The film was restored in 2015 through Lobster Films, a process partially funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. See more »
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 »
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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Michael Keaton's real name is Michael Douglas, but for obvious reasons he had to change it. He selected "Keaton" as a tribute to the most inventive physical comedian in the history of cinema, Buster Keaton.
In 1996, Michael Keaton starred as multiple copies of the same character in the film "Multiplicity". I suspect he knew his namesake had beaten him to the punchline some 75 years earlier.
In "The Play House", Keaton used carefully timed multiple takes and repeated exposures to have as many as 9 copies of himself in the same picture at the same time. Keaton is simultaneously the conductor, six musicians, 9 members of a chorus line and at least 5 members of the audience. It takes away nothing to note that this is all a dream sequence.
But the segue from the dream sequence to the main story contains one of the most brilliant twists I've ever seen in a film of any era. Buster is awakened from his slumber by a cruel looking man who orders him out of his room. In the background, the "landlord's" aides take away the furniture from Buster's "apartment", then his bed, and then remarkably the very walls of the room! We back up to find that this is not Buster's home - he has fallen asleep on a bedroom set of a stage.
Buster is a worker at a variety show, and most of the rest of the film has him replacing everything from a soldier to a magician's assistant to an orangutan, with frequently hilarious results.
Buster Keaton's "The Play House" is that rare silent comedy that stands the test of time. While much of Chaplin, Lloyd or the Keystone Kops output seems juvenile, coy, silly or just plain unfunny, Buster Keaton's work still can cause you to laugh out loud.
During the dream sequence, on one title card an audience member (Keaton) reads the playbill and notes "This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show." Yes, but what a show!
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