This is my own entry for the Eighth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon. I hope you enjoy!
When Buster Keaton went through the transition from silents to talkies, as all fans know it wasn’t smooth–he was talked into giving up his studio and moving to the fancy megastudio MGM, and basically had to adapt to being treated as an actor, not a filmmaker. His personal battles behind the scenes with alcoholism and his failing marriage are also well known to fans, and it’s safe to say that all of the above can…color our opinions of his MGM films (to put it mildly). Of the nine features Buster starred in from 1928-1933, the seven talkies in particular are often dismissed as inept embarrassments for someone who made so many silent classics.
So I guess this is my segue into saying: I’m now going to give mini reviews of all his MGMs!
To be clear, I’m going to examine some of the differences between the MGMs and his independent films but I’m also going to try to review them more objectively. Too often we Buster fans seek out the MGMs just to scrutinize every frame for evidence of inferiority to his silent pictures, gawking at the sad beatdown of our creative genius and basically wallowing in whatever misery we feel we can detect onscreen–not really watching them just as movies. This mindset’s hard to escape, it’s true, but it doesn’t hurt to look at the MGMs for what they were–popular films that were pretty similar to other popular films from the time.
Part of the problem with analyzing the MGMs is that unless you’re a hardcore old movie buff you’ve probably seen only the cream of the early ’30s film crop, classics like It Happened One Night, Duck Soup or Public Enemy. Look, a lot of early ’30s films seem awkward today, mainly because it took awhile to adjust from the fluid perfection of late ’20s silents to sound and normal speeds. And even once they did adjust (relatively quickly), many ’30s films can seem oddly paced. The lack of soundtracks and primitive sound equipment can lead to stretches of silence and startling sound effects–most noticeable in comedies where gags that had beautiful, cartoonish energy in undercranked silents seem noticeably slower. Studios often insisted on awkwardly shoehorning in musical numbers, wanting to give audiences their talkie money’s worth. And the dialogue, which actors tried to deliver loudly and clearly for the microphones, can sound pretty clunky.
Plus, times have changed. Certain film trope trends have long been forgotten, and some stories that seem unique to us today were actually considered dull and overplayed back then. Various “in” jokes that everyone would’ve understood in the early ’30s are now incomprehensible, and other jokes probably sounded dumb even at the time. Look, just try watching one of those standard revues like Paramount on Parade–they can be cute and have fun visuals, but they’re not exactly Shakespeare…! So with all this in mind, let’s a look at those nine fateful films:
The Cameraman (1928)
— A humble tintype photographer becomes smitten with a girl who works at MGM’s newsreel department, so he tries to become a dashing newsreel cameraman in hopes of winning her affections.
My Thoughts: Having thoroughly reviewed this film in the past, there’s not much more praise I can add to this sweet, touching, and very funny masterpiece of the last silent era. Despite being made at MGM it still feels like a true Buster Keaton production, which must’ve been pretty heartening to him at the time. What I can say is, if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you waiting for?
Spite Marriage (1929)
— Elmer the pants presser has a major crush on a theater actress, and is amazed and thrilled when she asks if he wants to marry her. Little does he know, however, that’s she’s only trying to get back at her former lover.
My Thoughts: This is definitely more discernable as “an MGM” than The Cameraman, largely because the girl is a more fleshed out character with a story of her own. (It’s the kind of story you could insert into a dozen other 1930s films, too.) While this shifts the focus back and forth between Elmer and the girl, it also accentuates his “underdog” status. I can see how some people might criticize “Elmer” as overly bumbling, but much of that bumbling does take place in Buster’s element–the theater!–and he’s allowed to prove himself in the end. The sudden switch to being stranded on a ship a la The Navigator might throw you for a loop, but I liked the inadvertent throwback to countless silent two-reelers of yore. And I must say, we’ve seen our gentle Buster rise to the occasion and fight villains before, but the big fight scene is surprisingly violent–I was startled to see he was even given some blood makeup at the end. Blood makeup on a comedian, on our Buster, guys–not the norm back then! It’s also great getting out into the open air and seeing him run all over the ship, although his cameramen from his independent days might’ve come up with more effective ways to frame those scenes.
