Botany major Buster mistakenly graduates in electrical engineering and is hired to wire a new home. He installs lots of fanciful gadgets. The one who should have received the degree gets even by rewiring all the gadgets to wreak havoc. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Filming was delayed when star Buster Keaton got his foot caught in the escalator and broke his ankle. During his recovery, Keaton released his previously shelved film, The 'High Sign' (1921), and filmed The Play House (1921). Upon his return to this short, he abandoned his original footage and started fresh. Little is known about the first version, and no scenes are known to still exist. See more »
What makes The Electric House such a must-see Keaton short is curiously not the showcasing of the great man himself but that of the technical prowess of his technical director Fred Gabourie. Gabourie had built The Boat and worked with Keaton since 1920's One Week, which was the one with the ingenious portable house, and he would progress with Keaton from the shorts to the features. But never were the technical gadgets Keaton used and Gabourie had to make work practically better displayed than in The Electric House. Keaton really lets Gabourie's gadgets take centre stage here and it is a chance to marvel at a master at work.
In a strange way it's almost too brilliant because the laughs don't really play as well. Whereas in One Week or The Boat the gadgets and physical comedy worked in perfect harmony in The Electric House Keaton lets the film get a bit bogged down in watching the gadgets at work.
Nevertheless in these days of CGI and visual cheats it is stunning to see these practical effects in full flow. Gabourie was clearly a genius, one whose name deserves to be held in the same light as practical effects masters like Willis O'Brien, Ray Harryhausen and Stan Winston.
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