The Gilded Cage

In December 1919, Joseph Schenck presented a new plan. Roscoe would be moved permanently from shorts into features. No other male "slapstick" comedian had yet done tha..

Furthermore, Paramount's Adolph Zukor sweetened the deal by offering Arbuckle a million dollar a year contract. Roscoe gave up control of "Comique" to Buster Keaton - who would take over the making of comedy shorts - and signed with Paramount.

In retrospect, this appears to have been a mistake. Much like Keaton would find out at M-G-M in the late '20s, Arbuckle found that the higher salary also meant loss of creative control.

During the next eighteen months, Roscoe would star in nine features. Understandably, making new features at the rate of six a year caused a drop in quality. By silent comedy standards, they are poor.

Impossibly, Zukor had production speeded up by having Arbuckle work on three films simultaneously. Exhausted by eighteen months of constant work, Roscoe took a three day vacation to San Francisco.

He walked into disaster.

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