Joe, inventor in an American Small town of 1895 has problems with his new invention, a car, driven with a gasoline motor. Everybody is making fun about his "crazy invention", only his girl ... See full summary »
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.
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
The water level in Buster's carafe fluctuates. He nearly drains it, then in the next shot, it's half full. See more »
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...
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