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The Play House (1921)

G  |   |  Short, Comedy, Fantasy  |  6 October 1921 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,437 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 14 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)

Writers:

(as 'Buster' Keaton) , (as Eddie Cline)
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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

Buster Keaton used a hand double in the shot where he writes, to avoid showing his right hand with the missing index fingertip. See more »

Goofs

Sometimes the background is visible through the elbow of Male Audience Member Buster, revealing the double-exposure technique used to film two Buster Keatons sitting side by side. See more »

Quotes

Interactor: 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.
Second Minstrel: That nothing. The wind blew so hard it blew a wart off a man's nose and broke a window two blocks away.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in An American in Paris (1951) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant editing makes this Buster's most cinematic short
28 June 2005 | by (Putney, VT) – See all my reviews

During the first five minutes of this short, we see Buster assume over two dozen characters (including three pairs of audience members, conductor, six orchestra members, a stage technician and an astonishing nine minstrels all in a row.) He also manages to dance with himself on stage. The multiple exposures had to take place within the camera - accurately masking off sections of the film, then re-running it to expose parts while those already filmed are covered. Special effects had not come to the labs as yet. This brilliant knowledge of film and film editing shows why he is the greatest of all silent film comedians

  • he understood the craft and the art of film making.




The remainder of the film does not live up to those first five minutes. Buster pursues twins (actually the same girl-again making use of multiple exposures). There is a great impersonation of a monkey but other than that not much to amuse us. The pair of war veterans, each with one arm, clapping their remaining hands together when both liking something comes a cropper when one refuses to lend his hand to an act he doesn't care for. Other than these two inspired bits, the rest of the film is not inspired. It moves very fast and is amusing. Those first five minutes, though, and the edited screen sequence in SHERLOCK JR. are Keaton's greatest moments on film.

Kino's print is crisp and clear, using violin, piano, drum, flute accompaniment. A must-see.


3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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