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 »
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 »
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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