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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Wow, A 'Shock' To See All The Electric Gadgets

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
1 September 2006

It's funny; the other day I watched Buster Keaton's "College," which starts off with a high school graduation. My next Keaton movie, this one, begins with a college ceremony. Yes, once again, the graduates look more like their fathers than 22- year-old people.

The degrees get mixed up somehow and the Dean thinks Buster has graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree and hires him to wire his house while he and the family go on vacation. Buster knows nothing about that sort of thing but reads a quick how-to-do-it book. The next thing we know, we see the house with all the gadgets.

This was pretty amazing stuff. I didn't think they even had the technology in the early '20s to do this sort of thing. Shows you what I know. Anyway, we see all kinds of James Bond-type tricks from swimming pools that drain and refill within seconds to mechanical billiard tables to train tracks feeding the family. There too many of these crazy things (a bathroom on tracks going right to the bed was one of my favorites!) to list them all.

Suffice to say they are fun to watch. Unfortunately, the real engineer gets wind of what happened, sneaks into the house and sabotages the gadgets while the family is showing them off to guests. Unfortunately (again), justice is not served in this film....or is it? There's a strange ending to this film, too, and makes me wonder if Buster wasn't a bit suicidal. I guess not, since he lived a fairly long time.

There is no real plot in here; just gags....which is fine for a short film, except I found this was so fast-paced in the first half that by the 15-minute mark it seemed almost too long, if that's possible. It seemed like a long 22 minutes.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Very clever Keaton short - a cornucopia of gadget gags

Author: ( from Putney, VT
21 April 2005

This is one of Keaton's very best shorts - as he did in the brilliant opening section of THE SCARECROW two years earlier, he has fitted a house with an array of wonderful gadgets, but now he has a mansion to work in. There's an escalator with a mind of its own, a delivery toy train that serves meals on tracks extending from the kitchen directly to the dining room table, there's a tub on tracks that comes right to one's bedside. And that pool table!!!! As so often pops up in Keaton shorts, the clothes make the man and his identity. Here it's switched diplomas that start a botanist off in a job as an electrical engineer - and amazingly he is very adept at designing an entire electric house. When the real engineer shows up for revenge and starts switching the wires, bedlam occurs.

Kino's print is well worn but sharp and clear. Musical accompaniment is a piano/violin score. There are numerous drop outs but since this is an early film, we are never sure whether the original editing was a bit shabby or that we have lost frames from the film.

This is one of the most enjoyable of all of Keaton's shorts. Highly recommended.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not his funniest, but technically astounding

Author: motta80-2 from London, England
24 March 2009

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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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Gadgets Galore & Lots of Fun

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
20 August 2001

A lot of Keaton's comedies feature a scene or two filled with creative and wacky gadgets that make you laugh and make you marvel at his inventiveness, all at the same time. This short comedy is entirely devoted to this kind of eccentric gadgetry, and while that means there isn't much of a plot, it's fun to watch. There's a subtle, funny mix-up at the beginning that results in Buster being entrusted with filling up a man's house with whatever electronic devices he can think of, and he really goes to it. "The Electric House" is a funny place to visit.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"And as it turns out, electrical engineering happened to be quite a talent of his."

Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
3 March 2006

A wonderfully inventive companion piece to The Scarecrow, this mechanical comedy by Keaton often makes me wonder if it isn't possible to go back in time and hire Keaton to design a house for me.

Due to a mix-up of diplomas, the young hair-stylist character of Keaton is asked to wire a mansion with electricity. Spending a moment with a book on "Wiring Made Easy" and the mansion owner's vacation time, Keaton devises escalators, train-propelled dishwashers, and all the neat little gadgets and tricks that "surprise" them (whether or not any of these flourishes are needed, of course, adds its own amount of humor to the equation).

Of course it's not like we can have everything just go well like that, so the rejected and jealous actual electrical engineer decides one fateful day to wreak vengeance upon the circuitry. It's then a trip of mayhap and mayhem as the hosting family tries to entertain guests, Keaton tries to figure out what's wrong, and bodies, dishes, and pool balls go flying amiss.

The appealing result is a good chuckle. It's definitely not as amazingly inventive as The Scarecrow (which is absolutely mind-boggling in its mechanical genius), but it does the job and does it well. It also doesn't really end the way you come to expect of Keaton. All in all, however, it's a pretty good time.


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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I wish that Buster Keaton had engineered my house

Author: ackstasis from Australia
19 November 2007

In addition to the remarkable stunt-work that makes his films unique, Buster Keaton often employed the odd mechanical gadget, and there's certainly much amusement to be found in his technical creativity. 'The Electric House' is a 20-minute short film that dedicates itself entirely to Keaton's gadgets, as a young botany graduate is mistakenly hired as an electrical engineer to wire up a new home. After perusing a book entitled "Electricity Made Easy," Keaton develops a selection of clever and useful household contraptions, including an escalator, a railway system that delivers food to the dinner table, a quick-emptying and re-filling outdoor pool and a self-operating billiards table. Some of the mechanical devices don't quite work as planned, but generally Keaton has done a fair job, and he has certainly invented a few mechanisms that I wouldn't mind having in my own home (assuming, of course, that they operated as they were supposed to).

