The Garage
(aka Fire Chief)

Released: January 11, 1920
Length: Two reels
Presented by: Comique Film Corporation
Distribution: Paramount Pictures
Producer: Joseph M. Schenck
Director: Roscoe Arbuckle
Scenario: Jean Havez and Roscoe Arbuckle
Photography: Elgin Lessley

Roscoe Arbuckle, Buster Keaton: Jacks-of-All-Trades
Molly Malone: Garage Owner’s Daughter
Also: Harry McCoy, Daniel Crimmins, Monty Banks, Luke the Dog


Arbuckle and Keaton are the town’s only mechanics, cops, firemen, and dogcatchers. While Arbuckle mimes cleaning a car window, Keaton adds some wood alcohol to his lunchtime soda. Back at work, their flying exchange of a wet rag, a custard pie, a pail, and a tire results in a dirty car and the boss in the water tub. When they try to rescue him, they end up in the tub, too. The customer comes for his car, so Keaton and his boss must distract him with dances and tricks while Arbuckle cleans it on a rotating turntable. Another customer demands a cheap rental car. Arbuckle gives him a key, and he drives off. The engine explodes and the car disintegrates around him. He comes back for one with a less excitable engine.

Jim, the village Casanova, comes to visit Molly, the bosses’ daughter. Arbuckle and Keaton manage to coat them both in grease. Molly retires to her bath, and the men clean Jim off with gasoline, then blow him dry on the turntable. Jim still wants revenge, so he hires Luke to impersonate a rabid dog. Luke runs past the garage and Arbuckle and Keaton chase him — until he turns around and chases them. Keaton gets stuck in a fence and Luke chews off his pants. A woman is horrified by the sight of him in his under shorts and she gets a cop. Thinking quickly, he cuts out a kilt from a nearby billboard. The cop refuses to arrest him just for being a Scotsman, but his Highland jig reveals that his kilt has no back and the chase is on. Along comes Arbuckle, and Keaton walks in sync behind him, hiding from the cop. He steals some pants, and in one fluid motion Arbuckle picks him up, he puts the pants on, and they continue on their way.

Meanwhile, upstairs at the garage, Molly is still mad at Jim for the grease incident. He turns to leave, but her father and Arbuckle are coming up the stairs. Fearing being caught, he goes into Arbuckle and Keaton’s room and tries to slide down the fire pole, but he’s blocked by Keaton who’s climbing up. He hides under a bed. Arbuckle and Keaton settle for a nap, and Jim pulls the fire bell. They slide down the pole, put on their police helmets, and run out with the hose cart. Jim tries to escape, but Molly’s dad runs through, slides down the pole, goes out, and padlocks the garage door. Arbuckle and Keaton notice that they have on the wrong helmets, so they run back to the garage, unlock the door, get the right helmets, and run back to their hose cart. Their boss re-locks the door. Jim uses a blowtorch to burn a hole in the door, then tosses it aside. It causes a car to explode, which sets the whole garage on fire. On a hill, Arbuckle and Keaton look for a fire. Their boss comes and tells them that the garage is on fire. They go back, but a leaky hose thwarts their firefighting efforts. Jim calls for help from an upstairs window, and they bring out a stretcher to catch him. Then Molly yells and they move to catch her. Jim leaps and lands on the ground, goofy but not broken. Molly bounces on the stretcher and lands on the power wires. Arbuckle and Keaton climb up and rescue her, and then they drop into Molly’s car. — Lisle Foote