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When a magician, Mordini (Lynton Brent) becomes fearful of his magic secrets being stolen, he hires Buster (Buster Keaton) and Elsie (Elsie Anes) to protect his props. They discover what they assume to be a murder and go into action as amateur detectives, without realizing they are the victims of one of the magician's tricks. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This is one of 10 films that are included in the two DVD set "The Buster Keaton Collection". It's a sad set of films Keaton did later in his career with Columbia Pictures and the films bore more resemblance to Three Stooges films than Keaton's classic silents. Of the 10, eight were directed by Jules White--a man who had absolutely no understanding or appreciation of Keaton's subtle humor. As a lady said in the documentary included with the set ("Buster Keaton: From Silents to Shorts"), White's idea of funny was dropping anvils on people's heads! His totally unsubtle and dopey humor made all the films he directed with Keaton a chore to watch at times--especially with the silly Stooge sound effects and timing. In addition, this film also co-starred Keaton with Elsie Ames--a completely obnoxious and untalented lady in every film she did with Keaton. Her overly exaggerated facial expressions, mannerisms and yelling made Patsy Kelly look subtle in her shorts for Hal Roach!! So already from the start, Keaton had two major disadvantages in the film, so you certainly cannot expect magic.
This film is sort of like a haunted house comedy, but this time the house is more like a carnival fun house. It's owned by a magician who hired Keaton and Ames to watch the house and protect his tricks from theft by his competitors. They are clearly told to guard the house and let no one in, so only moments after the magician leaves, they invite a couple inside. While it turns out the couple are harmless, two thieves enter the house and use a variety of tricks built into the house to scare everyone. None are all that funny and the film is pretty dull, but there is a cute penguin in the film as well, so I'll at least give it a point for the bird! Overall, a pretty dull time-passer with a very weak ending.
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