However, the begrudging electrical engineering graduate who missed out on the job arrives at the new electric house to wreak havoc and achieve his revenge. From the moment he starts moving about wires, the contraptions inside the home begin to go crazy, and poor Keaton is completely at their mercy, unable to understand why his inventions have gone haywire. Of course, there are a few gags that don't quite work {such as Keaton thinking he's seen a ghost}, and the editing is a little choppy at times, but it's all in such good fun that you won't feel disappointed. A lot of amusement is derived from something as simple as an escalator {which was then a relatively new invention, only 25 years or so years old}, with Keaton, in one particularly funny sequence, trying to haul a bulky suitcase up the "stairs" and bafflingly wondering why he's making such little progress.

As the hapless hero, Keaton takes his fair share of beatings from the mechanical devices {in fact, production had to be delayed because he broke his ankle after it got caught in the escalator}, but the other members of the household don't escape unscathed. Joe Roberts plays the disgruntled homeowner whose house is equipped with mischievous gadgetry, and he gets acquainted with the property's swimming pool on at least two entertaining occasions. Though Keaton has certainly done funnier comedic shorts, 'The Electric House (1922)' is an amusing way to pass 20 minutes, and the star's undeniable enthusiasm for slapstick comedy makes his work always worth a watch.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Keaton scores again with another gadget-filled comedy

Author: calvinnme from United States
4 July 2010

Graduation day at P.U. finds Buster Keaton's character graduating with a degree in botany. He is seated next to a girl graduating with a degree in cosmetology and a man with a degree in electrical engineering. The dean (Big Joe Roberts) asks for someone to take on the job of wiring his house for electricity while he is away on vacation. Just prior to this the diplomas get scrambled and Keaton winds up with the engineering one. Thus, the job winds up going to him. The dean drives away from his home with Keaton sitting at the curb diligently reading "Electricity Made Easy". When the dean returns Keaton has wired the house in only a way that Buster could devise making heavy use of automated trains - Keaton's favorite prop. The plot is complicated when the guy with the actual engineering degree shows up at the dean's house in search of revenge.

Buster always said that if he hadn't been a comedian he would have liked to have been an engineer, and shorts like this one show he had a real talent for both. Highly recommended.

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Keaton the engineer

Author: MissSimonetta from United States
3 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Electric House (1922) is often not considered one of Buster Keaton's better short format efforts, and the most you'll ever hear about it is how he broke his ankle during shooting. It's a shame, because I think there's a lot more to it. We may not see much in the way of Buster's physicality and grace, but we do get to see his imagination at play with the multiple contraption his character concocts for the wealthy man who hires him to modernize his mansion.

The escalator stairs, dining room train set, and book shelf of doom are all charming, and its fun to see Buster's creative methods go so fabulously wrong. I'm sure you could write a paper on potential social commentary on man's over-reliance on technology, but even without all that, this is great fun and worth more praise than it receives.

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Not among his most electrifying

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
2 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a 1922 movie which also runs for roughly 22 minutes. Buster was in his mid-20s here and this was already at the end of his silent short film career. Once again he collaborated with Eddie Cline and was director, writer and lead actor. The supporting actors are Joe are Virginia Fox and Joe Roberts. These two worked with Leaton on several occasions as well. just like these several family members that Keaton cast in very minor roles.

Our hero is instructed to install new electrical equipment in a millionaire's house while he isn't on holidays. When he returns, everything is ready, but basically nothing is working properly. Almost all the jokes here deal with malfunctions of mechanical applications, such as a swimming pool, an escalator, a model railway etc. But it wasn't really funny and some of it also became a bit repetitive such as the escalator scenes. The only really funny moment I thought was at the end when the millionaire's daughter lets out the water and the millionaire is so angry that he lets it in again. Oh yeah.. the daughter in here delivers the romance aspect, but it's almost non-existent in this film compared to other silent classics. The (attempted) suicide scene is a fine example of what Keaton made different from other silent film stars. There is always some real tragedy to his characters, even if it's still somewhat funny. It's good. It fits his physical appearance I would say. All in all, however, I would not recommend watching this one. Not one of Stoneface's finest.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

No Keaton magic

Author: rbverhoef ( from The Hague, Netherlands
21 February 2007

The Buster Keaton short 'The Electric House' is fun to watch, does not bore, but misses the most important element to make a Buster Keaton short brilliant. The thing I mean is his physical magic, displayed in almost all of his short film, almost completely missing here.

As a fake electric engineer Keaton installs electricity in the house of rich man while he is on vacation. Once the man is back Keaton shows him a lot of electrical surprises. There is an electric snooker table, a train that delivers food, a pool able the empty itself and a lot of other stuff. Of course things do not go as they should, especially when the real electrical engineer arrives.

The problem here is the electricity, almost making a statement: electricity makes men useless. The fun in 'The Electric House' comes from the machines, how they work and at times how they fail to work. This leaves little room for Keaton to show what he does best. It is fun alright, but not much more.

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