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Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The High Sign (1921) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by metaldams on Today at 09:01:09 AM »
      Yes, this is the first filmed Keaton short that was initially shelved and then released when he needed to buy some time after injuring his ankle while filming THE ELECTRIC HOUSE.  Can I see why this was shelved?  I suppose.  It has the strange distinction of at times not feeling like a Keaton film yet at other times feeling totally like a Keaton film, and I can understand wanting to get his first effort just right.  There was a back up plan for his first feature too, but we'll get to that later.

      So what about this film is not Keaton like?  Well, yeah, the supporting cast.  The cast of bad guys especially have the feel of a Mack Sennett film, a bit cartoonish at times.  The gag towards the end where the bandit's head gets caught in the door, and his eyes are blackened with a ham fisted face is very cartoonish and not the kind of thing you'd normally see out of Keaton.  The whole gag where Keaton ties the dog on a string attached to a bell to set up that his shots are hitting his target is essentially a sound gag.  Silent film works best with visual humor.  Also, when Keaton fools the audience, does not slip on the banana peel and does that hand signal (a.k.a. The High Sign), to the audience, Keaton breaks the fourth wall.  Subsequent films Keaton never acknowledges the audience, and there will be a part in next week's short where this is all too clear. 

      Sound gag aside, these things aren't inherently bad, just un Keaton like.  Some great stuff in this short as well.  The never ending unfolding newspaper is classic, as is Keaton's fall while standing on the bench.  Keaton hanging his hat and jacket on the wall where nothing is there is standard Keaton, and him later painting a hanger on the wall that works is a nice touch.  The obvious highlight of the short, though, is the booby trapped house that shows off both the cerebral (in the thought it takes to get done), mixing with the physical (the obvious skill it takes to pull such stunts off).  Just a brilliant final few minutes and the kind of holy shit moment we come to expect watching prime Keaton.

      For a guy finding himself as an artist, fantastic stuff. 

Weekly Episode Discussions / The High Sign (1921) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Paul Pain on Today at 04:42:10 AM »

Watch THE HIGH SIGN in the link above.

Well, we have Buster Keaton's solo debut finally in theaters everywhere!  Keaton considered this an inferior effort and shelved, but he was forced to release it while recovering from injuries suffered while filming.  And I can see why he hated it: the supporting cast.  Bartine Burkett Zane is the worst female cast member we'll see in any past or future Keaton films, with acting that makes one wonder if she hated her job or something.  Charles Dorety is, among others, too doused in makeup to seem like a legit villain; he belongs in a seedy 1940s Broadway production.

The plot is exceptionally well done, however, with gadgets and machines everywhere.  The use of gadgets, in fact, dominates the short.

More to come...
General Discussion / Re: The Worst Stooge Shorts There Never Were
« Last post by Paul Pain on June 23, 2017, 07:38:03 AM »
Ever hear of the HAL ROACH ALL-STAR COMEDY series?  Well, Columbia tried this off and on from the 1930s to the early 1950s, and the results were stuffed in Grant's Tomb.

A HOUSEHOLD OF HAUNTS involved The Three Stooges (their first appearance in one of these), Joe Besser, Schilling and Lane, Herbert and Dickerson, Vernon and Quillan, and Andy Clyde.  The result was a disaster as The Stooges and Clyde refused to be in any shared scenes with the other groups except for the ending, and Herbert thought this beneath him and was uncooperative.  This is basically a scare comedy, with Gus Schilling, Wally Vernon, and Dudley Dickerson having some great moments that makes one wonder if they could have been a second "Three Stooges."  The rest is full of choppy scenes as The Stooges, Clyde, and Herbert appear in their scenes alone (Herbert with Dickerson once) interspersed with other appearances; doubles covered by sheets or otherwise obscured had to play any spooks seen by them.  The ending scene was a great success, and the actors all regretted their stubbornness only for Jules White to can the series after this one.
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Paul Pain on June 23, 2017, 07:26:42 AM »
When I first watched this film, the fish and bullet gags stood out clearly to me.  Keep in mind Clyde Bruckman...
General Discussion / Replacement Stooge Legacy
« Last post by Giff me dat fill-em! on June 22, 2017, 04:39:59 PM »
I have been a fan of this site for EONS ... IS there a category, topic, thread, etc, that lists the replacement stooges as ... wait, nevermind, what a DUMB question. WERE THEY EVER CALLED "The Replacement Stooges" except by US, the adoring fans of ANYTHING Stooge related?
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by metaldams on June 22, 2017, 01:20:44 PM »
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.

General Discussion / Re: Ask Team Stooge **NEWBIES**
« Last post by Bill S. on June 22, 2017, 12:39:57 AM »
Thank you. That's too bad. To clarify, were the Marx & Ritz Brothers not in any scenes together either?
General Discussion / Three Stooges .net Login
« Last post by Kopfy2013 on June 21, 2017, 11:04:39 AM »
Are we ever going to be able to log into again so that we can rate and see what are ratings were for all the Stooge Productions.  At one time you could do this and it was fun to see how my ratings ranked with the others.
Questions and Answers / Re: The Stooges on Epic Records???
« Last post by dbeatlefreak on June 20, 2017, 02:04:41 PM »
Good info. Thank you!
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Umbrella Sam on June 20, 2017, 08:43:43 AM »
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.
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