Generally it’s a good, solid comedy, and also delivers one of the classic funny scenes of Buster’s career–trying to put the drunk bride to bed. Apparently leading lady Dorothy Sebastian had no problem being essentially a “breathing prop”!
Free and Easy (1930)
— After a small town girl wins a beauty contest, her manager Elmer takes her to Hollywood so she can try to become a star. When attempts at getting her a “big break” fail, Elmer sneaks onto a movie set to talk her up but ends up getting a part in a movie himself.
My Thoughts: Buster’s first talkie has a classic case of ETS, or Early Talkie Syndrome: awkward stretches of silence, actors talking over each other, odd obligatory musical numbers, unedited scenes that seem to go on forever, and a thin, routine plot. Of course, Buster’s presence makes us more keenly aware of these things than we are already. But perhaps we’re so keenly aware that we don’t fully appreciate the fun parts of this film–and yes, they’re definitely there. I really liked the scenes of Buster running around MGM, which have plenty of those cute, mostly silent gags that were his element. There’s some cameos by big names like Cecil B. DeMille and plenty of behind-the-scenes action at the big studio. Of course, in 1930 this would’ve done double duty to showcase MGM itself as well as their comedian, but today it’s also interesting for film history fans. We also see Buster driving around the parking lots of Hollywood Boulevard–brief glimpses at the pragmatic part of Hollywood in its heyday.
And goofy as it is I do have a soft spot for the “Free and Easy” musical number, despite Buster being saddled with some really weird pants (why? I can forgive the makeup but why the pants, MGM??). He has a pleasant singing voice and does some excellent dancing, easily leading the large group of chorus girls behind him. And then he’s suddenly transformed into a living marionette–for, uh, 1930s Talkie Reasons–and bounced all over the stage, which is both perfectly inexplicable and really, really easy to view as an allegory of Buster’s time at MGM. (Although I can’t help thinking it must’ve been fun to perform.)
Speaking of inexplicable, Free and Easy has even more of a downer ending than Seven Chances and I’m not sure why. Perhaps the studio had a hard time deciding how to wrap it up? “Well, we got a romantic triangle, a bunch of gags, and the usual singing and dancing out of the way, now what?” Perhaps they were taking a “sad clown” cue from some of Chaplin’s features, while ignoring the kind of thoughtful setup Chaplin usually had? Alrighty then.
— The rich, sheltered Elmer J. Stuyvesant Jr. accidentally signs up for the army during WWI and goes through fumbling attempts at training alongside other misfit recruits. He’s sent to the front lines and discovers his crush from back home is an entertainer for the troops.
My Thoughts: This feature’s looked upon pretty kindly by Buster fans, and I’m one of them. He had a heavier hand in the story idea and construction than in Free and Easy and it shows with its plentiful sight gags and sparing (in Buster’s case) dialogue. Doubtless it was mighty interesting for him to draw on his actual experiences in WW1. His also resurrects the kind of “sheltered rich boy” familiar from The Navigator and Battling Butler. We can imagine that if Buster had remained an independent filmmaker, he probably would’ve been making features somewhat along the lines of Doughboys.
It still has some ETS, and some of the humor probably would’ve played better in a silent comedy (like the “gang of misfit soldiers,” which would come across stronger in a more cartoony world). It also marks the first appearance of Cliff Edwards, an easygoing, quirky performer who would be teamed with Buster a few more times in the future. Edward Brophy’s isn’t bad as the barking sergeant, although he tends to shout everything at the same volume, and scenes like the “Apache Dance” add some memorable slapstick action (although it’s somewhat painful-sounding!). I can’t help cringing a bit at the scenes that follow Buster’s blundering into the wrong house–talk about humiliating!
All in all, it’s a cute film that I’d probably recommend as a “first MGM” to folks unfamiliar with that period of Buster’s career. If anything, you must watch that one scene of Buster and the boys playing music together, where he’s clearly getting into the song and just being himself. A surprising interlude worth the price of admission.
Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931)
— Jeffrey and Ginny hope to get married, but Ginny won’t commit until her older sister is married, too. Since the older sister is only interested in exciting, “wicked” types, Jeffrey tries to pass naïve little Reggie off as a wild playboy by hiring various women to fuss over him, hoping he’ll attract the sister’s interest.
My Thoughts: So yes, this is a bedroom farce–a bedroom farce–starring our sweet “Little Iron Man” Buster Keaton. Since this was the precode area (basically synonymous with “running around in negligees and underwear”) maybe we should be surprised it took MGM this long to put Buster in one? It was based on a popular stage play and was very much in tune with the screwball comedies that were becoming en vogue. Buster himself didn’t seem to mind it, probably for a couple reasons: he got to do scenes with talented comedienne Charlotte Greenwood (a giraffe of a funny lady) and got to film a number of exterior scenes at his own magnificent mansion, the Italian Villa. How he managed to pull that off I’m not sure, but it’s exciting to get to see his beautiful house, pool, and manicured grounds for yourself. Just imagine all the pool parties and BBQs he had in those very locations!
Seeing Buster’s naive little character transform into an overly-enthusiastic wooer of women is somewhat startling, although his scenes with Greenwood are a hoot. How they got through them without constantly cracking up must’ve been miraculous. (Apparently when they were filming the “kissing lesson” Greenwood’s face bumped against Buster’s teeth and started bleeding–you can see how that would’ve happened!) Other scenes where several women are kissed against their will haven’t aged that well, although they’re softened by a running joke where Cliff Edwards (as a bellhop) keeps opening a door at the most awkward times. I guess not everyone cares for all the running around in the end, but I’ve never minded a good “running in and out of doors” sequence. As a whole it’s definitely not an MGM you’ll soon forget–but it doesn’t spring to my mind when I think “Buster Keaton film.”
The Sidewalks of New York (1931)
— A slumlord tries to reform a group of wayward youth by cleaning up their neighborhood–and tries to get the attention of a pretty young woman of the tenements during the process. At the same time, the young woman’s little brother is getting in deep with real gangsters.
My Thoughts: The Sidewalks of New York is notorious for being the one MGM Buster apparently disliked the most, the one he was positive would be “a real stinker.” Well my friends, we all know artists aren’t always the best judges of their work, and I think Buster’s low opinion of Sidewalks is a good example. I like this film and really like Buster’s performance in it, and I’ll be danged if I don’t rewatch it from time to time.
Not that it’s exactly an overlooked classic. I mean, Buster Keaton plays a slumlord–which is a phrase you’d never come up with on your own–and he tries to reform the young local hoodlums by building them a gymnasium, which is another thing you’ve never, ever imagined Buster doing. But. But! If Buster was unhappy with the production there’s no sign of it onscreen. Indeed, he seems perfectly comfortable and looks quite handsome in general. His scenes with the groups of kids seemed to give him a boost, since they were effectively giving him a live audience, and he managed to work in plenty of moments for physical comedy. (I love the birthday scene where we think he’s going to ruin the cake…!) The subplot with the young brother and the gangsters seems shoehorned in and leads to a “funny” onstage scene that’s a little too dark, but it adds some ’30s color too–you know, plenty of “Aw go on, ya big lump!” and all that. And I’d like to give a shoutout to Cliff Edwards, who’s a delightful sidekick to Buster this time around. I dunno, Buster, I think Sidewalks was just swell.
The Passionate Plumber (1932)
— Elmer the plumber is trying to finance his new invention. He gets hired by a socialite to pretend to be her lover in order to make her boyfriend jealous.
