The Rough House

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The Rough House
Poster to The Rough House
Directed by
Written by
  • Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
  • Buster Keaton
  • Joseph Anthony Roach
  • Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
  • Buster Keaton
Cinematography Frank D. Williams
Edited by Herbert Warren
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • June 25, 1917 (1917-06-25)[1]
Running time
22 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent
English intertitles

The Rough House is a 1917 American short comedy film written and directed by and starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.[2] The Rough House was Keaton's first film as a director.


Early morning in the Rough family household and Mr Rough (Arbuckle) falls asleep while smoking and wakes up several minutes later to find his bed on fire. Still in an early morning daze, Rough calmly walks out of his bedroom, through the dining room and into the kitchen, seeing that the only item big enough to carry water is a cup he makes several trips to the bedroom armed with only a cup of water each time to extinguish the fire. Eventually Mrs Rough and her mother discover the fire and call for the delivery boy (Keaton) to fetch the hose and Rough eventually succeeds in putting out the fire after initially squirting everything but the fire. Later, while trying to flirt with Mrs Rough a fight breaks out between the delivery boy and the house cook and they chase each other through the house. Rough eventually throws both of the men out of the house and they are arrested by a passing policeman. Rough's mother in law insists that Rough clean the house before their dinner guests for the evening arrive. Meanwhile at the police station the delivery boy and the cook agree to join the police force in order to avoid being sent to prison. Back at the house Rough makes a complete mess of the dinner, embarrassing his wife and mother in law in the process, culminating in him setting fire to the dinner table after pouring gasoline onto the steak instead of rum. During the chaos, two of the dinner guests sneak away and steal one of Mrs Rough's necklaces, luckily a passing policeman sees the theft, telephones the station for backup and the chief of police sends his two latest recruits: the delivery boy and the cook to deal with the situation. At the house the policeman attempts to arrest the thieves but they make a break for it and hide in the cellar. After their journey to the house is delayed when the delivery boy gets stuck on a fence, the new police recruits eventually arrive at the house just in time to unintentionally stop the fleeing thieves by bumping into them. Mr Rough takes back the necklace and the thieves are taken to jail.



Like many American films of the time, The Rough House was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. The Chicago Board of Censors cut the scene showing the theft of beads from the film.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Knopf, Robert (2 August 1999). The theater and cinema of Buster Keaton. Princeton University Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-691-00442-6. 
  2. ^ Bennett, Carl (ed.). "Progressive Silent Film List: The Rough House". Silent Era. Retrieved February 26, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. 5 (7): 33. 11 August 1917. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 

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