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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 Keaton to perform precisely at the right time for each take. See more »
Elegant Elderly Lady Buster is wearing long evening gloves, but when she reaches down to pick the lollipop off her lap, she is not wearing gloves. See more »
Presenter of "The Mermaids":
This young lady can stay under water longer than the bottom of a river.
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For some odd reason, I find the Buster Keaton features such as "the General" and "Steamboat Bill Jr." to be well-made, yet lacking in the explosive laughter I would expect. His short films however, pack a punch with comedy. "The Playhouse" is his best work ever - a showcase of his versatility and unparalleled comedic techniques. Any musician watching his clarinet technique (gnawing on the mouthpiece) can't help but hit the floor when they watch the opening orchestra scene. Likewise, the variety of audience members he plays, this is amazing. I can't help but wonder... how long (given makeup and costumes) did this one scene take to film? There are also more Warner Brothers cartoon foreshadowing in this than most other films I've seen. For a true short film masterpiece, see this film.
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