My Thoughts: This oddly-titled film (based on a play called Her Cardboard Lover, and ya know, I don’t mind the original title) is pretty darn fun and will doubtless please a lot of Buster fans. He has more of a spine in this one, pushing back a bit when people are mean to him and coming up with plans to save the day. His dialogue is a bit more witty as well. The movie has plenty of fun with your continental stereotypes, such as Frenchmen being ready to duel at the slightest besmirching of their honor and a temperamental Spanish beauty going wild with jealousy. There’s also some pretty funny running jokes, like Buster trying to handle arguments with Frenchmen by melodramatically slapping them with a pair of gloves. I aso liked the contrast between dashing Gilbert Roland and diminutive Buster during the duel scenes (in real life Roland was a friend and Norma Talmadge’s lover). Speed up the pace a bit and make the dialogue snappier and this might well be a minor classic.
The Passionate Plumber also marks the first appearance of Jimmy Durante, who Buster would be inexplicably teamed with for two more films. I don’t know what happened to Cliff Edwards, but I wish they’d kept him on. Durante’s a likable guy, if very 1930s in some respects, but both his performance style and his looks make for an odd pairing with the elegant-featured Buster. Perhaps the idea was simply to combine a talkative guy with a quieter guy. Durante’s actually a pretty good addition to this film, being more of an occasional support to Buster and getting to interact with Sennett veteran Polly Moran–I’ll allow it. *Wink*
Speak Easily (1932)
— A sheltered college professor believes he’s come into a fortune and decides to leave campus and see more of the world. He runs into a third-rate theater troupe and falls for their lead actress, and decides to invest money in their show.
My Thoughts: This is my favorite of Buster’s MGM talkies, and it just might be yours, too. His “college professor” role–Professor Timoleon Zanders Post of Potts College, mind you–is unusual for him but he does a charming job, and it’s really fun hearing him spout all those “erudite” lines. He does a lot of bumbling but is also liked and respected by the theater troupe, which is a nice balance. He also works in a fairly dangerous stunt where he’s dragged along by a train, apparently before the studio could find out. The plot is pretty clear-cut and halfway through it’s livened up by the welcome presence of Thelma Todd (man, she got to work with so many incredible comedians…!). Her “drunk” scene with Professor Post is one of the high points, although I don’t know how many male viewers would buy the Professor being that naïve. Jimmy Durante is back and his stage comedian character fits his loud persona very well, I’d say. He fits into the movie more as a supporting character than a “partner” for Buster.
And I have to mention here–if you’re at all a fan of The Big Bang Theory, doesn’t Buster remind you of Sheldon in this film?! Lots of people have pointed out the similarities between Jim Parsons and Buster Keaton (his profile is even very similar to Buster’s) and all I can say is–Professor Timoleon Zanders Post is so Sheldon Cooper. (Or rather, the other way around!)
What!–No Beer? (1933)
— Excited by the upcoming end of Prohibition, Jimmy talks his taxidermist friend Elmer into buying an old brewery, hoping to meet the coming demand for beer. But when they ineptly start selling their product too early they’re raided by the police. However, Jimmy tries to get Elmer’s money back by bootlegging, and their cheap beer catches the eye of local gangsters.
My Thoughts: We’ve made it, the final MGM, and to many the nadir of Buster’s MGM career. More than one fan has claimed they only got halfway through it. Having watched the whole thing only recently, I can understand that mindset now–but I’ll add: keep watching.
From our first glimpse of Buster, it’s not hard to see why What! No Beer? can seem like a bleak affair (I could be wrong but I think the weird title was based on a song). Buster’s slide into full-blown alcoholism is clear as day onscreen, his face puffy and all of MGM’s fine lighting and makeup unable to mask the circles under his eyes. He even appears years older than in Speak Easily. And having the film revolve entirely around beer is extra wince-inducing–apparently MGM wanted a topical comedy ready to go once Prohibition ended, to the point of tunnel vision. The jokes in the first half are pretty weak, and I say that as someone who laughs at everything, and the scene where Buster and Jimmy start brewing beer is supposed to be zany but just seems clumsy and dumb. Part of the problem is Jimmy yelling at everyone for several minutes straight, maybe due to the director needing to fill in for the dialogue Buster wasn’t in shape to deliver. So far, I thought, Beer was living up to its reputation.
