of the house to the hotel rendezvous with another woman that his mentor has set up to make him look like a practised man of the world. His moment of relief here, when he is accosted by Nita, and assumes that she — rather than some unknown and unnerving professional — is to be his companion in the deception, is vivid and touching. He duly performs his various tumbling tricks, being thrown to the ground, bouncing across chairs, doing a swallow-dive over the back of a sofa in the hotel lobby (and a very nice one into the swimming-pool, pyjama-clad), and getting knocked down by a car; this last decidedly unconvincingly, as the car brakes and then Keaton rebounds suddenly sideways into the shot, presumably because staging an actual collision was thought to be too dangerous. Perhaps the funniest moments are when he tries to climb a tall blonde in order to kiss her, and later when she kisses him and he ends up in a steamy clinch with his knees over her shoulder. The climactic gag from the very first film he released, “One Week”, also makes an appearance, as Nita’s car is missed narrowly by one train only to be struck by a second one on the other line moments later; if you haven’t seen the 1920 picture — and of course without the benefit of home movies few of those watching ten years later would have had much recollection of it — this is probably the best shot in the film. But if you have seen Keaton’s silent shorts, and recently at that, the reference highlights rather painfully the principal contrast with this picture; the physical skills are still there, but the endlessly fertile direction behind them isn’t. Buster Keaton’s talent was never simply for falling over to order; what is missing here is that trademark escalation and almost profligate cascade of consequences. Nine times out of ten the gags are predictable. Especially as they tend to be repeated remorselessly until the thickest members of the audience have cottoned on; just how long can water dripping from Reggie’s hat onto the hotel register be milked for the same laugh? The water-on-the-floor sequence that follows is a prime example of the gulf between the antics in Buster’s own films, where he consciously prided himself on second-guessing the viewers, and MGM’s grasp of how they worked. If people falling over once is funny, then people falling over repeatedly must be funnier — right? Wrong, sadly; wrong, unless you’re playing to the lowest common denominator in the audience (and maybe after all they were; maybe that’s what paid). People falling over once is funny, but people *not* falling over the second time and something else unexpected happening instead — that’s funnier and more sophisticated, and Buster knew that, none better. Unfortunately, all that happens here is that people fall over… lots. The scenes with Charlotte Greenwood stand out; she clearly has a good understanding of physical comedy, makes the most of a poor script, and of course makes a striking foil for diminutive Buster — I’d have liked to see them work together again with better material. Reginald Denny gives a hammy performance. Keaton is uninspired and clearly has little input into his role. Not a very good film in all, but at least it’s not actually painful…
Duration: 73 min
Also known as: Romeo in Pyjamas,Romeu de Pijama,Parlor, Bedroom and Bath,Don Juan i pyjamas,Переполох в отеле,Recibidor, dormitorio y baño,Szalon, hálószoba és fürdő,キートンの恋愛指南番,Parlor Bedroom and Bath,Frigo zvodca zien,Pamplinas em Pijama,Вітальня, спальня та ванна кімната,Salonik, sypialnia i kąpiel,Io… e le donne,Pyjama-Romeo,Pobre Tenorio