ANNOUNCEMENT: The Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

Cue the trumpets, my friends–for our annual celebration of all things Buster Keaton is coming back for a sixth year in a row!

Busterthon 6 2

(Yes, I’m having it in March this time–all the February dates were already gobbled up by other blogathons. Man, my fellow bloggers are fast. Next time I’ll have to announce it in July! 😉 )

Continue reading

Would You Watch A CGI Charlie Chaplin?

After thinking over the bizarre news that a CGI James Dean is going to be inserted into a new film, and after being inspired by a recent post on the matter by my friend Backlots, I’ve decided to chime in with my thoughts. Film technology’s made crazy leaps and bounds this this century, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve created the armies of Mordor, flying wizards, phenomenal superhero battles, even whole galaxies far, far away. We’re even on the verge of conquering that pesky “uncanny valley” problem (maybe). So I guess since the sky is the limit, the question is apparently: would you watch a brand new performance by a fully CGI Charlie Chaplin?

Image result for minecraft charlie chaplin

Better than this one, I mean.

Or let me phrase it another way: would you watch a CGI Buster Keaton? If you’re a fan like I am you just screamed “NOOOO!!!” and threw a shoe across the room (it dented the wall). Just the thought makes you recoil, yes? Even more so than Charlie, for some reason. How about a CGI Rudolph Valentino? Or CGI Clara Bow? But…but what if the CGI was really, really good? Continue reading

My Recap Of The 2019 San Francisco Silent Film Festival (And A Giveaway!)

It was almost too good to be true–a whole year flew by, and the festival was here again! After a busy day of travelling I made it to the Castro neighborhood on May 1 with time to spare (I highly recommend a kebab place just down the street from the theater. It gave me new life). Walking into the theater was like revisiting an old (and grand-looking) friend. And I couldn’t have been more ready for:

Opening Night Showing, Wednesday, May 1

Continue reading

So, About Buster And Charlie’s “Limelight” Scene…

Even casual classic comedy fans are familiar with the most famous scene from Charlie Chaplin’s bittersweet Limelight (1951), where he’s teamed with Buster Keaton onscreen for the first and only time. Playing old comedy partners reuniting for a comeback performance, they do a bit of charming, music hall-style slapstick that ends with Chaplin’s character Calvero succumbing to a fatal injury.

Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin in Limelight (1952)

And they also gave us this gallery-worthy still.

Ever since they filmed those scenes in the early ’50s, rumors have been flying that the arrogant Charlie Chaplin, witnessing humble genius Buster brilliantly churning out gag after gag far funnier than anything Chaplin ever dreamed of, jealously chopped it all out of the film. No one upstages the world’s most famous comedian, by gum! So what’s left are but hollow glimpses of Buster’s mastery, so cruelly squashed by the man who…well, personally hired him to play a role in his deeply personal film.

Nobly enduring the squashing of his brilliance.

Okay, guys, let’s all be honest here–you’ve haven’t actually watched the entire Limelight, have you? No, you just watched the 8-minute clip of Buster and Charlie on YouTube a few times and called it a day. Okay, fine, four of you have seen Limelight, but the rest of you–come now! At least give Chaplin’s thoughtful film a chance (he wrote a 100,000 word novel about his characters just to prepare for the actual filming. No kidding).

Why am I making this assumption? Because once you’ve seen Limelight, the idea that Buster’s character should’ve taken the spotlight in the “comeback” scene makes no sense. Absolutely no sense at all, my friends.  Continue reading

A Big THANK YOU From Me And Buster!

Yet another wonderful Buster Keaton Blogathon has come to a close. After reading and enjoying all your thoughtful articles and essays,  I want to offer a warm:

Buster blogathon thank you 2019

Not only is this annual event an excellent way to celebrate Buster’s work, but it’s also doing a service to his legacy. Every Buster-themed post in every participating blog introduces his work to readers around the world. Since not everyone is familiar with silent comedy nowadays, events like this are one small way of contributing to a worthy cause–spreading the joy of Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton’s masterful films. Continue reading

Buster’s Wife’s Relations: Getting To Know The Talmadge Family

This is my own post for the Fifth Annual Busterthon–I hope you enjoy!

Let us consider Norma and Constance Talmadge. They were two of the brightest stars of the silent era, the role models of countless gals and the crushes of countless young men. And today, they are–you’ve guessed it–practically forgotten. While they’re starting to be recognized as important figures in cinema history, their films are rarely screened and seldom discussed. But there’s one big reason they’re still remembered: their connection to a certain beloved comedian–Buster Keaton.

Continue reading

BLOGATHON UPDATE: Less Than Two Weeks Until Busterthon Five!

Happy Friday, all! It’s hard to believe, but the anticipated Buster Blogathon V is only ten days away!

Busterthon 5-4

This year we have a lot of Busterthon regulars as well as some new faces. A hearty welcome to all–this event is shaping up to be as exciting and enlightening as previous years! Continue reading

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Fifth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

Hear ye, hear ye! I am pleased to announce the return of Silent-ology’s prestigious blogathon, devoted to that inimitable thespian of the enigmatic visage and whimsical porkpie chapeau, the singular Joseph Frank Keaton:

Busterthon 5-1

Can you believe this blogathon is in its fifth year? I can hardly believe it myself. (That also means my blog is about to turn 5 years old–I can hardly believe that, too!) And thus, once again I would like to extend the cordial invitation to all my fellow film bloggers to join in this annual celebration of everything Buster Keaton–one of the most important and unique figures in cinematic history.

Continue reading

Fan Magazine Fun: “My goodness, don’t they look strange?”

So here’s a slightly baffling item from the quirky magazine Film Fun, which as you may recall is the gift that keeps on giving. I’ve decided that if Film Fun took human form, it would definitely be a starstruck teen with ADHD.

The June, 1926 issue included this two-page spread called “The Family Album.” Here’s the first page (rightclick and hit “open image in new tab” if you want to zoom in):

Family album FilmFun June '26 1

Which is all somewhat incomprehensible without context. Basically, stars posed for Victorian-style portraits meant to look like dead “relations” of yore, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, of course. Captions ramped up the fun by giving them old-fashioned sounding names like “Lulu Hicks” and “Hiram Bump.” Oh, you kids! Continue reading

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2018: The Mighty Recap

Now that I’m home from California, here is my recap of this year’s fabulous festival! Fun fact: portions of this post were written while sitting at the bar of the Pig ‘N’ Whistle restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, next door to Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre…not an office I get to use every day!

Opening Night Presentation: Wednesday, May 30

I arrived in San Francisco in the mid-afternoon of May 30th, and after doing a bit of sight-seeing among those windy hills (but no cable car-riding–drat those eternal lines!) I took one of those historic streetcars down to the Castro theater. Ah, beautiful Castro theater, how I’ve missed thee. After missing the 2017 fest, it felt “right” to finally be back.

The 23rd San Francisco Silent Film Festival began with a tribute to the late Frank Buxton, who had a lengthy and busy career in TV, movies, and radio (he was a writer on Happy Days and directed episodes of Mork and Mindy, to name a few things). He had been an indispensable member of the festival board, and it was clear how much he was already missed.

Then the lights went down, the great curtains parted to reveal the screen–I do love that quiet, magical moment of anticipation–and the 5-day festival of beautiful restorations and the world’s finest live accompaniment had begun!

Continue reading