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Topics - Paul Pain

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Yes, it's another Stooge Short Tournament!  It's the best I could do for now.  The pool was narrowed as many Stooge shorts don't have a villain, or the villain only is around briefly.  These are shorts with an actual villain whom the Stooges must defeat with their wit and slapstick.  For your benefit, I have linked the discussion to each respective short from metaldams' reviews.   In case of a tie, I'll... figure something out.  The winners advance to the "Round of 32."  Seedings here are based on the rankings from some previous date, and they were randomly scrambled for this first round (which had 95 in it).  The DeRita movies are also included in this.  Vote for your favorite Stooge villain from each set.  Yes, some of these are in here for pure laughs, if you can see why I'd include those gassers. ;D

36 The gas station robbers in SLAPHAPPY SLEUTHS vs. 89 Borscht in COMMOTION ON THE OCEAN vs. 2 Hassan & Ahmed in THREE ARABIAN NUTS
51 Dr. Jekyll in SPOOKS! vs. 57 Jane in GYPPED IN THE PENTHOUSE vs. 86 Badlands Blackie in THE THREE TROUBLEDOERS
55 Borscht in DUNKED IN THE DEEP vs. 3 Rocky Duggan in GENTS IN A JAM vs. 21 Paul Pain in A PAIN IN THE PULLMAN
48 Mergatroyd in FIDDLERS THREE vs. 30 The Count and his lady in THREE LITTLE SEW AND SEWS vs. 7 Ichabod Slipp in HOLD THAT LION!
34 General Buttz and Bloodhound Filbert in UNCIVIL WARRIORS vs. 52 Octupus Grabus in MATRI-PHONY vs. 14 Angus, Lorna Doone, and MacPherson in HOT SCOTS, THE
67 Prince Boris in RESTLESS KNIGHTS vs. 1 The Phantom Gang in WHO DONE IT? vs. 27 Moe Hailstone and his men in I'LL NEVER HEIL AGAIN
11 Dapper Malone in CRIME ON THEIR HANDS vs. 42 Indian Chief in ROCKIN' THRU THE ROCKIES vs. 94 Grand Zilch in OUTER SPACE JITTERS
77 Professor Panzer in A BIRD IN THE HEAD vs. 43 Axis spies in NO DOUGH BOYS vs. 45 Lefty Loomis and his gang in OF CASH AND HASH
59 Butch and his men in UP IN DAISY'S PENTHOUSE vs. 72 Japanese internment camp escapees in THE YOKE'S ON ME vs. 84 Big Mike in FLING IN THE RING
70 The Black Prince in KNUTZY KNIGHTS vs. 20 Ichabod Slipp in LOOSE LOOT vs. 4 Sergeant Dare in BOOBS IN ARMS
17 Nazi officers in BACK FROM THE FRONT vs. 73 Doc Mallard in MONKEY BUSINESSMEN vs. 78 Terry Hargen in RIP, SEW, AND STITCH
32 The Killer Dillons in PUNCHY COWPUNCHERS vs. 93 Larry in TRIPLE CROSSED vs. 16 Sergeant MacGillicuddy in HALF SHOT SHOOTERS
5 The Axis spies in THEY STOOGE TO CONGA vs. 69 Ichabod Slipp in BOOTY AND THE BEAST vs. 66 Mergatroyd in MUSTY MUSKETEERS
71 Butch McGee and his gang in THREE LOAN WOLVES vs. 92 Jose in SAPPY BULL FIGHTERS vs. 10 Professor Potter in DOPEY DICKS
53 Jose Sanchez in WHAT'S THE MATADOR? vs. 79 The computer in HAVE ROCKET -- WILL TRAVEL vs. 25 Double Deal Decker in HORSES' COLLARS
80 Montgomery M. Montgomery in QUIZ WHIZZ vs. 82 The Amazons in SPACE SHIP SAPPY vs. 15 The Eel in BLUNDER BOYS
61 Mr. Wycoff in DON'T THROW THAT KNIFE vs. 26 The opposing cavemen in I'M A MONKEY'S UNCLE vs. 24 Moe Hailstone and his men in YOU NAZTY SPY!
50 Muggsy, Red, and Bill in HUGS AND MUGS vs. 56 Pierre in WHOOPS, I'M AN INDIAN! vs. 60 Larry in HE COOKED HIS GOOSE
74 Doc Barker… and Pete?!?!?! in PALS AND GALS vs. 75 Ogg and Zogg in THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT vs. 33 Bill Wick and Digger in THREE DARK HORSES
13 Jewel thieves in A SNITCH IN TIME vs. 18 Futamon (Phil Van Zandt) in MUMMY'S DUMMIES vs. 64 The Phantom Gang in FOR CRIMIN' OUT LOUD
65 Angus, Lorna Doone, and MacPherson in SCOTCHED IN SCOTLAND vs. 83 Dapper Malone in HOT ICE vs. 19 Mabel in CORNY CASANOVAS
37 Escaped convicts in PARDON MY BACKFIRE vs. 6 Flint & Prince Shaam in CRASH GOES THE HASH vs. 87 Mr. and Mrs. Allen in SCHEMING SCHEMERS
95 The blasted horse in HORSING AROUND vs. 8 The Black Prince in SQUAREHEADS OF THE ROUND TABLE vs. 23 Big Mike in FRIGHT NIGHT
49 Boss, Butch, and Spike in NUTTY BUT NICE vs. 9 Jackson (Dick Curtis) in WE WANT OUR MUMMY vs. 44 Lefty Loomis and his gang in SHIVERING SHERLOCKS
35 Joe Stacks in THREE LITTLE PIGSKINS vs. 62 The Noonan Gang in SHOT IN THE FRONTIER vs. 88 The Witch Queen in SNOW WHITE AND THE THREE STOOGES
29 Longhorn Pete in GOOFS AND SADDLES vs. 31 Mr. Dill and the gorilla in DIZZY DETECTIVES vs. 41 Mr. and Mrs. Allen in VAGABOND LOAFERS
47 Lupe the Wolf Man in IDLE ROOMERS vs. 58 Vickers Cavendish in THE THREE STOOGES GO AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE vs. 90 Mabel in RUSTY ROMEOS
22 Murray Alper in TRICKY DICKS vs. 28 Nazi officers in HIGHER THAN A KITE vs. 76 Rance Roden and the Outlaws in THE OUTLAWS IS COMING
46 Doc Barker and his men in OUT WEST vs. 40 Varanu in HULA-LA-LA vs. 54 Red Morgan and his gang in PHONY EXPRESS
12 Terry Hargen in SING A SONG OF SIX PANTS vs. 91 The horse in HOOFS AND GOOFS vs. 63 King Oedious in THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES
38 Red and Stumpy in CACTUS MAKES PERFECT vs. 81 Svengarlic and his henchmen in FLAGPOLE JITTERS vs. 85 Gorilla-Sitka in BUBBLE TROUBLE
68 Red Morgan and his gang in MERRY MAVERICKS vs. 39 Tony & Duke in CALLING ALL CURS

