January 30, 1916: Mabel Normand and Roscoe Arbuckle in «He did and he didn’t»

Movie poster for the movie «He did and he didn’t» with Roscoe Arbuckle and Mabel Normand.

In this dark comedy, released on January 30, 1916, Roscoe «Fatty» Arbuckle plays an overweight doctor who eats too much lobster and then dreams that his wife (Mabel Normand) is cheating on him with a school friend that is visiting their house. Arbuckle usually played soft, good guys but in this case he was given a chance to do something else and he actually delivered. There were a few funny scenes throughout the film but when it is not working in regards to laughs it still remains interesting just because of how dark the story is and how it goes about trying to get laughs with dark issue like murder, shootings, abuse and other dark targets.



The Doctor (Roscoe Arbuckle) and his wife (Mabel Normand) are a happy married couple living in a richly furnished mansion. Things begin to happen when Mabel’s old schoolmate (William Jefferson), comes to visit her. Their innocent pleasure in talking over old times during a home dinner where lobster is eating in high demand, is misunderstood by the doctor who gets upset about the situation, but Mabel pays no attention to him. Furthermore, furtive glances between the Wife and her schoolmate make the doctor fume with rage and jealousy.  The evening ends when the Doctor sends his wife and the schoolmate to bed, and reject his wife’s affection when she tries to explain herself.

Complications occur aplenty owing to the machinations of crooks. They send a hurry-up call for the Doctor, saying that a patient is dying in a nearby town. He jumps in his fancy car and drives away.  At the house, the wife knocks on the wall that separates her room from his schoolmate’s and lures him into her room, where both embrace and Mabel whispers something into his ear.  The schoolmate realizes that there is a burglar under the wife’s table (Al St. John) and begin chasing him a pistol shooting at him plenty of times without having to recharge bullets.  The wife tries to call the police, but the burglar rips the telephone from her and tries to strangle her, leaving her for dead before jumping out of the window.

In the meantime, the doctor reaches to the address he was given, and finds out that it is an empty house.  He gets enraged, believing that his wife has double-crossed him and races back home in his fancy auto. When the Doctor gets in the house, he finds the schoolmate trying to put Mabel in bed, who has still not awakened. The doctor is furious and knocks the schoolmate down several times until he finally throws him out of the same window the burglar had jumped before. The doctor then turns on Mabel and chokes her, leaving her for dead. He leaves her on the floor, but she suddenly comes to and picks up the gun and with fury in her eye, she pursues him to the stairs where she shots him dead. The doctor falls and slides halfway down the stairs, turns a complete flip-flop, and comes to rest with a thud at the bottom.

At that point both the schoolmate and the doctor wake up of their respective nightmares and rush to the wife’s door, where they open the door to see the wife peacefully sleeping, and then they come to terms (sort of) as they remember the lobsters.

Film reviews:

Motion Picture News:


Lobster taken promiscuously have dire results when the recipient retires for the night. That is their effect on two gentlemen in «He Did and He Didn’t,» and a most disastrous and precarious nightmare is the result. Fatty is a physician, and he dreams of receiving a late call. His wife’s friend dreams of a burglar in the house and of playing the hero. Fatty goes on dreaming of his friend as false and returning to discover the friend and his wife together, both of them, incidentally, in night clothes. Then Fatty dreams of a tragic finale to all three, and afterwards both men awake and remember the lobsters.

Such is this most recent of Keystones — an average number, nothing wildly funny, but cleverly done, very cleverly done, for as a nightmare it is handled realistically and the awakenings of the two dreamers comes as surprises. The subject, however, has much action that is threadbare, such as a considerable amount of chasing and shooting, while the scene in which the friend comes to protect the wife from the burglar waxes surprisingly risqué for the moment. But then Roscoe Arbuckle is present with his ludicrous actions, and Mabel Normand is always fascinating. Al. St. John and William Jefferson are others in the cast.

This is the first Triangle-Keystone made in the East, and Arbuckle, who directed, has paid particular attention to pretentious sittings and good light effects as well as the element of comedy.

«He Did and he Didn’t» does not approach the same high level as «Fatty and Mabel Adrift«.