Portraying more than twenty characters at once--including lively stage actors, an attentive audience, an orchestra, and an entire nine-member minstrel act--Buster Keaton pushes the boundaries of technical artistry and film trickery, in a time when effects really were special. With this in mind--after waking up from a delightful vaudeville dream sequence--Buster realises that he still is the play house's humble general factotum, and he must keep the show up and running amid delusion and disorder, identical twin sisters, Zouave guards, and a rampant orangutan on the loose. But, can a mere gopher yearn for recognition, and perhaps, love?Written by
The multiple Busters on screen together were created in the camera, using a special lens with shutters to film only a portion of the scene at a time. Buster would perform one part, then the cameraman would crank the film back and open another shutter to film another part. A banjo player with a metronome helped Buster Keaton to perform precisely at the right time for each take. See more »
Sometimes the background is visible through the elbow of Male Audience Member Buster, revealing the double-exposure technique used to film two Buster Keatons sitting side by side. See more »
Presenter of "The Mermaids":
This young lady can stay under water longer than the bottom of a river.
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A special 16mm edition was made available in 2002 which restores the film's original title cards, corrects a sequence error within the "monkey scene" and sports a new synchronized music track by The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra. See more »
This is an unusual and extremely creative short comedy that shows off both Keaton's technical and comic skills, and it's loaded with clever visual details. Keaton's main character in this one is a stage hand, but he plays 20 or more different roles, most of them in the fascinating and bizarre opening sequence. The craftsmanship is perfect - even when several images of Keaton appear in one shot - and when you realize what the sequence represents, it's very suggestive as well. The main part of the film moves a little more slowly, but has some good laughs in it. There is a nice recurring joke about Keaton's girl - she is one of a pair of twins, and Keaton can never keep them straight. While Keaton made other films that are more uproariously funny, "The Playhouse" is a gem of inventiveness, and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys silent films.
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