The Rough House

Released: June 25, 1917
Length: Two reels
Presented by: Comique Film Corporation
Distribution: Paramount Pictures
Producer: Joseph M. Schenck
Director: Roscoe Arbuckle
Scenario: Roscoe Arbuckle
Story: Joe Roach
Editor: Herbert Warren
Photography: Frank D. Williams

Roscoe Arbuckle: Mr. Rough
Buster Keaton: Gardner/delivery boy/cop
Al St. John: Butler/cop
Alice Lake: Maid
Agnes Neilson: Mother-in-law
Glen Cavender: Cop


Knockabout slapstick breaks out constantly in Mr. Rough’s house. The film begins with a fire in Arbuckle’s bedroom. After musing that somebody ought to do something, he tries to extinguish it with a few teacups full of water. When his wife and mother-in-law learn of the blaze, they scream and alert the unhelpful help (Lake and St. John). All run into the bedroom where Keaton, the gardner, wets down the blaze and the cast.

Later, at breakfast, Arbuckle makes the rolls dance to Lake’s delight and Neilson’s disgust. His wife and mother-in-law leave. Keaton, the delivery boy, arrives and falls down several times. When St. John pulls a mop out from under him, Keaton picks up a knife and the chase begins. After nearly destroying the house, they run outside where a cop nabs them. Mrs. Rough returns to find him examining Lake’s ankle. She throws her out and hands him a broom. Meanwhile, at the police station, the chief decides that he has enough crooks and not enough cops, so he hires Keaton and St. John.

Later, at the Rough house, two dukes arrive for dinner with a detective lurking behind them. Arbuckle, demoted to cook, prepares the dinner. He serves the soup course by wringing it out of a sponge. He’s out of rum, so he uses gasoline to make a flambe. The commotion caused by the fire allows one duke to sneak into the bedroom and steal a pearl necklace. The detective calls the police station. Keaton, St. John, and another cop are sent over hill and dale to the house. The detective gives Arbuckle a gun and they both shoot at the thieves as they run. Eventually, the thieves run into the cops, and the detective finds the pearls on them. — Lisle Foote