Underappreciated Keaton Comedy
Loosely intended as a satire of D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, The Three Ages was Buster Keaton's first attempt at a full length comedy feature. The only similarities to Intolerance are the opening "book" scene and the fact that similar stories through the ages are edited together into a complete film. Keaton's reasoning for appropriating this style was that if it didn't succeed as a feature film, it could be reduced to three two-reelers. Fortunately, The Three Ages succeeds brilliantly as a comedy and contains some of the funniest routines I've seen in any of Keaton's film. There is nothing unique or daring about the story lines. They are simple boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl plots, but the period satires are riotous and set the standard for future works by Mel Brooks and all films of this genre. However, I don't believe that anyone has ever topped this comedy. No one can play the lovable goof like Keaton and the stunts in this film are some of his best. In addition, Wallace Beery's appearance as Keaton's rival adds to this film's appeal. Anyone who thinks that comedy from the 1920's cannot be appreciated by modern audiences needs to see this movie.
- May 18, 2000
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