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Author Topic: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton  (Read 180 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 08, 2017, 05:02:16 AM »
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  • Watch OUR HOSPITALITY in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:
    http://www.busterkeaton.com/Films/C03_Our_Hospitality.html

    Let me start this by saying that it's difficult to find 75 minutes in my life where I can watch a Buster film.  I am at the 50 minute mark, and I have loved every minute so far with several laugh-out-loud moments.  I have already seen signs of Clyde Bruckman's dangerous plagiarism/recycling methods that permeated his career, and will discuss further when I make my complete review.

    That train ride?  It could have been made into its own movie, I think; that thing was HILARIOUS.  The bumps, the sudden stops, the sleeping bugler, and the sudden switch to the pork pie hat are all elements that turn this into a streak of laughter.

    The opening scenes are brilliantly dramatic and work to great effect to set the stage of this work as a dramedy of sorts.

    The stunts Buster pulls to avoid getting shot are fantastic and really set prove himself as a movie comedian.  As I've said, I really connect to Buster because his mannerisms are like my personal reactions to real life situations.  He really pulls every trick in the book on the Canfields, and their reactions to him are funny.  The best, though, is when Buster takes the gun, fires all the bullets, and then walks out to get the music for Natalie.

    The chase is awesomely funny and dramatic.  Buster's rock climb is heart-racing, and the title cards at this juncture are comedy gold.  The bounce down the rock face is incredible, and the ensuing chase brings out all the strengths in Buster and the cast.  The scenes at the end with Buster and Natalie were dazzling and really brought the work together.  The end scene when the Canfield's lay their guns down (after noticing the gun cabinet cleaned out) only for Buster to pull out all the guns.

    To top it all off, we have a fantastic supporting cast who's all on their top game, except for Joe Roberts who gives as good a performance someone as ill he was could give.

    10/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

    More to come; have at it, folks.
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 07:27:01 PM »
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  • I feel that Roger Ebert put it best when he referred to OUR HOSPITALITY as Keaton’s first masterpiece. Considering that this is technically Keaton’s first feature as a director (since THREE AGES was basically three shorts put together), it’s interesting how he started on such a high note.

    The opening contains a back-story that’s pretty dramatic and actually done pretty well. For authenticity’s sake, Buster Keaton, Jr. plays the role that his father would take over later in the film. The lighting, staging, and acting all are top-notch and set a very different standard compared to Keaton’s shorts. Even Joe Roberts gets an emotional moment when his brother dies and he pulls it off very well.

    We next see Keaton as an adult and his trip back to his father’s estate leads to a series of visual gags involving a train. It’s truly amazing how many different gags they can do with it and still have it be funny. Joe Keaton and James Duffy both are very funny as characters that are inept at their jobs and they make some pretty good expressions as well. There’s also a funny gag involving Keaton having to revert back to using his signature pork pie hat. It’s as though Keaton was unwilling to give it up yet, despite the move to features.

    Once they’re in the town, much of the humor comes from the Canfield family being unable to shoot Keaton and his obliviousness to this. I particularly like when Keaton ends up under a dam that’s blown up and the water blocks him from the Canfields. It’s especially funny because of his inability to catch a fish. There’s also a really good visual gag of Keaton imagining a large home, only for it to be blown up once he discovers the truth about the house.

    The comical situation of Keaton being stuck in the Canfield home is very creative. Keaton makes funny situations with his uneasiness, such as when he’s stalling to leave the house or when he has to get the sheet music. I also like how he tricks them into chasing after him when in reality he re-entered the house.

    Natalie Talmadge does a good job as the female romantic lead. She is put into an interesting situation when she has to decide between Keaton or her family values and she even tries to save Keaton from the waterfall. Speaking of the waterfall, man is that an intense finale! When Keaton is saving Talmadge from the waterfall, even though that’s a dummy of Talmadge, that actually is Keaton doing the stunt. It’s nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time.

    This will unfortunately be the last time we see Joe Roberts, as he died shortly before it was released, and sadly his failing health is notable at times. As I mentioned before, though, Roberts actually is able to give a pretty good dramatic performance, including the end when he decides to accept Keaton as part of his family. It makes me wonder how he would have done in Keaton’s other features.

    OUR HOSPITALITY is a wonderful film. Keaton was able to take his comedy skills and combine it with a story that keeps me entertained until the very end. Keaton set a very high standard with this film, one that he was still able to meet many times as the 1920’s progressed.

