After becoming infatuated with a pretty office worker for MGM Newsreels, Buster trades in his tintype operation for a movie camera and sets out to impress the girl (and MGM) with his work. Written by
The scene in which Buster Keaton runs up and down the stairs of his rooming house when he's expecting Marceline Day's phone call was shot with an elevator crane. Though the German film The Last Laugh (1924) had used an elevator crane, this film was the first comedy to use it. In 1960, Jerry Lewis used an elevator crane in The Errand Boy (1961), and some writers have erroneously credited him with being the first comedian to use one. See more »
Has anyone else ever wondered why an office in New York City would have a Union Pacific RR calendar on the wall? This placement has always seemed odd to me.
The Union Pacific, which was headquartered in Omaha, did not operate east of Chicago at the time. See more »
[advice to the aspiring cameraman]
You must always grind forward... never backward.
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Keaton's first film for MGM retains many of the best qualities of his earlier works
Seeing THE CAMERAMAN for the first time in pristine condition (thanks to TCM) and with a wonderful musical score to keep the pace going for the audience members not used to a steady diet of silent films, I was quite surprised. While THE CAMERAMAN does not really feature any incredible or death-defying stunts, there are a number of set pieces that provide exciting humor (the staircase sequence, for instance), and also some hilarious situations such as when he loses his bathing suit at the "municipal plunge" or when he has to protect his camera from the attackers during the tong war. Thankfully, MGM had not yet put Keaton in films that did not fit his established persona (SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK) or that did not take advantage of his particular comic gifts (FREE AND EASY). Keaton is wonderful throughout, charismatic, sympathetic, agile. Marceline Day is a charming female lead and actually makes a three-dimensional character out of what could have been a superficial role in other hands. She continued working into the sound era until the mid-30s, but wound up in poverty-row features (see my review of SUNNY SKIES, where she is teamed with Rex Lease and Benny Rubin), many of which I've really enjoyed over the years (MYSTERY TRAIN with Hedda Hopper, the pioneering women-in-war film FORGOTTEN WOMEN/THE MAD PARADE, the VD classic DAMAGED LIVES, the outrageous camp classic THE FLAMING SIGNAL with Noah Beery, Henry B. Walthall, and Flash the dog, and the superb urban melodrama BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. The multi-talented Harry Gribbon, who began working for Mack Sennett in the teens, is well-used as the omnipresent cop who happens to be wherever Buster is doing something that looks fishy out of its proper context. I've been watching some of his sound comedy shorts recently such as RURAL ROMEOS and BIG HEATED, and he was superb as an arrogant bluffer, was a master of mugging and physical comedy, and even sang well in ROMEOS. Overall, THE CAMERAMAN is well worth watching and shows that initially Keaton was able to work well within MGM's system. Things began to slip with his next MGM feature, SPITE MARRIAGE, although many of the MGM features have something worthwhile in them (see my review of WHAT NO BEER, his last, and often considered his worst). With the recent attention given to the MGM films, I think I'll watch some of them again. From my memories of watching them about a decade ago, I remember DOUGHBOYS as being the least funny and most labored.
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