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Three Ages (1923)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,524 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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
The Boy
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:

Buster's first feature-length comedy. (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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There are two references in the Roman section a--one classical and one biblical. The classical reference is to the story of Androcles and the lion (when Buster Keaton is in the dungeon) and the biblical one is to Samson bringing down the temple upon himself and his enemies (when Keaton collapses Wallace Beery's house). 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 »

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User Reviews

 
Taking Risks
29 June 2006 | by See all my reviews

D.W. Griffith could have made any movie he wanted to after the enormous financial success of "The Birth of a Nation"; he chose to make the most technically ambitious film to that date, "Intolerance". He took a risk with such innovations in film montage and form, and the well-known financial train wreck resulted. Buster Keaton doesn't take that kind of a risk with "Three Ages", a parody of "Intolerance". This is Keaton's first feature-length film of his own (he only acted in "The Saphead"). He had the fallback plan of dividing the three episodes in this feature into three separate shorts, which Griffith did do with "Intolerance". Keaton didn't have to. Chaplin had already succeeded with feature-length comedies, so if Keaton was taking a risk here, it was completely calculated.

Chaplin had already done a parody of another film, too, with "Burlesque on Carmen" (1915). Keaton appears to allude to that parody, as well. The wrestling scene in the Ancient Rome episode references the swordfight that turns into a wrestling match in Chaplin's burlesque. The comical distance from the plot of both scenes is the same, too. Furthermore, Chaplin's film imitated the glossy style of DeMille's "Carmen", and Chaplin's film seemed a tribute to that film. Keaton doesn't attempt the radical editing, narrative structure or monumental nature in his parody, but it seems respectful of "Intolerance" nonetheless. At least, the stories aren't told completely straightforward as in other "Intolerance"-inspired works, such as Dreyer's "Leaves from Satan's Book" (Blade af Satans bog, 1921) and Fritz Lang's "Destiny" (Der Müde Tod, 1921). There is some mild jumping back and forth between episodes.

Where Keaton did take risks, however, is in his physical, daredevil comedy. That's Keaton unintentionally failing to jump across buildings in the modern episode. Reportedly, he was convinced to alter the scene rather than attempt the jump again. And, it wasn't just Keaton who took risks; the anachronistic baseball gag, for example, was rather dangerous. Thus, although in a different way, Keaton, like Griffith, took risks with his big film. And, I think they both succeeded.


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