A twenty-minute, almost totally silent film (no dialogue or music one 'shhh!') in which Buster Keaton attempts to evade observation by an all-seeing eye. But, as the film is based around ... See full summary »
In May 1943, two American soldiers, Joe and Frank, of Italian descent are searching the North African desert for a German general called Von Kassler, when they are captured by Von Kassler ... See full summary »
An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.
Easily admired out-of-context by any Buster Keaton fan
Because "The Scribe" is an instructional film, it doesn't develop a traditional plot. Keaton depicts an amateur newspaper reporter who finds a list of safety rules while snooping at a construction site. He runs amok trying to bring safety problems to the attention of construction workers, often precipitating disasters instead of preventing them. Because it's instructive, the pace is sometimes slow, but the film quickly establishes a pattern for delivering unexpected punch lines, thereby demanding the viewer's attention. And when there's action, the film really moves.
Though seventy years old, Keaton darts about at a frenetic pace reminiscent of his early years, and still engages in hair-raising stunts. But while he moves as quickly as ever, Keaton performs stunts that rely on his skill and timing, not physical strength. Instead of leaping chasms and climbing flagpoles, Keaton here plummets through a floor and gets bodily hoisted by a crane. It's still white-knuckle stuff, but distinctly less intense than Keaton's younger years.
Keaton's signature gags and style emerge throughout, and they enhance the film's instruction. For example, Keaton shoves a heavy tool box behind some equipment so nobody will trip over it. In a classic Keaton-style double-cross, someone instantly trips over the tool box in its new location! The gag is perfectly timed and perfectly executed, and it enhances the instructional value by candidly demonstrating that Keaton's careless "safety measure" was inadequate.
Due to its instructional format "The Scribe" is unlikely to satisfy a casual viewer, but it will certainly fascinate a Buster Keaton fan. To the best of my knowledge it isn't available on video, though you might find it on 16mm film at a public library.
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