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Three Ages (1923)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 24 September 1923 (USA)
The misadventures of Buster in three separate historical periods.

Directors:

Edward F. Cline (as Eddie Cline), Buster Keaton

Writers:

Clyde Bruckman (story and titles), Joseph A. Mitchell (story and titles) (as Joseph Mitchell) | 1 more credit »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... The Boy
Margaret Leahy Margaret Leahy ... The Girl
Wallace Beery ... The Villain
Joe Roberts ... The Girl's Father
Lillian Lawrence Lillian Lawrence ... The Girl's Mother
Kewpie Morgan ... The Emperor / Cave Man / Roman Thug (as Horace Morgan)
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A cyclone of laughs and thrills. (Newspaper ad). See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

24 September 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die drei Zeitalter See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Buster Keaton Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

In the medium shot of the Stone Age soothsayer scene, Buster's hands are resting together near the side of the turtle. But in the cut to a close-up, we see only a hand double's right hand, and it's directly in front of the turtle's mouth. (It's clearly a hand double, since Keaton was missing his right index finger tip.) See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Fountain (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Taking Risks
29 June 2006 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

D.W. Griffith could have made any movie he wanted to after the enormous financial success of "The Birth of a Nation"; he chose to make the most technically ambitious film to that date, "Intolerance". He took a risk with such innovations in film montage and form, and the well-known financial train wreck resulted. Buster Keaton doesn't take that kind of a risk with "Three Ages", a parody of "Intolerance". This is Keaton's first feature-length film of his own (he only acted in "The Saphead"). He had the fallback plan of dividing the three episodes in this feature into three separate shorts, which Griffith did do with "Intolerance". Keaton didn't have to. Chaplin had already succeeded with feature-length comedies, so if Keaton was taking a risk here, it was completely calculated.

Chaplin had already done a parody of another film, too, with "Burlesque on Carmen" (1915). Keaton appears to allude to that parody, as well. The wrestling scene in the Ancient Rome episode references the swordfight that turns into a wrestling match in Chaplin's burlesque. The comical distance from the plot of both scenes is the same, too. Furthermore, Chaplin's film imitated the glossy style of DeMille's "Carmen", and Chaplin's film seemed a tribute to that film. Keaton doesn't attempt the radical editing, narrative structure or monumental nature in his parody, but it seems respectful of "Intolerance" nonetheless. At least, the stories aren't told completely straightforward as in other "Intolerance"-inspired works, such as Dreyer's "Leaves from Satan's Book" (Blade af Satans bog, 1921) and Fritz Lang's "Destiny" (Der Müde Tod, 1921). There is some mild jumping back and forth between episodes.

Where Keaton did take risks, however, is in his physical, daredevil comedy. That's Keaton unintentionally failing to jump across buildings in the modern episode. Reportedly, he was convinced to alter the scene rather than attempt the jump again. And, it wasn't just Keaton who took risks; the anachronistic baseball gag, for example, was rather dangerous. Thus, although in a different way, Keaton, like Griffith, took risks with his big film. And, I think they both succeeded.


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