“My Friend Charlie”–A 1952 Buster Keaton Interview

Here’s an interesting piece I’ve been wanting to share! It’s from a book called The Legend of Charlie Chaplin, compiled by Peter Haines. This is a collection of essays and interviews by Chaplin’s friends, fellow actors, and other contemporaries, recalling their experiences with him. They’re essentially reprints from hard-to-find publications, the dates ranging from the 1910s-1970s. And we’re talking pieces by greats like Mary Pickford, Mack Sennett, Stan Laurel, etc. I can’t recall hearing anyone discuss this book–although I suppose it was printed back in the early ’80s–and I got it off Amazon a few years ago on a whim (where it’s still available at surprisingly reasonable prices, by the way).

The Legend of Charlie Chaplin: HAINING, Peter.: 9780491026086 ...

Keep an eye out for it!

One of the pieces is an interview given by our Buster Keaton to the French magazine Arts in October 1952, during the time when Limelight (1952) was being publicized. It’s, err, clearly translated from French, which was already translated from English, resulting in an oddly formal tone for the salt-of-the-earth Buster. But here and there you can decipher a very Buster-ish phrase or two. Continue reading

Fan Magazine Fun: “Cut-Out Caricatures” And Other Century-Old Art

Haven’t done one of these posts in awhile! It’s time to poke through the ol’ antique fan magazines and see what they’ve been hiding for 90-100 years. Today, let’s focus on those artsy illustrations!

These charmers are from a two-page spread in the November 1923 issue of Motion Picture Magazine, called “Cut-Out Caricatures.” Well whaddaya know, this minimalist style just happens to be all the rage today:

So that’s Nita Naldi, Buster, Richard Barthelmess, Norma Talmadge, Mary, and Doug, respectively. Let’s not forget Bull Montana, because I almost did:

Cut out Bull Montana Continue reading

Reviewing ALL Of Buster’s 1930s Educational Shorts! (Yes, Talkies)

This is my own entry for the Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon. Hope you enjoy!

Ah, Buster’s talkies–few topics cause greater discussion among Keaton fans. We all agree that his own silent films are veritable masterpieces, but the talkies he was starred in? Let’s just say that opinions vary.

Image result for buster keaton free and easy

Hmmm.

But while Buster’s MGM talkies are widely analyzed, his 1930s comedy shorts get less attention. Or, more likely, they’re written off as merely “inferior” to his solo work and that’s about it. While I can’t really disagree, I do think there’s some gems among the Educationals. And you really can’t put a price on getting several extra hours’ worth of Keaton performances–and in sound! Continue reading

The Sixth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

UPDATE: Just put up a couple more posts, check them out! Apparently WordPress likes to add some comments to the spam folder for no discernible reason. 😉 Since there might be another late post or two still trickling in, I’m going to give everyone a little extra time and hold the drawing for the gift certificate tomorrow (the 12th) instead of today. Many thanks, everybody!

Aaaaand we’re back! Welcome, my friends, to:

Busterthon 6 2

I feel like the past year really flew by, didn’t it? And now our ‘thon is on year 6–I can hardly believe it, folks! A hearty “Welcome Back” to all my regular readers who’ll be checking out the blogathon this weekend, and a big “Welcome!” to all new readers! Every year many talented bloggers take part in this big Buster Keaton celebration, and it’s always exciting to see what fun, informative, and even heartfelt posts are in store.

This year is extra special since our blogathon is proudly being sponsored by the famed International Buster Keaton Society, which has worked for over 25 years to preserve Buster’s films and share his extraordinary work with new generations of fans. I’ve enjoyed their annual convention and have also written for the Keaton Chronicle, so I can say from personal experience that you couldn’t ask for a lovelier group of Buster superfans. I’ll go ahead and plug the fact that you, too, can become a Damfino–memberships are inexpensive, and you’ll be playing a small role in keeping Buster’s legacy thriving!

Image result for international buster keaton society logo

Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today or tomorrow (and thanks to those of you who sent me a link early!). I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for the participants, too! The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to the Damfinos’ online Buster store. The drawing will be held on Thursday, March 12th–I’ll be in touch with the winner!

Image result for buster keaton

Readers: Drop by often today and tomorrow to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers love comments!

And if you’re curious, here are the links to the First, SecondThird, Fourth and Fifth Annual Buster Blogathons–a veritable library of all things Buster!

Alright, get cozy on your couch and let’s start reading!!

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Reviewing all of Buster’s 1930s Educational shorts

MovieMovieBlogBlogIIThe General

Cameras Against Humanity | Keaton and the Kuleshov Effect

Big V Riot SquadThe Saphead

MovieRobThe Stolen Jools

and The Navigator

Thoughts of One Truly LovedThe Navigator

Groovy Like a Silent Movie | Essay on Buster’s fandom

Ben Model’s Blog | “Buster Keaton Inspires Don Lockwood” essay

and “Undercranking Study: Buster Keaton Trails a Suspect” essay

Taking Up RoomIn the Good Old Summertime

Wonderful World of CinemaDay Dreams

Movie Crash CourseThe General

The Everyday CinephileThe Cameraman

Century Film ProjectConvict 13

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write a BlogSpeak Easily 

Critica RetroSherlock Jr

Talk About CinemaThe Railrodder and Buster Keaton Rides Again

Silver17 Productions | Fan trailer for The Cook

Kino JoanSherlock Jr

 

UPDATE: The Sixth Buster Blogathon Is Coming Up Soon!

In just seven days, it’ll be time for…

Busterthon 6 1

Yes, our “yearly Bustering” (as one fellow blogger put it) is nearly upon us! I’m looking forward to reading all your fine entries, and offer a pre-thank you to all the bloggers who are joining in. I know there’s a lot (a lot) of competing blogathons nowadays, so it’s always nice to see you guys set aside a little time to honor our favorite porkpie-hatted comedian! Continue reading

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! 😉 )

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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

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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