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Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The General (1926) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by metaldams on Today at 06:34:27 PM »
      I'm going to start off with a bit of possible trivia.  I'll preface by saying I've seen THE GENERAL dozens of times, am a big fan of the actor I'm about to mention, and would like a second opinion on this, as this is the first time I've noticed what I'm about to say.  Watch the scene where the Union generals gather while Keaton is spying under the table midway through the film.  The actor who burns Keaton with the cigar....tell me that's not Boris Karloff.  It looks just like him.  I rewound several times to make sure and I believe it's Karloff.  This would make sense because this is five years before FRANKENSTEIN, and at this stage Karloff was an unknown playing small roles or supporting parts.  Going on, Karloff is listed, but with an "unconfirmed" next to his name.  I say it's him, what do you guys think?

      Second thing I want to do before getting to the meat of the review is mention something Paul touched on, and that's the Civil War aspect and culture.  I am 38 years old as of this writing, so we're only talking about 15 years or so when I watched THE GENERAL in a college classroom with no trouble at all, no disclaimers needed.  I can't imagine that today.  Paul, congrats on being a millenial who seems to have a nuanced view on the Civil War, understanding there were several important factors involved and it is more complicated than having anything but a one sided view against the South makes one a Nazi.  The Civil War was a travesty that deserves some serious thought, research, and more than a quick assumption.  I mention this because for several decades now, THE GENERAL has been hailed as Keaton's greatest work, but I can seriously see this changing over the next ten years due to Keaton helping the South in this film.  I hope it doesn't come to that, because THE GENERAL is truly an amazing film.

      From a pure filmmaking point of view, THE GENERAL is a beautiful looking film.  I've heard it said THE GENERAL comes the closest of all Civil War films to looking like a Matthew Brady photograph, a sentiment I agree with.  The natural outdoor scenery is beautiful, and the moving camera going along with the speed of those trains must have been a lot of work to accomplish.  Oh, and during the "Karloff scene," love that shot of Keaton's eye through the table cloth hole followed by Marion Mack (who does a great job in this film and is not afraid to get into the physical comedy), being seen through the same hole.  A wonderful bit of filmmaking there.  The battle scenes towards the end are also well done and I gotta mention the train being destroyed on the burning bridge.  That is considered to be the most expensive shot in silent cinema.  The wreckage from that scene I hear remained there for about 15 years until the metal was used during World War II.

      From a comedy perspective, again, it works.  I wonder if the humor was just too subtle amongst the drama and action for audiences of the day?  Either way, I got laughs for sure.  Those kids following Keaton in perfect harmony, even going around the half circle in sync with Keaton, made for some good humor.  Very mechanical yet humorous at the same time, something Jeaton often does.  Think of him following his rival in SHERLOCK, JR. for something similar.  Nothing tops the mechanical timing of that cannon going off the exact second it's at an angle where it can hit the enemy around the corner.  This is the kind of thing I have trouble explaining (I'm no Walter Kerr), but it's an amazingly timed physical gag.  Also gotta love that picture Keaton gives Marion Mack.  Just a stoned faced Kaeton in front of his train, ALWAYS gets a laugh out of me.  Again, words fail me, you just gotta see the picture, it's visual comedy.  Also love the way Keaton gets woken up while holding Marion Mack, an acorn falling on the head.  Another funny, subtle gag.

      The pure danger of this film is also remarkable.  I already mentioned how crazy it must have been for the cameraman with all that movement, well, same with Keaton!  The way he goes back and forth between fast moving cargo is breathtaking.  When Jackie Chan calls Keaton (and Lloyd), an influence, it's stuff like that you gotta imagine.  Also, how many creative things did they come up with to stop the train doing the chasing?  Water pipes, trees with ropes, the track being moved, the track being destroyed, setting fire to a cargo to block a train...loads of creativity here.

      Not really a criticism, because this observation doesn't bother me, but I've never heard anybody mention this before.  Whenever Keaton talks of his MGM films, he complains they're farces where one explanation to a character can solve the situation and the comedy is done.  While it wouldn't end the whole comedy, in THE GENERAL, if the recruiter simply told Keaton he's more valuable as an engineer to the South versus being a soldier, Keaton would have had an explanation to his girl and her family and the temporarily strained relationship would have been avoided.  Oh well, extreme nitpicking for a masterpiece, and I hope it continues to be hailed as one.

Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Shot in the Frontier (1954)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on Today at 11:17:20 AM »
I've thought this was a decent short but nothing to write home but I do like the outdoor western scenery and how this short has all new footage which was rare by this time period, this short has some good moments but the fighting/gun battle scenes went on way too long, Moe also doesn't seem to dish out much punishment either

Overall I give this short a 6/10
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: An Ache In Every Stake (1941)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on Today at 11:10:59 AM »
Very hilarious episode and one of my Top 10 favorite Stooge shorts, Curly is definitely at the top of his game in this short and it has one great moment after another, one of my favorite moments in this short that seems to get overlooked and hasn't been mentioned yet is when Moe puts the ice tongs in Larry's ears and tortures him with him, the look on both of their faces in that scene is hilarious! I've thought the dancing scene with the spring in the rear was just as great here as it was in the classic "Hoi Polloi"

I've thought Larry was given a little more to do here in this short than usual during this time period.

