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Buster Keaton

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movieman1957
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby movieman1957 » October 11th, 2011, 3:08 pm

The baseball scene you refer to I believe is in "The Cameraman." Though he does a lot of running as he runs through the track sports at the coliseum.

Some of the earlier Keaton movies have some nice romance though not overly so. "Our Hospitality" has some sweet understated scenes. He always seems to be trying to court a young lady but it is usually met with some confusion and bumbling.
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby ChiO » October 11th, 2011, 3:13 pm

Anarchy is what I want from my comedians

Excellent point.

something no one else in movies can achieve

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby kingrat » October 11th, 2011, 5:07 pm

I tried about the first 15 minutes of SPEAK EASILY and am not sure I can finish this one. The timing is so off, the editing and rhythms are so off. The director, Edward Sedgwick, worked perfectly with Keaton on THE CAMERAMAN. Was THE CAMERAMAN all Keaton and SPEAK EASILY all Sedgwick?

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby JackFavell » October 11th, 2011, 7:05 pm

'Scuse me? May I introduce you to ===============================================================>


Oops! Let me amend that statement.... :D :D :D


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.

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby kingrat » October 12th, 2011, 11:38 am

Thanks, JF. That accounts for what we see on screen, and it's heartbreaking.

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby Gary J. » October 12th, 2011, 12:09 pm

Or to put it another way.....

THE CAMERAMAN was mostly Keaton with some minor interference from MGM.
SPEAK EASILY was mostly MGM with some minor interference from Keaton.

Either way Kingrat is right, it is heartbreaking.
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby Rita Hayworth » October 12th, 2011, 12:28 pm

Gary J. wrote:Or to put it another way.....

THE CAMERAMAN was mostly Keaton with some minor interference from MGM.
SPEAK EASILY was mostly MGM with some minor interference from Keaton.

Either way Kingrat is right, it is heartbreaking.


I never cared for Speak Easily, because its has no Buster's charm in that movie and what Gary J. puts it is "right on the money" I saw SPEAK EASILY once ... and did not like it one bit; and vowed never see it again!

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 12th, 2011, 2:01 pm

I've watched Parlour Bedroom and Bath and it's so sad, when you've watched his own stuff, it's easy to understand the pain he must he felt. I'm not sure there was another way to fight MGM, he'd treid the talking and tried convincing but they weren't having it, so he turned to alcohol which just made Mayer surer of his gut feeling about Keaton, one gets the impression that he was never keen on Keaton, it was Thalberg who saw the genius, the viewing figures for the MGM Keaton's were better than the independents so they felt vindicated.

His story has much sadness yet thankfully, it ends on a happy note with his films being rediscovered and him receiving accolades before he died.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby MichiganJ » October 20th, 2011, 4:18 pm

Among the titles up for pre-order at Warner Archives are a few Keaton talkies:

Sidewalks of New York
Doughboys
What! No Beer?

http://www.wbshop.com/Pre-Orders/ARCHIV ... lt,sc.html
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby JackFavell » October 20th, 2011, 4:29 pm

Mich - which movie is your avatar from? All your pics have been great! I'm lovin' Halloween month!

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby MichiganJ » October 20th, 2011, 4:50 pm

JackFavell wrote:Mich - which movie is your avatar from? All your pics have been great! I'm lovin' Halloween month!


She's the Panther Woman from The Island of Lost Souls. (Kathleen Burke--who won a contest to get the part.)

Boo!
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby JackFavell » October 20th, 2011, 5:01 pm

Oh, I should have known! Gosh, I haven't seen that movie for years. For some reason that photo looks like it's from the forties to me.

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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby intothenitrate » October 28th, 2011, 8:31 pm

Hey guys, sorry to have been such a slacker. A few months ago--before a torrid affair and a new job knocked me out of my comfortable SSO orbit--I was watching the Keaton talkies and trying to figure out something good to say about them.

We have the luxury today of being able to look at an artist's "catalog" in any order we want. With Buster, we can watch him taking a sack of flour in the face in an Arbuckle production, pop in a another disc and watch him running, and running...and running in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, or laugh out loud at his underplayed brilliance in the cameo bridge game in Sunset Boulevard. [....."Pass."]

This kind of 20/20 hindsight certainly makes us smarter and more astute; it gives us a kind of omniscience about an artist's work. It's hard not to make comparisons. So, when I try to appreciate these early Keaton talkies, I stay mindful of the fact that the public had to wait for these films to come out one by one. And when the next one came out, people would say, "There's a new Keaton picture, let's go see it." I think of the historical backdrop against which the films were made, and It must have seemed like a world away from the golden days of the twenties.

Yes, life sucked for Keaton then...but it sucked for most of the rest of the country too. And despite the shortcomings and limitations of the vehicles, I can see how hard he's working to make it work anyway. He's not doing it to add another achievement to his body of work, he's doing it to help me forget my troubles for 90 minutes.

So that's my secret. That's how I can get inside a Keaton talkie and thoroughly enjoy it.
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby Gary J. » October 29th, 2011, 1:03 am

Gee.....I've never used pity towards a filmmaker before in order to get through a comedy.

I should try that on Adam Sandler.
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Re: Buster Keaton

Postby JackFavell » October 29th, 2011, 10:45 am

I agree, intothenitrate. Everyone has hard times, and there have been times I've stayed away from a movie because it seems too painful to watch. I did this with The Misfits for years, and it turns out I missed a really great movie, with spectacularly good performances from Marilyn and especially Clark Gable. So much for staying away from movies due to where the performers were in their personal lives. Granted, the Jimmy Durantes and some of those thirties films are not great movies, but neither are Joe E. Brown's, but I find them entertaining to watch occasionally.

I watch Buster's talkies when I am in a good mood, and I agree, there are nuggets and gems in most of them. Perhaps my favorite bit in any MGM film is Buster's miraculous and spectacular pratfall with the violin in In the Good Old Summertime. Think of missing that because I don't like the studio politics! Boycotting doesn't accomplish anything now. I also figure that at a certain point, there is a joy in watching him come back to life. He wanted to work, so if we appreciate him for it, there is nothing wrong in that.

I also remember where I started out with classic films - my first real classic was Room Service, by the Marx Brothers. I just loved it, so I looked for more. Imagine if I turned up my nose at the film because it wasn't an original script, or because the boys have too much plot surrounding them? I'd never have gotten into classic film at all.


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