The Taming of the Snood
(aka Four-Thirds Off)

Length: Two reels
Release date: June 28, 1940
A Columbia Pictures Production
Producer: Jules White
Director: Jules White
Script: Ewart Adamson and Clyde Bruckman
Photography: Henry Freulich

Buster Keaton: Hat Shop Owner
Dorothy Appleby: A Jewel Thief
Elsie Ames: A Maid
Richard Fiske: A Detective
Bruce Bennett: A Detective

Buster owns a rather funky “Parisienne Hat Shoppe” (all items at 4/3 off…), and is opening for the day just as a pretty female jewel thief is trying to hide a stolen diamond ring from the police. She goes into the hat shop and decides to buy a small porkpie hat. Unbeknownst to Buster, she hides the ring in the hat, and asks him to deliver it to her apartment. Buster does this, and finds the thief’s dancing maid, who accidentally knocks herself out.

Buster tries waking her up by giving her scotch, but is distracted by the thief’s parrot, Polly, and gives the main too much to drink, which makes her drunk, so Buster has to control her before the thief comes home. Buster hides the now-unconscious maid behind a curtain as the thief arrives. However, the thief notices that two police detectives are waiting outside, so she snatches the ring, and ties it to her parrot’s foot. The maid wakes up, but the ruckus scares the parrot out onto the window ledge. Buster is forced at gunpoint to get the parrot.

Buster and the maid wind up on a flagpole with the parrot. The police detectives, meanwhile, have forced themselves into the thief’s apartment. The flagpole breaks and Buster and the maid fall back into the thief’s apartment. Buster gives the diamond ring to the thief before he and Hortense pass out. Then the thief faints from being caught. The film ends as one of the detectives becomes excited about being promoted until he faints. — Nick Ciccone