But then it actually got better. The pacing grew brisker, the story kept me interested, Buster had a Seven Chances throwback scene with a bunch of beer barrels, and he and Jimmy find a solution to their problem that owes a lot to the game spirit of the 1930s. It turned out to be fairly pleasant, guys, and please believe me when I say this: I’m one of the most sensitive Buster fans in the entire world, and if I can finish What! No Beer?, you can finish What! No Beer? I promise.
So there you have it, mini reviews of all the Buster MGMs! Some are stronger than others, but in general they’re decent early ’30s films, and even the weaker ones offer priceless Buster moments. Whenever I’ve watched them I’ve felt there are seeds of funny bits and running jokes that more capable comedy directors could’ve turned into something much stronger–think what the Hal Roach studio could’ve done with them or, of course, Buster himself. But in general I can’t help enjoying what we’ve been given.
And yes, I will be rewatching The Sidewalks of New York, Buster, thank yew very much!
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I think many of MGM Buster’s films are undervalued. I have not seen all of them but a good half.
I have always liked Spite mariage, especially the scenes recalling to the Navigator.
I also discovered Parlor, Bath and Bedrrom recently and found it funny. And indeed the italian villa must have been amazing (very impressed by the swimming pool you can see in the film)
Happy blogathon 🙂
It’s fun to spot the scenes in his MGMs that either came from his the silents or were at least inspired by them. He apparently made more contributions than we think! Thanks for reading, Michael.
Great summaries, Lea. Speak Easily is my favorite, too…and you KNOW how much I love Buster’s singing and dancing in Free And Easy.
How can you NOT love that part, in spite of those pants? 😀
i, too, have not seen all of them but will in the near future keeping your thoughts in mind! Thank you!
At the very least, the two silents are must-sees and I think SPEAK EASILY is, too!
I saw all of these early in my Buster fan days and found them a mixed bunch. My favorite of the talkies is The Passionate Plumber, with Speak Easily as a close second. Doughboys and Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath are cute time-wasters. I remember not liking Sidewalks of New York, but to be honest, I may have gone in expecting to hate it because I knew Buster disliked it. I probably wasn’t fair with my IMDB rating of 5/10 because all I can recall are the scenes I liked.
I like Spite Marriage more for the stark dramatic elements than the comedy– Dorothy Sebastian was his best leading lady during the MGM period and I wish they had made more movies together. (I also love the scene where Elmer actually gets hurt and angered by how dirty Trilby does him– we don’t often see that kind of emotion from him in his independent work.)
What! No Beer has a decent enough script but what made it painful to watch was how sick Buster looked in it. I think the movie is a solid enough film– more than I can say for Free and Easy, which I still dislike.
Musical number with Buster aside, I find the movie grating– especially the shouting from the stage mother and the terrible, bad, no-good love story with Anita Page and Robert Montgomery. Montgomery is such a cad and she’s such a doormat! The ending is out of left field, and I agree with you– they wanted a Chaplin ending without understanding what makes Chaplin’s tear-jerkers appropriate and not just cheap attempts at pathos (or in this case, bathos).
Phew! Sorry about the mini rant lol. That being said, you’re making me want to revisit these. I have not seen any of the talkies since the early to mid 2010s.
Oh I love thoughtful comments like these. 🙂 Yes it never hurts to revisit the MGMS, they all have their moments and you just might like them better than you expected! Like I said, the usual “early 1930s talkie” issues can color our opinions a bit– and knowing Buster’s back story REALLY does. Just remember, guys, he didn’t really like SEVEN CHANCES either…!
I am not at all surprised to have learned so much from this post! I loved looking at the films from your perspective! I do really like a few of these movies! My two favorites are “The Passionate Plumber” and “Doughboys”, I just cannot choose between the two 😉. Thank you for giving us your spectacular insight into these films!
Thank YOU for reading, it’s much appreciated!
Reading about the MGMs me want to see Buster co-starring with Marie Dressler and Marion Davies.
Buster, Marie and Marion, directed by King Vidor!
