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Three Ages (1923)

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


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


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




Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... The Boy
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)


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


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




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This was the first film to use the landmark Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as a location. The future home of two Olympics (1932, 1984) was opened the year of the film's release, 1923. The stadium's east portico acts as backdrop to the Ancient Roman home of Buster Keaton's girlfriend. See more »


The water level in Buster's carafe fluctuates. He nearly drains it, then in the next shot, it's half full. See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1995, Film Preservation Associates copyrighted a version with an orchestral score; no details were specified on the print. See more »


Referenced in The Fountain (2006) See more »

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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Release Date:

24 September 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Ages See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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