A love-struck weakling must pretend to be boxer in order to gain respect from the family of the girl he loves.A love-struck weakling must pretend to be boxer in order to gain respect from the family of the girl he loves.A love-struck weakling must pretend to be boxer in order to gain respect from the family of the girl he loves.
Buster is in fine form throughout the film, showing off his athleticism as well as sweet, romantic side. He looks good in a tux, and looks good strutting around in his shorts. Always willing to sacrifice his body for the sake of a scene, he takes quite a bit of abuse and some real punches, some of which look pulled, but others of which do not. The result is a pretty stirring and realistic fight scene. Even getting into the ring for sparring practice involves quite a bit of neck-wrenching agility as he humorously gets tangled up in the ropes. And as an aside, if you look closely when he registers at the hotel you can see his right index finger missing its tip from having been amputated following a childhood accident.
The plot seems pretty straightforward, but I love how it gives us a little twist. It's notable that the fight at the end was devised by Keaton; the stage play ends with the switcharoo, and he thought that would be less than satisfying. He does this sort of thing a lot, knowing what we might expect, and then toying with us before giving us a surprise. An example of this is when he tries to shoot a duck while in his canoe; we know he's going to get wet, but he's masterful at doing so in an unexpected way.
There are several scenes with great composition in the film, the best of which is when the girl is framed perfectly in the small back window of Buster's limo as it drives away. Later we see Buster looking at her again through the crook of his trainer's elbow. Another one is when the valet approaches Buster and the young woman as they sit under an umbrella, and we get a shot from behind the couple. It's a comedy with lots of gags and car stunts/crashes thrown in too which may make this easier to overlook, but Buster Keaton was very talented as a director as well.
The production value is great, and it was interesting to find that it was filmed at the Olympic Auditorium, which still stands in downtown LA (as a church), and which would be used 50 years later in Rocky, and later in Raging Bull. Snitz Edwards is a great comic foil to Keaton, and pretty funny in his own right. Sally O'Neil brings the requisite sweetness to her part, as well as a pretty good arm when she's throwing things at Snitz and Buster early on. I also liked Mary O'Brien, the 'other' Butler's wife too, especially the scene where she flirts with the hotel receptionist. There is a little bit of darkness to the other Butler (Francis McDonald) as he insults his wife and we see he's blackened her eye (off-screen), all of which amplify the emotional response we feel later in Buster's fury.
- Aug 26, 2019