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The Saphead (1920)

Not Rated | | Comedy | September 1920 (USA)
The simple-minded son of a rich financier must find his own way in the world.

Writers:

(original play "The Henrietta"), (play) | 2 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward Jobson ...
Beulah Booker ...
Agnes Gates
...
Mr. Musgrave
Edward Alexander ...
Watson Flint
...
Mark Turner
Odette Taylor ...
Mrs. Cornelia Opdyke
Carol Holloway ...
Rose Turner
...
Dr. George Wainright
...
Nicholas Van Alstyne
...
Bertie Van Alstyne
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Storyline

Nick Van Alstyne owns the Henrietta silver mine and is very rich. His son Bertie is naive and spoiled. His daughter Rose is married to shady investor Mark. Mark wrecks Bertie's wedding plans by making him take the blame for Mark's illegitimate daughter. Mark also nearly ruins the family business by selling off Henrietta stock at too low a price. Bertie, of all people, must come to the rescue on the trading floor. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

September 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A mamlasz  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Buster Keaton was recommended for the role by Douglas Fairbanks, who had created the role on Broadway and turned down the chance to play it again in the film. See more »

Goofs

When Bertie's car pulls up to the house after the aborted wedding, the front gate is closed, but when he gets out of the car it is wide open. See more »

Quotes

Bertie: All they do here is knock off hats, but I enjoy it. It occupies the mind.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Keaton Wasted
2 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

This isn't a Buster Keaton film; it's merely a film starring Keaton. Having Keaton star in this feature-length, supposedly more-serious film (as opposed to the short comedies Keaton himself made) was a shrewd business move by Joseph Schenck, to boost Keaton's popularity for his upcoming projects, especially among the critics. It's an ironic twist that today "The Saphead" is only as widely circulated as it is because of its association to Keaton. Keaton was one of the greatest screen comedians and, at times, was an innovative filmmaker. Sapheads, however, made this film.

The light melodrama is worthless, and I think the comedy isn't funny. To have Keaton only act as a good-natured idiot is to limit and waste his talents. The film itself is a filmed play, with yappy intertitles and an awkward mix of melodrama and comedy, none of which works. Keaton understood comedy--the gags, timing and momentum. Watch Keaton's best films (even his lesser ones) and you can see the huge difference between them and this--how and why they are funny and this isn't. Keaton also knew that cinema isn't theatre, that intertitles should be used economically in silent film, and he knew how to parody melodrama to mix cohesively within a comedy. "The Saphead" can be, at least, instructive in demonstrating how good Keaton's films are.

(Note: Some scenes are slightly damaged.)


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