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The Round Up Poster 72 DpiRoscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle is the star of this film, his first for early pioneer Director, Jesse Lasky. He plays “Slim” Hoover, the sheriff of a small Arizona town, who

Fatty Arbuckle Bio
Fatty Arbuckle

cannot get a break with the ladies. He has several bits that remain funny 95 years later, my favorite being the scene where he’s trying to dress for a wedding in nicer clothes than his everyday duds. He splits every vest and coat he tries on, and in disgust throws the rags of a coat on the floor. When he bends over to pick it up he suddenly looks up at the camera with an astonished look on his face, and you know instantly what just happened.

There is a plot working around his attempts to get a girlfriend, and it is a rather typical, irritatingly corny, silent movie romance, but with less honor. Dick, a prospector, is tortured and robbed by a gang of renegade Indians, led by Buck McKee (played by Wallace Beery). However, Dick does not die, but is found and taken to a hospital in Mexico. He emerges, months later, with a permeant limp, and writes to his dear friend Jack to tell him that he lives, and to please give his fiancée, Echo the enclosed letter (why doesn’t he send the letter directly to Echo? Not enough stamps?). Jack, who is now engaged to Echo, burns the letter. Seriously, if it weren’t for “Fatty” nobody would consider watching this today. In the end the moral is go ahead and lie and cheat on your best friend if it gets you his girl.  – Bickering Critic Review

When “The Round-Up " came to Inyo County by Chris Langley

It is unclear why they came to the area, although there is evidence Paramount was not the first to be here. It appears that a film company was working in Death Valley in 1917. The local newspaper suggests other companies had been here to film scenes, but that The Round-Up would be the first feature film to be entirely on location in Lone Pine. Clarence Badger first bought property in the Lone Pine area in 1917 as well, although not part of the land he would finally build his ranch on, now known as the Cuffe Ranch of Movie Fame. Badger would have known Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle from the days they shared at Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios, so perhaps Badger told Arbuckle about the untouched locations perfect for this western film. The film would be Arbuckle's first feature film, and a change of pace from the many two reel comedies that made him one of Hollywood's first mega stars. He wanted the best locations for the film that would be based on a successful stage melodrama by the same name. Tom Forman also starred in the film and had written the scenario used for the film. Forman would later come back to the area to film The Virginian (1923)

At some time during this period he had bought a ranch outside of Bishop, but it is unclear if he had already been to the Owens Valley before The Round-Up. The local paper The Inyo Independent, in its January 3, 1920 edition announced the arrival of the company to film. "The Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle Motion Picture Company is in Lone Pine, where big preparations are under way for the production of pictures." Remember this was before the construction of the Dow Hotel, built in 1923, specifically to accommodate the ever more frequent visits of film companies. At least some of the stars and director probably stayed at what is now called the Old Lone Pine Hotel on Main Street. Crews for the next three years could not get lodging in town and stayed in tents nearby or even up at the locations.

The news article continued, "The hotel and lodging house accommodations in Lone Pine will be taxed to their utmost when all the company shall have arrived." The relationship between Lone Pine and the movies was close from this point on. Joy Anderson,    told local historian, Dave Holland for his book On Location in Lone Pine that a rancher named Al Gallaher first supplied horses and cattle and whatever else the companies needed to film. He moved on to Calistoga in the early Thirties, so it was then that her father Russ Spainhower took over almost all the movie work, earning him the title, "Mr. Movies," in the local area. Joy has several pictures of The Round-Up being made on the streets of Lone Pine and she assumes that the pictures were taken by her father so he must have been there and probably involved with that production on some level.

The local newspaper of the 1920's and 1930's clearly show Lone Pine to be an area that made a lot of its own entertainment. So you can imagine if the town is full of show people, what better to do for recreation than to have them put on a show. According to The Independent, that's exactly what they did do. The paper of January 17th announced "a classy, up-to-date vaudeville show for two nights later, by members of the Fatty Arbuckle Motion Picture Company." What an opportunity for fun and a break in the humdrum life in a small isolated town to have one of the greatest movie stars of the moment and his friends put on a show for you. The writer stated, "The talent in the Arbuckle Company for this sort of entertainment is said to be of a high order, and we have been informed that there will be something worthwhile doing every second at Lone Pine next Monday night." No review followed, but we can only dream of having been able to attend that once in a life time event here. The entertainment to be provided by The Round-Up was not at an end, however. Slightly less than a year later, just before Christmas, the film played in Independence. The Round-Up will be given tomorrow night, Sunday, December 24, 1921 at the Independence Theatre. Two shows will be put on to accommodate the large number who will want to see the picture.

"No mention is made of the fact the film had been made in the area a year before, but the writer is enthusiastic about the quality of the show.  "The Round Up is best described as six reels of undiluted laughs and hair raising thrills, for it shows the corpulent comedian in comedy situations that characterized his former short funfests as well as a dramatic portrayer extraordinary.

ARCHIVE: Joy Anderson presents Film Museum with Fatty Arbuckle belt from "The Round-Up"

ARCHIVE: When the Round Up came to Inyo County


Contact Info

The Museum of Western Film History
701 S. Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545