Weekly Episode Discussions / Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) - Buster Keaton
« on: December 03, 2017, 05:24:12 AM »

Watch STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

Well, we have reached the end of Phase 2 of our journey.  Starting next weekend, metaldams will take over the reviews business starting with Buster's first MGM feature, THE CAMERAMAN.  I won't be without projects, though, as I plan to continue either with Buster's Columbia shorts or some reasonable facsimile thereof.  I'll take next weekend off from reviews while I organize a special Stooge related Christmas surprise that I hope to post on Wednesday's.

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. is a satirical little film, to say the least.  The constant theme of a gruff (often lousy) but still loving father [and the contrast using doting mother, where applicable] leads me to believe this must be reflective of the real Keaton household.  Much of this short revolves around this theme of father-son relationships.

There is an extended hat choosing gag (akin to Curly's) that, naturally, includes Buster trying on his traditional porkpie hat, but, for a change, choosing a more period appropriate hat.  We see some typical Buster incompetence with running the steamship until finally Bill, Sr. is sent to jail (the whole condemning the boat stuff is a bit ludicrous given the lack of such laws at the time).  From here on, it's the typical Buster fare to the end.

The storm is all the stuff we love, but, as usual, we see Buster using the skills he failed to learn before to save the day (much like his running scene in COLLEGE).  Some of the stunts during the hurricane are breathtaking, and it's fact that Buster could have been hurt or killed doing some of these scenes, one of which is a more dangerous version of a scene from BACK STAGE.

