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This is a costume-period piece set in 1830s Kentucky. The Canfields and the McKays are feuding clans (essentially the real life Hatfields and McCoys renamed). In New York Willie boards a train (an exact recreation of the original "Stephenson Rocket"); on board he meets Virginia Canfield (the actress is Buster's real life wife). The dramatic waterfall rescue near the end is performed by Buster himself. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The earliest comedy included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider. See more »
When the donkey refuses to move from the rail tracks, the engineer and others curve the tracks around him. The long shot that shows the train moving past the donkey, however, shows the tracks back in a straight line. See more »
This fine film represents one of the earlier attempts at "dramedy", long before the term was invented. The story has a highly realistic feel to it, yet the funny stuff is never far away.
The film does start a bit slowly as they set up the story, but things pick up quickly once the funny (but true, from an old photo) shot of 1810 Times Square hits the screen.
The little train which takes Buster to Kentucky is a hoot, and THAT is based on the real 1830's deal, too. Movable, bumpy, flimsy tracks and a couple nutty characters and situations are highlights.
My favorite bit in the whole film, though, is when poor Buster realizes the fabulous mansion he thought he was inheriting turned out to be a broken-down shack, ending his dreams in spectacularly explosive fashion.
The story was strong and believable, and the climactic (and very dangerous) scenes at the river and waterfall were amazing. As a matter of fact, these scenes are so impressive, it's easy to forget that they are funny; this is the only reason for me to not give the movie a 10.
Side note to those who have said the poor soundtrack detracted from the film: If you EVER have the opportunity to see this or other silent movies in their proper environment (A glorious movie palace with live musical accompaniment by theatre organ or an orchestra), DO it! The "half-live, half-canned" aspect is very important to the enjoyment of silents. It also keeps any film you've seen many times (as is often the case with "The General" or "Phantom") fresh. Even the same organist doesn't play the same film the same way every time, and a different organist can accompany the film in such a different way that it can almost fool you into thinking you're seeing a new movie.
I'm one of those lucky enough to have done so and there's nothing quite like it.
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