Any truth to the story that Buster pitched a talkie western comedy co-starring Marie Dressler to Irving Thalberg but Louis B. Mayer nixed it? If so, it could have also featured Polly Moran as Sheriff Nell. What might have been. . .
Whoop I just commented about that, ha ha–yes that’s a true story!
There’s that great “what might have been” story where Buster tried pitching a story to MGM that was set in the pioneer days, where he would play the shrimpy nephew to the formidible aunt Marie Dressler and accompany her out west “for protection.” Very similar vibe to STEAMBOAT BILL JR, what a pity it never came to anything.
I find myself liking Buster’s MGM talkies, with the exception of FREE & EASY, more as I get older (and less critical). Were THE SAPHEAD the only existing Buster Keaton silent feature, those MGM talkies, especially SPEAK EASILY, would have a much better rep. They (and everyone else’s films) look crummy compared to such masterpieces as THE GENERAL
I really enjoyed reading this!
I’ve never understood Buster’s dislike of Sidewalks of New York either. I personally really enjoyed it and always felt like I must be missing something.
It’s nice to know I’m not alone!
You aren’t! It’s a perfectly decent comedy. Come on, Buster. 😉
It was tough watching these films for the very first time because I couldn’t help but compare them to his silent masterpieces, but once I got past that, I could enjoy them for the special moments Buster added to the scenes. I admit I do love the very catchy Free and Easy song Buster performs although the make-up and those #$%@ pants make me cringe all the way through. What! No Beer? is tough to watch no matter how often I see it. Not only is it hard to watch Buster’s haggard appearance but often there is noticeable slurring of his lines which is a constant reminder of his misery during this period. But if you can put the many distractions aside, you can find some golden moments because well, of course… it’s our Buster!
He can’t help but add a little “something” to every production, it’s true!
Wonderful reviews – a great summary. In recent years I have come to watch many other 1930-1933 “comedies,” and by that standard (although faint praise) Buster’s films are quite good, better than most. I think Cliff Edwards was the perfect sidekick, he knew how to play second fiddle, supporting Buster’s work, rather than screaming over it like Jimmy. That Doughboys musical jam session is almost like a documentary, a “live concert,” revealing even more of Buster’s many talents.
Amen to that—I love Cliff.
That’s such a great part, Buster really does seem to forget the camera and just start being himself. Magic!
If the MGMs really are that bad, practically everything from the early ’30s was bad–that’s about where I’m at right now. 😉
I enjoyed reading these reviews. I have all of them. I get them out and watch them from time to time!
There ya go! 🙂
I like the two silent films of this MGM group very much, but I have mixed feelings about the sound films. There are some great moments in them but also a lot of waste. I think all these films deserve at least a review, although unfortunately finding them in good condition is a bit difficult in my part of the world.
Yeah I had to jump around my DVD collection, YouTube, and Archive.org to come up with the ones I didn’t have yet. It was quite an achievement to find them all, lol.
Thanks for making us discover those films! As a matter of fact, The Cameraman, Spite Marriage and Free & Easy are among the very first Buster Keaton films I saw, but I still have to watch the others. I love the mindset you too to review those films and always found their positive aspects. Excellent article!
Thank you!! You’ll probably love SPEAK EASILY, I sure do. 🙂
I think I’ve seen all of these except “Speak Easily” and “What!–No Beer?” and found a measure of enjoyment in all of them.
I’m not certain if it’s your term or something more general, but I love this concept of “ETS.” It always feels to me like films of this era took a massive step backwards in terms of craft and subtlety–as though people had to rethink the whole language of film through a different mechanic. I wonder what a real fan of the early ’30s films would have to say about that. . . perhaps, with more exposure to them, the structure of early talkies starts to make more sense.
ETS is totally an acronym I’m going to be using from now on!
The early talkie era is fascinating for both its primitiveness and invention. You definitely get a lot of clunkers, but there are some movies which really took advantage of the sound technology, like James Whale’s Frankenstein (the dirt hitting the coffin lid, the Monster’s heavy footsteps lumbering out of camera range to create a sense of dread) or All Quiet on the Western Front (the gunfire, especially when we hear that one shot off camera in the harrowing last scene).
