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Author Topic: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton  (Read 578 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: June 17, 2017, 05:16:53 AM »
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  • http://www.busterkeaton.com/Films/B06_Hard_Luck.html
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6f/Hard_Luck_%281921%29.webm

    Watch HARD LUCK in the link above.

    HARD LUCK explores Buster's most popular theme: the young man who can't win no matter how hard he tries.  In HARD LUCK, this includes failing to commit suicide, poach armadillos, and dive into a pool.  Unfortunately, this theme is the entire film which while entertaining leaves little to review.

    Buster wouldn't be Buster if he didn't give it his 100% best effort; I think the same applies to Joe Roberts.  The careful use of camera angles and scenery/objects works masterfully, such as the "car" that he jumps in front of.  We're seeing more of the Buster film trickery that made him the legend he became and still is.

    The "attached to a branch of the zoo" is one of the best verbal gags you'll see in any of his films.  Likewise, it's pretty hilarious when he proposes to the married woman who just nonchalantly gives him the bad news.  The scene at the end is in a similar vein of humor.

    Before anyone starts into it, this was released before the Arbuckle fiasco and isn't associated with it.

    9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
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    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: June 18, 2017, 09:35:31 AM »
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  • Lots and lots of gags.  Not complaining.  Also the world's shortest armadillo hunt.

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: June 18, 2017, 12:39:49 PM »
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  • The lack of focus in this one is pretty distracting. After Keaton's failed attempts at suicide, he joins an armadillo hunt that goes nowhere, a fox hunt that really doesn't go anywhere either, and then we get the plot of Joe Roberts as a villain in he last few minutes. It feels like Keaton is trying to fit way too many things into this short.

    Does this make this a bad short? No. As Big Chief mentioned, this short is very rich in gags, which much like in CONVICT 13 helps to make up for a lot of the story problems. Plus, the fox hunt plot, even though nothing particularly important happens, at least allows for Keaton to do a lot of stunt work with a horse. The irony with the husband definitely makes for a funny twist when it comes to his relationship with Virginia Fox. The fact that the ending still exists is great, considering that it was lost for so many years and audiences only had Keaton's description of the scene to judge it from. Supposedly, this was Keaton's favorite out of all of his two-reelers.

    I do wish that there was a little more attention to the writing in terms of the overall plot, but when it comes to Keaton, my main expectation is either that he impresses me or makes me laugh, and he does both in this short.

    9 out of 10

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 07:03:10 AM »
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  • After Keaton's failed attempts at suicide, he joins an armadillo hunt that goes nowhere, a fox hunt that really doesn't go anywhere either

    Continuing the theme of failure.  He fails at armadillo hunting, and he fails at fox hunting.  He fails at just riding the dumb horse!
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #4 on: June 20, 2017, 08:43:43 AM »
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  • Continuing the theme of failure.  He fails at armadillo hunting, and he fails at fox hunting.  He fails at just riding the dumb horse!

    Eh, I guess that makes sense. I just wish that he would have focused more on one of these rather than attempting to do all three in such a short time span.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #5 on: June 22, 2017, 01:20:44 PM »
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  • Lots and lots of gags.  Not complaining.  Also the world's shortest armadillo hunt.

          This statement is 100% correct.  Really, there is not much of a story to this one, as it's just Keaton being a wanderer who, as Paul says, runs into consistent failure, or as the title states, "hard luck."  At first he's suicidal, then that's forgotten about as he continues roaming around.  This film almost works as a strange dream, though it's never stated to be one.  As for suicide, this theme was explored a year earlier in Harold Lloyd's HAUNTED SPOOKS, and if you don't know the production history of that film, please go to Google now.  You will be fascinated.

          Lack of a story is really no big deal, as everything flows perfectly together, Keaton is always enjoyable to watch (this film might not work with a lesser comedian), and the gags are consistently great.  For years, every time I see two headlights on the road at night, I wonder if it can be a motorcycle instead of a car, so that gag has definitely left an impression.  The business with the horse and bear is wonderful, and Keaton on the horse, hand across forehead, sureveying the area, is an iconic Keaton image to me.  Speaking of gags that left impressions, putting bullets into a burning stove that blasts bad guys, or going fishing and using a small fish to grab a bigger fish a few times over...Three Stooges gags.  Keaton is an influence again.  Also enjoy the cat and mouse game Keaton and Joe Roberts play with each other when Roberts slowly stalks an aware Keaton, similarly done in CONVICT 13.  As far as the high dive gag, you guys talked about the history of it, and when I got into Keaton a little over 15 years ago, this footage was only found a few years before. 

          A nice short overall, there truly is not one single silent solo Keaton film I'd label as below par. Some are just better than others.

    9/10

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #6 on: June 23, 2017, 07:26:42 AM »
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  • When I first watched this film, the fish and bullet gags stood out clearly to me.  Keep in mind Clyde Bruckman...
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #7 on: June 25, 2017, 09:23:11 PM »
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  • As for suicide, this theme was explored a year earlier in Harold Lloyd's HAUNTED SPOOKS, and if you don't know the production history of that film, please go to Google now.  You will be fascinated.

    If you're referring to the incident with the prop bomb, it definitely is very fascinating. Knowing about Lloyd's situation with his hand makes scenes such as the scene of Lloyd dangling from the clock seem even more scary (and yes, I do know that he wasn't actually dangling from as high as it looked).