In its review of The Blue Bird back in 1918, The New York Times declared, “…It is a safe assertion to say that seldom, if ever, has the atmosphere and spirit of a written work been more faithfully reproduced in motion pictures.” This observation holds true today, but with a twist for “we moderns.” For this film embodies the spirit of Edwardian fairytales and indeed many old European fairytales so thoroughly that for us, it could almost be from another planet. And for those of us willing to experience The Blue Bird today, that’s a good thing.
While far too many films of Jazz Age star Marion Davies are lost or unavailable, happily a few gems still survive. In my opinion the shiniest gem is probably Show People (1928), an affectionate satire of the movies that’s the very definition of a “crowd pleaser”.
Hola! I’ve been out of town for a awhile but am back just in time for the Five Stars Blogathon hosted by Classic Film and TV Cafe, celebrating National Classic Movie Day–my kind of holiday!
In true Silent-ology style, I decided to focus on my top 5 utmost favorites from the silent era, rather than film in general. So let’s count down to number 1: Continue reading
The Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon has come to a close, and I wanted to say:
Yes, you are seeing that correctly. That is the world’s most mindblowing photo of Buster Keaton, LAUGHING OUT LOUD for the world to see!! (Look at his TEETH!! WHEN DO YOU EVER GET TO SEE THOSE.) I first saw a copy of it thanks to historian Ed Watz, and this particular one was illustrating a 1930s magazine story about Buster directing shorts for MGM. It was published in March 1938 (I don’t know the magazine unfortunately–let me know if you do!) Continue reading
This is my own post for the Third Annual Busterthon–hope you enjoy!
It’s one of the most famous scenes in all of silent comedy–the “can of molasses” scene from the Roscoe Arbuckle short The Butcher Boy (1917). This had the honor of being former vaudevillian Buster Keaton’s very first scene ever committed to celluloid. He always spoke of it with fondness and in his later years he enjoyed reenacting it for TV shows. And significantly, he would say that it had been done in one take. He’s often quoted from his autobiography, My Wonderful World of Slapstick:
Incidentally, I’ve been told that my first scene in The Butcher Boy is still the only movie-comedy scene ever made with a newcomer that was photographed only once. In other words my film debut was made without a single retake. p. 93.
Having watched The Butcher Boy approximately 458 times, I now wonder: if we examined the gag frame-by-frame, could we discover how this seemingly simple scene was put together? And was the entire molasses scene done in one take? Can we spot any clues that would prove it? Clear your schedules, my friends, ’cause this is about to get detailed.
IT IS HERE.
UPDATE 2/21/17: The third and final day of the blogathon is here! New posts are up and ready for viewing, enjoy!
For the third year in a row we’re celebrating the work of our genius in slapshoes, the one and only Buster Keaton. His work is timeless, his mark on film history irreplaceable, and of course, he was the master of making us laugh. And this time around we are also commemorating a special year: the centennial of Buster’s entry into films, a milestone year that will never come again.
100 years ago Buster agreed to play a scene in Roscoe Arbuckle’s brand new Comique two-reeler. And movie audiences have been falling for his talent and humor ever since.
Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today, tomorrow, or Tuesday. I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for all participants, the winners receiving a either a $25 gift certificate to Buster Stuff, a copy of Imogene Sara Smith’s book The Persistence of Comedy, or the DVD set Industrial Strength Keaton! The drawing will be held on February 22.
Readers: Drop by often to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers adore comments. And when you’re finished reading all the wonderful posts, why not pop in a few Buster films? It’s BK100, y’all–let’s celebrate!
Silent-ology: Analyzing the Molasses Scene From The Butcher Boy
Silver Screenings: Steamboat Bill, Jr. or Buster Keaton and the Important Things in Life
Special Purpose Movie Blog: The General: Factual or Fictional?
MovieMovieBlogBlog: For the Love of Buster Keaton
Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood: An Early Keaton Fan: Grace Kingsley
Big Riot V Squad: Buster Keaton: From Stage to Screen
Finding Nelson Evans: Keaton’s Leading Ladies in Pictures
Caftan Woman: Review of the books Keep Your Eye on the Kid, Bluffton: My Summer with Buster Keaton, and Keaton Comedies: A Toby Bradley Adventure
Silent Locations: Amazing New Keaton Discoveries: My Wife’s Relations
Life’s Daily Lessons Blog: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Little Bits of Classics: Chaplin and Keaton: Two Friends in the Limelight
Popcorn Optional: Buster Keaton: A Wonderful World of Slapstick
Welcome To My Magick Theatre: Buster Goes to College
Senseless Cinema: The Haunted Worlds of Buster Keaton
An Ode to Dust: Buster Keaton: In the Works (Graphic novel project)
Century Film Project: Oh Doctor!
Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews: Our Hospitality
Critica Retro: Review of My Wonderful World of Slapstick
The Fyuzhe: On Buster’s Television Work
Hometowns to Hollywood: Buster’s Hometown of Piqua, Kansas
Prince of Hollywood: 100 Years of Buster Keaton: The First Films of a Comedy Legend
The Midnite Drive-In: Twilight Zone episode “Once Upon a Time”
The Scribe Files: Buster, Italian Style (or Due Marines e un Maestro)
Christina Wehner: The Joy of Discovering Buster Keaton
The Wonderful World of Cinema: My First Time With Buster Keaton: One Week
The Lonely Critic: The Navigator
Silent-ology’s grand Buster celebration is a little over a week away, everyone!! Are you as excited as I am?!
Quite a few bloggers have signed up for this event, and since 2017 is a special year I’ve gone all out and decided that Silent-ology will be holding not one, not two, but three drawings for all blogathon participants! (The hundred-year anniversary of Buster entering films ain’t happening again, folks!) Here are the prizes: Continue reading
For a long time the world knew her as “The Biograph Girl.” Family and friends knew her as “Flo.” And in time, fans would know her by her full, rhyming name, “Florence Lawrence.” And today we also tend to add this phrase–“The First Movie Star.”
Contrary to popular lore she wasn’t technically the first movie star, but she certainly was one of the earliest. Continue reading
My friends, I’m thrilled to announce:
I’m thrilled not just because this is a fantastic annual event celebrating one of the finest, most beloved comedians who ever walked this earth, but because 2017 marks 100 years since Buster first entered the movies on that fateful day in NYC back in 1917. That makes this blogathon an extra special one, and frankly, I’ve been waiting for it for years. Continue reading
While many people are familiar with only a handful of big names, the world of silent comedy was a vast, dizzying hurricane of one- and two-reelers starring folk of every conceivable size, shape, and level of talent. A great many tried and a great many failed to win themselves a coveted spot on the “Beloved Performers Who Will Be Immortal” list.
If you are a fan of silent comedy, you already know all those big names: Charlie, Buster, Harold, Mabel, Roscoe (not “Fatty,” mind you), and so on. If you are a buff, you probably also know Max, Lupino, Snub, Ford, and so on. And you also never to call Roscoe “Fatty.”
But what of all those other names? Who were some of the really obscure comedians from those far-off days when automobiles were finally catching on? Many of them are lucky if a handful of their shorts survive. But while the Immortals such as Charlie and Buster were certainly very popular back in the day, at one time these forgotten people had fanbases of their own (some smaller than others). Continue reading