    10 out of 10

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 12:20:41 AM »
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  •       Quick note about the leading lady Natalie Talmadge that deserves mentioning is that she was Buster's real life wife at the time and pregnant with their child.  She was the least famous of the Talmadge sisters, the others being Constance and Norma.  Forgotten today except by hardcore silent film fanatics, they were the Khardashians of their day, just with more talent and without synthetic backsides.

          OUR HOSPITALITY is indeed the first feature film masterpiece Buster made of many.  Unlike the shorts and THREE AGES, Buster was able to to combine dramatic storytelling and drama together with the feeling comedy was king yet the story was real.  Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd have already set this precedent with THE KID (1921) and GRANDMA'S BOY (1922) respectively.  Keaton followed suite.  As far as drama goes, the first seven or eight minutes is complete drama, setting up the story perfectly of the feuding Canfields and McKays, and obvious play on Hatfields and McCoys.

          The first comic bits are Buster riding a big bike without pedals, essentially maneuvering the bike with his legs, a wonderful sight gag words don't do justice.  It eventually leads into the first big set piece....that wonderful train that looks like a giant toy that's going to fall apart any minute.  No doubt preceding THE GENERAL as far as trains go, the difference here, other than the already mentioned toy effect versus the realism of THE GENERAL, is the train sequence is played 100% for laughs here at a slow pace, where it's laughs and drama with a real train and fast pace in THE GENERAL....and man are there laughs.  Love the homeless guy throw rocks at the train in order to get Fire wood thrown back at him for him to use, very clever!  The hat gag where Buster bumps his head on the train is fantastic, one because that giant hat is visually funny, two the tallness of the hat causing discomfort in a low ceiling bumpy car is clever, and three it gives Buster an excuse to break out the trademark pork pie hat, much smaller and convenient.    The compartments of the train becoming disjointed in creative ways, the dog gag, Monte Collins, Sr. falling off the back of the train....just tons of funny stuff with a wonderfully scenic back drop, live the train stuff.

          Buster in the home of the Canfields is also wonderfully milked for all its comic potential.  Basically, the Canfields feel the need to be hospitable when Buster's in their home as a guest of their daughter/sister (hence the title), but the men will kill Buster the second he steps out to keep the family feud going.  So the gags revolve around Buster staying in the home in as many ways possible and trying to escape. Love the bit where he delays leaving by doing tricks with that dog.  Such wonderful chemistry working with that animal.  Also dig it when they're saying grace and Buster has one eye open, each Canfield man staring at Buster with one eye open as well.  Wonderfully acted by all involved and wonderfully edited.

          The chase at the end has some incredible moments, including the rope gag on the cliff with one of the Canfield brothers that involves said brother and Buster taking a huge fall into the river below.  Buster again milks being tied to the other brother on a long rope for all it's worth, finding several ways to avoid being shot and escaping the brother.  The stuff where Buster is in the flowing river and waterfall is incredibly dangerous and amazing to watch.  Buster taking bumps and hanging on for dear life.  Buster was really in water and nothing was faked like this kind of thing would have been in most other films with close ups and rear projection (or today, CGI).  Real risk and skill involved.  Classic gag where Buster swings down the waterfall and grabs Natalie as she's falling down the waterfall mid air.  So what if it was a dummy he grabbed still and amazingly timed feat.  Jackie Chan calls Buster and influence and it's stuff like this that makes me see why.

          Yes, we say goodbye to Big Joe Roberts, who passed away only months after this filming after suffering a series of strokes, the first after production started.  Sad, as he was too young and a great heavy for Keaton who would have made Buster's films even better.

          An absolute classic film that would be the best for just about anybody, but Buster somehow found ways to top this one.

    10/10

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 10:09:38 AM »
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  • How did we all review this without mentioning Buster's version of "New York City, 1830"?????
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 07:48:18 PM »
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  • How did we all review this without mentioning Buster's version of "New York City, 1830"?????

          I'm not sure if Buster was being serious or not, but my guess is that was another D.W. Griffith parody.  Griffith did the same historical accuracy thing on the bottom of title cards, (i.e. based on a print or painting or photograph or whatever), in a lot of his films.  The Lincoln assasination scene in BIRTH OF A NATION comes to mind.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 04:56:37 AM »
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  •       I'm not sure if Buster was being serious or not, but my guess is that was another D.W. Griffith parody.  Griffith did the same historical accuracy thing on the bottom of title cards, (i.e. based on a print or painting or photograph or whatever), in a lot of his films.  The Lincoln assasination scene in BIRTH OF A NATION comes to mind.

    I think he was just being goofy as those kinds of cards were common as dirt in that era.
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