The Chemist

Length: Two reels
Release date: October 9, 1936
An Educational Pictures Production
Presented by: E.W. Hammons
Distributed by: 20th Century-Fox
Producer: Al Christie
Director: Al Christie
Story: David Freedman
Photography: George Webber

Buster Keaton: Chemistry Professor's Assistant
Marlyn Stuart: His Sweetheart
With: Earl Gilbert, Donald McBride, Herman Lieb

In this rare film, Keaton is teamed up with Al Christie as (co-?)director. Elmer Triple is the titular chemist and research fellow, whose inventions include breakfast powders, growth powders, and rather suspicious “love powders”, whom he gives to some girls as candy. He also develops a “noiseless explosive” powder, which he will display at the next local conference. But just as the conference starts, three crooks start taking notice of the powder and pose as professors at Elmer’s school to get it. They force Elmer to take his powder with him to the bank, but he brings the love-powder instead, and thus can’t blow the safe open.

The crooks go back to get the powder with Elmer, and he evades them. A chase begins. Meanwhile, the actual professors are mistaken for the crooks and arrested. The chase ends with Elmer throwing the powder on the crooks and holding them at seltzer-bottle point. He directs them to the judge who arrests the crooks and sets Elmer’s peers free. To celebrate the gift of science, he gives them one of his powders, thinking it’s the one that will make them strong. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong powder and it shrinks them to half their size. Elmer then runs into a blonde girl he met earlier and flees with her, throwing the explosive powder into a trash can. — Nick Ciccone