If you’re interested in exploring that period, pre-code.com is packed with information and analysis of the early sound era in Hollywood.
Oh, I’ve never seen “All Quiet on the Western Front,” although I remember the novel vividly. I’ll have to give it a try!
Much agreed, that’s a great website! There’s reviews of the Buster MGMs on there, too.
It’s funny, I introduced my brother to silents a few years back and we watched through a bunch of them. At one point he turned to me and said, “It looks like films went down in quality for awhile after the silent era.” You’re not alone in this observation!
Have seen only the first 2 silent MGMs and while I like the Cameraman, I really REALLY REALLLY like Spite Marriage. This is a Buster Keaton Production with Buster’s name above the title, wherein from his first entrance to his exit, Keaton delivers – and how! Particularly enjoyable was the theatrical performance of ‘Carolina,’ in which Buster, who knows all the actor’s parts by heart, having seen the play 35 times, takes over the role of the #2 villain, to the audience’s delight and the backstage manager’s despair. Keaton has a wonderful costar in this rollicking comedy, namely Dorothy Sebastian, who is not the usual vapid love interest but a worthy partner for Keaton. Had Spite Marriage been made as a talkie, it would would have been a bore. This just goes to show that the best silent comedy is superior to comedy dependent on dialogue for its laughs.
I love Sebastian so much in the movie. She’s like a nastier version of what I call Keaton’s “comic partner” leading ladies, like Kathryn Macguire in The Navigator or Marion Mack in The General. They do more than serve as motivators for the plot and Trilby Drew just brims with personality. I love her.
It’s a shame Sebastian and Keaton were never teamed up again. Their chemistry is definitely unique.
Sebastian and Keaton DID team up again! I just now watched ‘Allez Oop’ on YouTube. It’s a 1934 ‘Educational’ short and it’s WONDERFUL. Laughed from beginning to end. I don’t have sound on my laptop but no sound was needed. My favorite of the 2 big scenes is Keaton practicing on a trapeze in his backyard and having a bit of trouble getting the hang of it. Soon after this he puts his trapeze practice to good use in rescuing Sebastian. Keaton is not credited as having written the script, but this film has his fingerprints all over it. Keaton fits perfectly into this talkie, which hasn’t been ruined by talking.
Oh my God, I forgot all about Allez Oop. That one was so cute.
Erm… *looks around, whispers* I’ve seen very few of the films you’ve listed here, but I loved how you wrote about them, praising their merits and not dismissing them. A very objective look at Buster’s MGM features, and when I watch them, I’ll be using your post as a resource.
P.S. Thanks for continuing to host this blogathon. I learn more about Buster and his work each year.
It was my pleasure! And I’m glad you enjoyed the post, these mini reviews are fun to write.
You always do a wonderful job in the blogathon, and once again you did it! I’ve watched only two of Buster’s MGM films (The Cameraman and Speak Easily), but I enjoyed reading about all of them. And, yes, in Speak Easily Buster reminds me of Sheldon Cooper!
SO Sheldon Cooper! Thanks so much for reading, Le!
I haven’t seen any of these, but I’m certainly intrigued–Cameraman looks awesome. And I’m trying to picture Buster and Jimmy together but it seems like an odd pairing even if the film isn’t too bad–two big personalities there. 🙂
Buster,and Jimmy were opposites: Buster stoic, Jimmy frenetic. The pairing could work well in the right setting, as Speak Easily showed.
I really like their roles in Speak Easily, the characters are actually SUPPOSED to clash, having completely different backgrounds/perspectives.
Well, I think Jimmy would tend to overshadow Buster because the eye naturally goes to the showiest person. Parings seem to come off best when actors can meet in the middle somehow.
And two personalities that were practically from different planets! 😉
THE CAMERAMAN is FABULOUS, I recommend watching it asap!
Absolutely! I’m itching to see it. 🙂
We finally got hold of What, No Beer? Look out below.
Uh oh 😀
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