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Three Ages (1923)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,574 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 24 critic

The misadventures of Buster in three separate historical periods.

Directors:

(as Eddie Cline) ,

Writers:

(story), (story) (as Joseph Mitchell) , 2 more credits »
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Title: Three Ages (1923)

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Starting in 1913 movie director Connors discovers singer Molly Adair. As she becomes a star she marries an actor, so Connors fires them. She asks for him as director of her next film. Many silent stars shown making the transition to sound.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Margaret Leahy ...
The Girl
...
The Villain
Joe Roberts ...
The Girl's Father
Lillian Lawrence ...
The Girl's Mother
Kewpie Morgan ...
The Emperor / Cave Man / Roman Thug (as Horace Morgan)
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Storyline

In his first independently produced feature film Buster tells of love and romance through three historical ages: the Stone Age, the Roman Age, and the Modern Age. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A cyclone of laughs and thrills. (Newspaper ad). See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

24 September 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die drei Zeitalter  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The most famous stunt in the movie was actually built around what went wrong with the original stunt. Buster Keaton intended to leap from a board projecting from one building onto the roof of another building, but he fell short, smashing into the brick wall and falling into a net off-screen. He was injured badly enough to be laid up for three days. However, when he saw the film (the camera operators were instructed to always keep filming, no matter what happened), he not only kept the mishap, he built on it, adding the fall through three awnings, the loose downspout that propels him into the firehouse and the slide down the fire pole. See more »

Goofs

As Buster is driving to Margaret's house, his porkpie hat is battered. But when he arrives, it's fresh and undamaged, and looks brand-new. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Princess and the Cobbler (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Not one of Buster's Best
24 July 2009 | by (www.moviemoviesite.com) – See all my reviews

For me, Keaton's decision to make a parody of Griffith's Intolerance so that if the feature (his first) failed he could re-edit and release it as three two-reelers is what diminishes the enjoyment for me. The film jumps back and forth between the three time periods, and so all of them seem to be over before they've really begun, and the film has something of a disjointed feel. Perhaps this is because the film does actually feel as if it is three two-reelers spliced together rather than an actual feature.

The comedy is unevenly paced, but when it hits the mark it is near-perfect. Highlights include Keaton's drunken encounter with Wallace Beery, other diners, and a crab at a restaurant, and the jaw-dropping leap from one roof to another at what looks like hundreds of feet above the ground (apparently the buildings were short sets placed on a bridge overlooking a view of Los Angeles. Just as well, because Keaton failed to make the leap successfully and fell from the second building, a real-life mishap that remains in the film). Keaton slides through a window, across a room, down a pole (at this point we realise he is in a fire station although he doesn't) and lands on the back of a fire engine that returns him to the police station from which he has just escaped. The whole sequence is both side-splitting and astounding. The look on Keaton's face as he looks quizzically up at the pole he has just descended is priceless. Perhaps because of his status as a comic genius we tend to forget how good an actor Keaton was .

I liked the modern sequence best, and had it been released as a short I believe it would be considered one of his classics. The caveman sequence is OK, but the Roman era story tends to drag.

It's been well publicised that this was competition winner Margaret Leahy's only film because she was so untalented as an actress, and it's true she doesn't light any fires while on-screen. But the impact of her ineptitude in front of the camera is cleverly avoided by the likes of Keaton and Beery merely acting around her as if she were just another prop.

Overall, this isn't one of Keaton's best - although that is probably because this is his first feature. Keaton himself thought it was just OK and, given his instinctive sense for what works, perhaps that should tell us all we need to know...


2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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