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The Play House (1921)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,333 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 13 critic

After waking up from his wacky dream, a theater stage hand inadvertently causes havoc everywhere he works.

Directors:

(as Eddie Cline) , (as 'Buster' Keaton)
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Title: The Play House (1921)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Audience / Orchestra / Mr. Brown - First Minstrel / Second Minstrel / Stagehand (as 'Buster' Keaton)
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Storyline

The opening scene, a dream sequence prior to the vaudeville routines which follow, is what makes this film famous. In it Keaton plays everyone in a theatre simultaneously (through multiple exposures). He is the band leader, all its members, the dancers on the stage and everyone in the audience. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy | Fantasy

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

6 October 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Playhouse  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2005 DVD release) | (1995 Film Preservation Associates print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The multiple Busters on screen together were created in the camera, using a special lens with shutters to film only a portion of the scene at a time. Buster would perform one part, then the cameraman would crank the film back and open another shutter to film another part. A banjo player with a metronome helped Buster Keaton to perform precisely at the right time for each take. See more »

Goofs

Elegant Elderly Lady Buster Keaton is wearing long evening gloves, but when she reaches down to pick the lollipop off her lap, she is not wearing gloves. See more »

Quotes

Presenter of "The Mermaids": This young lady can stay under water longer than the bottom of a river.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Fractured Flickers: Episode #1.19 (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A visual delight... perhaps Keaton's Best Short.
2 December 1998 | by (SoCal) – See all my reviews

Drawing from his experience in vaudeville during his youth, The Playhouse is one of Keaton's most autobiographical shorts. Keaton displays his inventive genius for visual effects in a dream sequence by playing the role of all performers in a minstrel show and its audience as well. Each Buster, from drum player to a Grandma Buster, has its own distinctive personality and character. This is truly one of the great sequences of Keaton's career.

Buster is awakened from his dream of grandiose, caught sleeping on the job. In the second part of the short, he plays a stagehand who gets into trouble both on and off the stage. From this point forward the short relies less on technical marvel, but remains equally entertaining. Keaton's facial impressions when dressed up as a monkey are priceless.

As with most Keaton shorts, there are many unique details which enhance the overall film, but are not essential to the plot. Some of the funniest shots in the film don't even involve Buster, specifically two hilarious Civil War veterans in the theater's audience, each with only one arm.

Buster's co-star in The Playhouse is Virginia Fox. She does a charming job in a dual role playing twins. It has been written that in his youth Buster had a fondness for twin performers and was known to pursue both sisters.


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