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Spite Marriage (1929)

Passed | | Comedy | 6 April 1929 (USA)
An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.


Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton (uncredited)


Lew Lipton (story by), Ernest Pagano (adaptation) (as Ernest S. Pagano) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... Elmer Edgemont
Dorothy Sebastian ... Trilby Drew
Edward Earle ... Lionel Benmore
Leila Hyams ... Ethyl Norcrosse
William Bechtel ... Frederick Nussbaum
Jack Byron Jack Byron ... Giovanni Scarzi (as John Byron)


Elmer is a dry cleaner. He is madly in love with stage star Trilby Drew; for each of her 35 performances, he dons someone else's tuxedo and races to the theatre. When Trilby's co-star boyfriend gets engaged to a socialite, she marries Elmer to get even, assuming Elmer is a millionaire (since his clothes are so snazzy.) But she's clearly still in love with her scoundrelous co-star, and her manager makes her leave Elmer, trying to pay him off so the papers don't hear about her marriage to a "cheap pants presser." Can Elmer win her love? Maybe a sea voyage will help. Written by <bletzler@lan.tjhsst.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Scream of the Screen-Buster in a Matrimonial Maelstrom- Buster's Adventure in Married Bliss. (Print Ad- Auckland Star,((Auckland, NZ)) 7 September 1929) See more »




Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The scene in which Buster Keaton puts his inebriated bride to bed was later performed on stage by Keaton and his third wife Eleanor Keaton. It is also re-enacted in The Buster Keaton Story (1957). See more »


In the dressing-room scene while attempting to trim the hair for his false beard, Elmer accidentally severs the left-hand shoulder strap of his vest and has no time to repair it. When we see him hurriedly changing back into his smart clothes after the performance, both straps are still whole. See more »


Title Card: There are only two cures for love... marriage and suicide.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Rather than appear at the beginning, the MGM roaring lion opening appears after the conclusion of the film, but just before "The End" title, which immediately follows it. See more »


Referenced in Nothing But Pleasure (1940) See more »


I'd Rather Be Blue Over You
Music by Fred Fisher
Lyrics by Billy Rose
Played as background music at the cafe
See more »

User Reviews

Buster's last silent
23 January 2019 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

After talking pictures came out, there was a brief experiment with sound, which would logically make sense, but to illogical movie audiences didn't catch on. There are a few movies out there that attempted to ease audiences into talking pictures by creating a silent movie with sound effects, like applause, laughter, crashes, honking horns, etc. The change from silents to talkies was overwhelming, and audiences wanted it all! Why am I giving you this history lesson? Because Spite Marriage, Buster Keaton's last silent film, was a silent picture with sound.

In this one, he plays a hapless Romeo, devoted to stage actress Dorothy Sebastian. He sees her every performance and brings her bouquets of roses. The only trouble is Dorothy's in love with her costar; but when he marries someone else, she gets even by marrying Buster out of spite. The story jumps around quite a bit, so you might think you're seeing three movies in one. The first part of the film takes place in the theater, in the second part, Buster falls in with a crowd of gangsters, and in the final third, Buster and Dorothy are the only survivors on a sinking ship. While it might seem random, you won't have time to question it because you'll be mesmerized by Buster's incredible stunt work. He hangs from a rope on the mast, repeatedly gets thrown overboard only to catch himself on the boom and leap back on deck, and even falls into the sail and has to pull himself back up. Dorothy is a real trouper, participating in many of his stunts and gags, including the famous bedroom skit, recreated later by Buster and his wife onstage and by Donald O'Connor and Ann Blythe in The Buster Keaton Story. This movie feels like a very fond farewell to Buster Keaton's silent pictures, with all the elements of his famous films thrown together: a lovesick hero, dangerous stunts, funny gags, and a ship. Really the only thing missing is a train, but you can find one in almost every other of his movies.

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None | English

Release Date:

6 April 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die unvollkommene Ehe See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Silent (musical score and sound effects)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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