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Author Topic: The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton  (Read 246 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: September 16, 2017, 05:15:16 PM »
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  • Watch THE BALLOONATIC in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:
    http://www.busterkeaton.com/Films/B18_The_Balloonatic.html

    Recognize that fat lady in front of the "House of Trouble"?  That's Babe London.  Yes, it's Nora.

    In other news, this is a pretty fun short even if nondescript.  This mostly contains scenes of Buster failing to adapt to nature mixed in with typical Buster mechanisms, such as balloons, dams to catch fish, and boats that fly apart.  The short is almost absent of title cards, making it a smooth flowing short.  It's like the Buster Keaton version of WHOOPS, I'M AN INDIAN with an added romantic subplot.  The scene with Buster and the bears is precious, and he pulls other dangerous stunts throughout this.

    9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 04:27:55 PM »
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  • This is my favorite of Keaton's post-COPS silent shorts. The short's premise of Keaton in a survivalist situation allows for both a nice setting and some very funny gags as well, such as Keaton's canoe falling apart, the fish falling out of the creel, and Keaton trying to swim in shallow water. Keaton gets into many dangerous situations as well in this short, such as being stuck in the balloon without its bottom, the dam breaking, being stuck under his boat, and his run-in with the bears. These things once again add to the short's survivalist nature, which I like.

    Phyllis Haver is one of Keaton's better leading ladies. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that she's the only other major character in the short (this is one of the few shorts to not feature Joe Roberts) and, as a result, she gets to do a lot more. She saves Keaton's life and she even saves herself from the bull when Keaton turns out to be too inept to save her himself. While she's not my favorite of his leading ladies (that honor goes to Marceline Day), she's probably his most notable and she does help the short a lot as well.

    I really enjoy this short and can only hope that others enjoy it as much as I do.

    10 out of 10

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: September 21, 2017, 09:50:45 PM »
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  •       First off, yes, that indeed is Babe London!  Thirty years before Nora in SCRAMBLED BRAINS.

          Concerning Phyllis Haver, she was a Mack Sennett bathing beauty, no doubt what would have inspired her form fitting twenties style swimsuit.  I wonder what Sennett would have thought of the bikini?  Anyway, she actually had a decent career after this, if not Rene Adoree level, appearing in a later D.W. Griffith silent, THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES (which I saw years ago), and to my surprise was the leading lady in Lon Chaney's last silent film, THUNDER.  Being a huge Chaney film, no doubt I'd know her from THUNDER if it weren't for the fact the film is lost.  I agree she is one of the better Keaton leading ladies and it does have much to do with the fact she's given plenty to do, including a pleasant hot coffee scene, getting wet while grabbing fish, and having Keaton land on her accidentally a few times. 

          A very good film overall.  My one minor complaint is a bit more seems to be faked than normal for a Keaton film, though it had to be.  Talking the fake parachute falling down leading to the sloppy edit of Keaton and said chute falling from the tree, and Keaton going down a mini waterfall in a canoe where he lands head first in the water, feet in the air.  Minor complaints, as overall, the short is basically two lonely characters of the opposite sex eventually getting together in a natural outdoor setting with lots of physical comedy.  Keaton and the outdoors is always a calming thing for me to watch, puts a smile on my face.

          The standout scenes would have to be Keaton building the wall of rocks in the creek to both simultaneously block the fish and making river shallow so he can grab the fish.  A very cerebral and funny gag, and the wall of rocks eventually crashing as if the dam burst and Keaton getting flooded is a wonderful payoff.  Also major props towards the scene where Keaton does in two bears at once.  Keaton, unaware a bear is behind him, hits a bear in front of him with a rifle on its head.  The momentum of the blow leads the rifle where it's between his leg, barrel behind him going off and shooting the bear behind him, leading into this wonderful domino effect.

          I suppose the parachute/canoe going off the waterfall at the end is faked too, kind of has to be, but I'm not bothered in this instant because it's so bizarre I find the gag satisfying.  Back to the beginning, I do enjoy the house of horrors and that crazy chute that spits people out in the street.  Keaton's frightened body language to all boogie men behind the door is fantastic, and his curiosity with the chute leads to him getting squashed by Babe London, who brushes the fall off and goes back in!

          Another very good short, because like I've said, not one turkey in the entire Keaton silent era, in my opinion.

    9/10

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #3 on: September 24, 2017, 09:32:53 PM »
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  • Hey, Metal, congratulations on 6,000 posts !  Good lord, I despair of making even 1,000, and I've been at this for years !

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 08:36:48 PM »
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  • Hey, Metal, congratulations on 6,000 posts !  Good lord, I despair of making even 1,000, and I've been at this for years !

    Thanks man.  It took me over 15 years to get over 6,000.