By now some readers might be thinking, "What's with the Buster Keaton obsession?" Well, there are dozens of reasons to lead to Keatonholism. So many, in fact, that I decided to break up this thesis type post into more than one. First I'd like to give an introduction to Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton for the sake of bringing everyone up to speed. He was born on October 4, 1895. Let's make that reason number one: the man was born 122 years ago and people still talk about him-- at least this person does. He joined his parents' vaudeville act at a very young age. Sources vary from 3-5 years old. From that point on, he never stopped working.
Young Buster with his parents, Joe and Myra, c. 1900
At 21 he entered the burgeoning world of film. Not only did he act and do fantastic stunt work but soon was writing, directing, editing, he even might have popped the popcorn at the theaters (just kidding). In addition to films made in the U.S. and Europe, Buster was on the stage, in television, made commercials, published his autobiography, won an Oscar, played baseball (at Wrigley Field no less), had two sons, built a mansion, travelled the world...
I'd like to stop there, leaving the impression Buster was a god or hero, but he was human. He had his troubles too. Divorce(s), alcoholism, bankruptcy. Yet, he persevered, even triumphed. If nothing else, the man was a survivor.
So in general, Buster Keaton was an amazing person who led an amazing life. Maybe he really was a god.
Obviously this is a micro briefing on BK. If you are looking for more detailed info, check Wikipedia for a quick read. There are several biographies of Buster available. The Damfinos' (International Buster Keaton Society) website has a very informative list of books written about our hero; they also have a good biography on the same site. Documentaries have been made about Buster too; check Youtube.
Silver17 will be participating in the Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silentology. We will be debuting a mock trailer for the 1917 short film The Rough House. This was Buster Keaton's second film with Comique and Roscoe Arbuckle. Some sources credit Buster as co-directer (with Arbuckle). That is quite a jump from a supporting player in his first film.
The Rough House is prime silent-era slapstick all the way. Rough and tumble action combined with visual gags and just enough plot to hold it together. Buster plays two or three different roles, depending on your point of view: a brief appearance as a gardener then a delivery boy turned cop.
Besides Roscoe and Buster, the early Comique regulars are along for the ride too: Al St. John, Alice Lake, Josephine Stevens, and Agnes Neilson. Glen Cavender also has a role in this. He joined Buster in The Cook, and The General and has a long list of other films to his credit.
Apparently The Rough House was quite a hit at the time-- at least in Burlington, Wisconsin.
from Motorgraphy, 1917
When watching The Rough House, one should know some original footage is missing. Reportedly there is more to Buster and his fellow cops trying to find their way to the Roughs' residence (I refrained from using the word "house" one more time) by running around NYC. I also read one review which has Fatty depositing his bothersome mother-in-law into the ocean at the end, but I have never seen such footage nor read any other information on this ending. Wouldn't it be wonderful to travel back and see these films as originally released? One can dream...
The blogathon will take place on February 12 & 13, 2018 at Silentology. A number of interesting Buster topics are already on the roster-- take a look. If you've never visited Silentology, run don't walk over. Great info on all things "silent."