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 <email@example.com>
In this short Buster Keaton took credit for every part and job, including editor, director, writer, cameraman etc. This was a reference to 'Thomas Ince''s (the "inventor" of the Western) reputation for doing this. See more »
Sometimes the background is visible through the elbow of Male Audience Member Buster, revealing the double-exposure technique used to film two Busters sitting side by side. See more »
Mr. Brown, I understand you had a cyclone in your town.
Mr. Brown /First Minstrel:
Yes, sir, the wind blew so hard it blew a silver dollar into four quarters.
That nothing. The wind blew so hard it blew a wart off a man's nose and broke a window two blocks away.
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This is an unusual and extremely creative short comedy that shows off both Keaton's technical and comic skills, and it's loaded with clever visual details. Keaton's main character in this one is a stage hand, but he plays 20 or more different roles, most of them in the fascinating and bizarre opening sequence. The craftsmanship is perfect - even when several images of Keaton appear in one shot - and when you realize what the sequence represents, it's very suggestive as well. The main part of the film moves a little more slowly, but has some good laughs in it. There is a nice recurring joke about Keaton's girl - she is one of a pair of twins, and Keaton can never keep them straight. While Keaton made other films that are more uproariously funny, "The Playhouse" is a gem of inventiveness, and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys silent films.
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