'Scuse me? May I introduce you to ===============================================================>
Oops! Let me amend that statement....
Was THE CAMERAMAN all Keaton and SPEAK EASILY all Sedgwick?
kingrat, I think that's exactly it, according to the documentary posted here. Eddie Sedgwick was a friend of Keaton's, but they were under strict rules put into place by Mayer at MGM. They boxed Keaton in, making the producer the man in charge, rather than the director. Producers had the last word. Between 1925 and 1928, over half the directors at MGM were fired or quit in disgust. Keaton had signed his contract there because he hadn't wanted to produce any more, since money matters were distracting. MGM let him run on his first film, The Cameraman
. Afterwards, they decided, wrongly, that what had made it a success were their restrictions on Buster. They didn't realize he had worked around those script and budget restrictions during shooting. The next film would have to be scripted (rather than worked out on set, as Keaton always did) and budgeted even more tightly. Keaton would not get script approval back after this film. They started to squeeze him into a mold. Thalberg, who liked Keaton, insisted that he work to the scripts provided by the scenario department. MGM brought in New York writers and stage directors who were bent on using word gags, using stars who talked incessantly, like Jimmy Durante (who would figure prominently in Buster's career later on).
By the time Speak Easily
came around, they had effectively cut Keaton's responsibilities down to just one, actor. One of the things Keaton couldn't bear was exactly what they did to him - gave him a script that made him a "sad" clown, something he abhorred. He had always said he would never beg for the audience to like him or feel sorry for him. He might give his character some sympathetic characteristics, but never outright beg for affection. They then stopped him from doing his own stunts. Keaton began not to care about the work, because it wasn't quality....unthinkable just a year or so earlier, when he and his crew ate, drank and slept movie-making. Most of his crew dispersed to work on other films. Keaton was stuck, and on his own.