The ending when he jumps into the water and returns with a priest is a perfect little end to an excellent film.

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / College (1927) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 28, 2017, 05:41:26 PM »

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

I apologize for getting this out so late.  This was a sobering film given its pretty realistic representation of how my college works: athletes do whatever they wish, and you're a piece of $#¡+ if you aren't an athlete or a frat/sorority person.  I literally went through 6 years of college friendless because I wasn't one of those two things.

This film has too many plot holes to describe adequately.  It actually was aggravating to watch this film for the first 30 minutes, but watching Buster's athletic feats was great.  The boat race was done perfectly from my opinion as someone who has watched collegiate boat races.


7/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / The General (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 18, 2017, 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 / Battling Butler (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 12, 2017, 03:31:41 PM »

[ Invalid YouTube link ]

Watch BATTLING BUTER in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

I screwed up; I thought this weekend was THE GENERAL.  It wasn't.  Thread's up though!

I thoroughly enjoyed BATTLING BUTLER in spite of its shortcomings.  The opening scenes, in spite of the theater origins of this film, are classic Buster.  Only Buster (or maybe Charlie Chaplin) could have a servant take the ashes off of his cigarette for him.  The theme of Snitz Edwards "arranging it" throughout the film is, to me, a great little motif.

Buster's definition of "roughing it" is absolutely precious.  That setup had: counters, sink, running water, dressers, mirrors, and even a table.  The scene where Buster and Sally O'Neil slouch on the table is definitely a comic highlight.  Overall, Buster always is at his best when up against towering figures, like the girl's father and brother.  It's fun to see the childish love go both ways in a Buster film for once.  His scenes with fishing and hunting are quite funny and work nicely to establish the romantic subplot.  Even later, he handles himself in true Buster fashion when dealing with Mrs. Battling Butler.

The negatives: I really don't like the whole setup with Buster and the boxer's wife... it's too farfetched and ridiculous for a Buster film.  It's even worse than the ridiculousness of the girl's father not figuring out that Buster isn't a boxer.  And both aren't as bad as douchebag setting up Buster like that in the first place.  It's not perfect, as we've all said.

Buster's boxing scenes are fabulous.  I thought these were on part with Shemp's in FRIGHT NIGHT/FLING IN THE RING, although Shemp has the benefit of sound to make it more memorable.  But it's CLYDE BRUCKEMAN plagiarism, after all.  The battle between Buster and Butler, though, was absolutely phenomenal.  Buster, in a rarity, shows personality, particularly honor, anger, and passion, here, which he had never done before.  It's an amazingly dramatic moment interspersed with reminds of the films comedy base that creates an incredible climax. 

In spite of its shortcomings, this climax generates a higher rating out of me.

9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / Go West (1925) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 05, 2017, 03:58:40 PM »

Watch SEVEN CHANCES in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

Sorry for not getting this up sooner... I've been a busy boy this weekend.

GO WEST is definitely the most unique film we have seen yet, but it's one of the funniest too.  The concept of Buster being friends with a cow is only possible in Busterverse.

The opening scenes are that awesome, typical Buster fare, particularly the train ride.  The faces he makes as he's too timid to tell the store owner that he is getting screwed by said owner is awesome, especially as the owner makes him buy back all his stuff at exorbitant prices.  Here we find the only flaw in the film when that b¡+©# sleaze wench steals his money and sticks that stupid flower in his hand.

The rest of the film is entertaining in its fun way.  This film must have been a hit with the kids in its day.  Buster in the barrel is a great transition to the wild west, where he fails as a cowhand.  He truly lives it up to his name "Friendless" here.  Buster really does great interacting with Brown Eyes, and it must have been a lot of work to get this to work.  In a way, it's cute to see the cow following him everywhere.

The poker game is another great moment, especially the smiling joke mentioned by Umbrella Sam.  The disgusted look the other gambler gives after that minute-long standoff is good and undervalued in this film.  Then Buster's face when he goes by the camera while on the train, which led to a fantastic Buster-style train ride as well.

The girl.  It's funny to, after so long, have Kathleen Myers here.  For the first time, it's the girl unable to admit she loves Buster, as shown by her face when she sees the train leaving after failing to get the money to Buster.  This leads to the closing gag.

