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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Living the Silent Life

Since I can't take you all with me all of the time, here is one of the films I saw on Saturday at the SF Silent Film Festival, Winter/Valentine's Day Event.

Buster Keaton in his second film, an entertaining romp of love and vengeance called Our Hospitality. From the program notes:

Set against the drama of an age-old feud between two families, Buster Keaton's ingenious take on Romeo and Juliet is a laugh-out-loud parody of Southern hospitality, circa 1830. Upon learning he's inherited the ancestral estate, Buster takes the first train home to reclaim his heritage. Soon he's courting a sweetheart and dodging her family's bullets. Buster's daredevil rescue attempt above a waterfall is one of the all-time great movie stunts.

The wondrous live piano accompaniment was provided by Philip Carli, who is also the pianist in residence at the George Eastman House (where, when I win the lottery or inherit a fortune, I will be enrolling in film conservation classes, fyi).

If I was forced to pick my favorite silent film comedian, I'd have to pick Harold Lloyd. BUT my very very very close second would be Buster (who got his nickname as a child from none other than Harry Houdini, how freaking cool is that?!) That face ("The Great Stone Face") just kills me. He was such a pro. I'm not going into one of my silent film raves now (you can look up past ones yourself), but gosh darn it, I'll watch a Buster Keaton film a million times before I rent the Director's Cut of the Boring Sappy Blech of Benjamin Button.

Some very kind and patient person uploaded the entire film here, viewable in three parts. For those of you who (like me) despair of most modern cinema experiences nowadays, here you can watch a film full of stunts that are real (no special effects), great comedy, no special effects, and no special effects. Just imagine, a movie without CGI! How ever did they do it?!


ps.: I know that most of you (all of you?) won't watch the entire film if any of it, but if you do (maybe there's a lull at work?), there's a scene in part 2 here where a man kicks a hat off of another man's head (no special effects, just incredible gymnastic ability). That man was Buster Keaton's dad, who makes a brief cameo. And Keaton's son, billed here as Buster Jr, makes an appearance in the beginning of the film, as the baby. Keeping it all in the family. Oh, and his wife is the love interest. So there you are.

pss.: The full SF Silent Film Festival is scheduled this year for July 10-12. So don't call or write to me then. But I'll save you a seat!

Watch Buster Keaton - Our Hospitality 1/3 | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

part 2

Watch Buster Keaton - Our Hospitality 2/3 | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

part 3

Watch Buster Keaton - Our Hospitality 3/3 | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com


TheElementary February 17, 2009 at 4:21 PM  

I came on here to tell you we had both written about book fairs yesterday.
And then I find you've written a post about a movie I was on the very cusp of ordering from the library... I wasn't sure which Keaton one to get but I thought I'd get 'Our Hospitality' tomorrow because it has 'Sherlock Jr.' on the same disc. Two for one.
We do think alike. I was away, and I surely missed your posts.

J9 February 17, 2009 at 6:48 PM  

And this was filmed in Truckee, CA

Char February 17, 2009 at 7:01 PM  

one of the things I loved about Birmingham was the annual sidewalk movie festival which showed many shorts that most people never get to see.

plus, I personally boycott Brad and Tom. just because you make films does not make anyone an expert on religion or politics. blah.

So, I will watch Hitchcock's The Rope instead.

Mari February 17, 2009 at 8:37 PM  

That was such a blast! Thanks for posting, as always... ; )

namastenancy February 17, 2009 at 11:47 PM  

Buster was an amazing physical comedian. If you have time, read a biography of him - his was a story of pain and tragedy but (in some ways), he triumphed over both.

julochka February 18, 2009 at 1:00 AM  

i love your silent film raves. those really were the days...sigh.

julochka February 18, 2009 at 1:02 AM  

p.s. i ADORE the font on the intertitles...

KennethSF February 19, 2009 at 1:12 AM  

Last year, I watched Buster Keaton in Sherlock Holmes Jr., accompanied by the Club Foot Orchestra. It had me laughing out of my chair.