Buster Keaton found rich possibilities for physical comedy in this tale of a wealthy milquetoast who is forced, through a series of outlandish coincidences and misunderstandings, to train as a boxer.
Based on a popular Broadway musical comedy, the story revolves around two Alfred Butlers – one (Keaton) a timid, mild-mannered millionaire, the other a boxing world champion. When Butler-the-fop finds love with a mountain girl (Sally O’Neil), he assumes the identity and arouses the wrath of Butler-the-Brute, leading to a dramatic showdown in which the brawl is very much on.
Keaton always selected Battling Butler as one of his favourite features and the picture proved Keaton’s biggest success, outgrossing Douglas Fairbanks’s Black Pirate in its first week on Broadway, encouraging Joe Schenck to give the go-ahead for Keaton’s most ambitious production, The General, with a budget set at half a million dollars.
With an introduction by film editor and PhD student of Keaton's filmmaking, Polly Rose (University of Bristol) and with live musical accompaniment by Guenter A. Buchwald and Frank Bockius.