Tuesday, February 27, 2018

So Why Keaton, Part 2: Buster In Film

Buster Keaton became known as The Great Stone Face since he never smiled in films. If you believe that statement then you've never viewed Buster's early work with Comique.

Buster with Josephine Stevens in The Rough House, 1917

He smiles, laughs, and even cries. There are later smiles too. Le Roi des Champs-Elysees is the brightest example, and highly tuned fans have picked up on smiles in other films that snuck through editing. I never bought into "The Great Stone Face" persona even though the title does have a nice ring to it. Buster Keaton was an excellent actor with or without a smile. His eyes, his mouth, his body were used in subtle and not so subtle movements to convey emotion and advance a story. The audience knows what he's thinking sans any dialogue.

Great actors have a very noticeable presence in every scene no matter the screen time. This is usually called "stealing" the scene or show. I feel it is more a mastering of their profession. When a master is at work, in any field, it's hard to look away and an honor to watch. Buster became a scene stealer in his very first film. He had over 15 years of vaudeville behind him where, I imagine, he stole the show too. It's hard not to watch him.

Buster with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in The Butcher Boy, 1917

We also have Buster Keaton, the director. Buster Keaton, the writer. Buster Keaton, the editor. Buster Keaton, the pioneer. His early resume in Hollywood is very impressive and has rarely, if ever, been matched. Not to mention film was a relatively new medium when Buster took the reins. He used a lot of standard gags but broke a lot of new ground too. Anyone interested in film, past or present, would definitely benefit from a good study on Buster's career.

Sherlock Jr, 1924

Keaton's career, especially his early work, is the major cause of my Keatonholism.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Random Keaton Note #4

In 1932 Buster Keaton's baseball team played against Joe E. Brown's team at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles (Keaton's team lost).



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Poll Results 2/14

The votes are in: of the choices given, Sybil Seely is the favorite BK leading lady. Well done, Sybil!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Rough House Trailer

Here it is: our trailer for the 1917 film The Rough House. We are joining the Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, Feb. 12 & 13, hosted by Silent-ology.

Enjoy our video and all things "Buster" during the blogathon!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

So Why Keaton, Part 1: Buster in General (no pun intended)

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, 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.

UPDATE 6/19/18: The BK/Damfino Society has revamped their website and apparently removed the book recommendations.