I give An Ache In Every Stake a perfect 10/10

Weekly Episode Discussions / The General (1926) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Paul Pain on Today at 07:51:20 AM »

Watch THE GENERAL in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

Imagine if you went to see a movie and saw incredible acting, intensely dramatic scenes, blythe moments of humor, accurate (albeit fictional still) depictions of a past era and a war fought in it, and a dynamic romantic subplot.  Every part of this movie is absolutely riveting and could hardly be more enrapturing.  And then you walk home and say, "This movie sucks.  I wanted to see a Buster Keaton gasser and instead got one of the greatest movies in history."  Read more here.

Well, folks, that's what the critics pretty much said of THE GENERAL.  Today widely acclaimed as one of the all-time greats, it was in its own day crucified by the movie critics for the crime of not being funny enough.  Even Keaton thought he was making a comedy and was denied the use of the real General on account of it.

But all those things I said in my first paragraph are true.  This movie has incredible acting top-to-bottom in ways I never imagined possible for such a film.  There are some breath-taking moments, such as Buster in the Union occupied house at night, when he's on the train, during the battle, and approaching the bridge.  It has humor when Buster is trying to register for the service and when he's riding the cowcatcher.  It provides an accurate depiction of what almost every Union and Rebel soldier fought for: their honor, their families, and what they believed was right (doesn't make it right).  Honestly, read up on tariffs, slavery, and States' rights, the three big issues in the lead-up to the Civil War.  Add in to this the romantic subplot, and I find absolutely nothing wrong with this film except that maybe some of the chase scenes are a bit long for some people's taste.

As an Italian-American raised in the North and now living in the South, this movie speaks volumes to me.  We have potential for some great insights on this one, so please ask lots of questions!

11/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Cash and Carry (1937)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on November 17, 2017, 10:21:57 PM »
One of my Top 10 favorite Curly shorts, I loved how we get a chance to see the tender and more compassionate side of the Stooges yet they still remain their funny selves, I also loved the digging scenes where Larry and Curly were constantly hitting Moe with the tools (although by accident) along with the scene where a beam falls on Moe's neck while his head was inside the wall, I've thought the ending was one of the happiest we get to see in a Stooges short (I love movies and shows with happy endings).

This short gets a 10/10 for me, also wasn't this Elwood Ullman's first short he wrote for the Three Stooges?
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Some More of Samoa (1941)
« Last post by metaldams on November 17, 2017, 10:19:37 PM »
"Some More Of Samoa" was one short I've initially thought was an average Stooge short when I've first seen it, several years later I grew to appreciate the humor and the greatness of the short and it's now a near classic, I loved the bit where Moe tells Larry to put his foot in the alligator's mouth and Larry refuses and Moe tells him to take the lower half and like it or Larry literally picking up the tracks (footprints), I've thought the second half of the short features some of Larry's best performances during the Curly era.

Overall I give this short a 9/10

I had the same reaction upon reviewing...pre-conceived notion of it being average, only to find I like it a lot better than I remember.  Welcome to the board.
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The Three Troubledoers (1946)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on November 17, 2017, 10:19:00 PM »
A mediocre Curly episode but not as bad as "Beer Barrel Polecats", I didn't think Curly looked as sick in this one like he did in some of the stooge shorts of this period, Moe and Larry also don't seem to have a lot of energy either, I've thought Dick Curtis and Christine McIntyre did a good job with their roles, overall I give this short a 4 out of 10
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: G.I. Wanna Home (1946)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on November 17, 2017, 10:07:42 PM »
I've thought Curly seemed more lively and energetic in this short than he did in the two previous episodes "Monkey Businessmen" and "Three Loan Wolves" although he wasn't given a whole lot to do, I think "G.I. Wanna Home" is one of the better post-stroke Curly episodes and thought this short had a lot of great moments like Larry poking a needle on Curly's bottom, Curly pulling the Stooges "car", Curly trying to take a bite of his sandwich, the scene where Larry falls off a tree and lands on Moe, Moe's reaction to Larry falling off of a tree, some random guy ruining the stooges "home" with a tractor
and the bunkbeds scene (which I've thought was as great as it was in "In The Sweet Pie And Pie" and "I Can Hardly Wait", I've thought Curly does a good job in this short despite his illness but Moe and Larry really carry most the short together

An 8 out of 10 for me (this short ties with "Three Little Pirates as the best short from 1946)
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Outer Space Jitters (1957)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on November 17, 2017, 10:01:00 PM »
I don't understand the hatred people have towards this short, I've thought this was an average Besser short, the best moment is when Moe rubs a wooden sander on Larry's head and a bunch of sand is falling out, that is something that is commonly seen during the Curly/Shemp era, too bad it wasn't Joe Besser who went through that kind of abuse.

Overall I give this short a 5/10, not as bad as most of the other Besser shorts of this era IMO.
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Quiz Whizz (1958)
« Last post by Woe-ee-Woe-Woe80 on November 17, 2017, 09:52:52 PM »
The best Joe Besser stooge short IMO, for some reason this short has more of a 1950's Shemp feel to it than your typical Joe Besser short, plus this short has a plot that involves crooks which is something you rarely got to see during the Joe Besser era, plus Besser takes a decent amount of punishment in this one, for those who don't like Joe Besser all that much should check out this short, I consider this short to be on par with the average Curly/Shemp stooge short, I agree with many that Milton Frome's performance was weak although he would be horrible in "Pies And Guys", that was the only downside to this short.

Overall I give this short an 8 out of 10
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