The cow chase is great, but the best part is the black guy (I wish I knew his name) on the cow because he makes it look like the cow is trying to buck him and really looks scared.  He earned his money.  The rest of the chase is entertaining.  The ranch owner suddenly in a car, the first in the film, is a nice intro to the anachronistic world of Buster Keaton.

And the closing gag... great stuff.


Weekly Episode Discussions / Seven Chances (1925) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 28, 2017, 08:04:30 AM »

Watch SEVEN CHANCES in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

Required reading:

Now, I haven't watched this movie yet but hope to do so tonight.  I want to say that I haven't watch it yet because I dread it terribly.  Read my reviews in the posted threads, as BRIDELESS GROOM was another work of CLYDE BRUCKMAN plagiarism.  I hate BRIDELESS GROOM and HUSBANDS BEWARE, so I am fearful and hopeful for this.

So, I watched it, and it wasn't too bad.  The opening was pretty good.  Watching the lawyer's effort to reach Keaton was quite humorous.

The "seven chances" was funny at parts and lackluster at others.  Somewhere around here I fell asleep briefly and had to rewind multiple times.  The stupidity of Jimmie not getting Mary's call really was mind-numbing.  The first 35 minutes were slow, almost humorless, and illogical.  At this point, we're at a "BURN IN HELL" rating.

Then Buster wakes up, and the minister opens his big, fat mouth.  And things get REALLY good.  Even the bridal chase defies logic.  But this chase was hilarious and heart-stopping.  This was by far the best part of the movie and one of the best parts of any Buster film we've reviewed thus far.

I need a drink.

5/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Navigator (1924) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 21, 2017, 07:30:19 AM »

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

I hate to be down on Buster, but dang this one was a disappointment.  As a comedy, it falls flat in many regards for me, and as a non-comedy it falls flat as well.

The opening scene is classic Buster fare.  His taking the bath in that weird tub while still wearing his robe is quite endearing, as his flippancy.  Only in Buster's mind is it a good idea to plan the honeymoon before she says "Yes."  Having Kathy McGuire here helps as well, because she clearly is now familiar with his style of delivery and his overall comedic atmosphere.  I must point out his "Long walk that will do him good" was brilliant.

The pier scenes are again good but not comedic.   Again, only Buster could be deceived by the open gate and walk on a boat that has no crew all while suspecting nothing.  The scenes with the goons on the dock is dramatic and well done... and then the next.

The next 10 minutes is absolutely and insufferably boring.  No laughs or drama will be found here.  I found it tedious until they start cooking, where their spoiled-brathood comes out.  The scenes with them trying to sleep and getting spooked are great stuff, and then tedium...

The balloon swordfish battle was awesome, especially with it ending with Buster popping the other fish balloon.

The whole cannibals thing was cute at first, but it would have been over for good after the first firecracker was thrown at them.  I've read many books involving such peoples.  Who can spot the plagiarism warning at the end?

Some good; some bad; not a film to show to a newbie.

7/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / Sherlock Jr. (1924) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 14, 2017, 05:13:24 AM »

Watch SHERLOCK JR. in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

SHERLOCK JR. is like the Keaton version of BEAU HUNKS; it's a really long short subject, because it feels too short to be a complete movie.  Unlike last week's film, this week's features comedy and feats of engineering over plot.  And the plot's good too!

The opening scenes help to nicely set up the sliminess of the villain while also introducing us to diminutive Buster, who has to rely on his wit as always.  Ward Crane was a star of the day, so having him in this film added to Buster's own credence.

The devices and mechanical gags in this film are almost innumerable: the water pipe (which broke Buster's neck), the hatchet, the billiard game (Clyde Bruckman plagiarism warning), the crossing arm, the motorcycle, the jumping-through-a-hoop-into-a-dress, the fence, the car, etc. all work in astounding ways to astonish the viewer with their sheer brilliance.

It's classic Buster fare, folks.

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 08, 2017, 05:02:16 AM »

Watch OUR HOSPITALITY in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

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.

Weekly Episode Discussions / Three Ages (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: September 30, 2017, 07:43:41 AM »

Watch THREE AGES in the box above and get the Damfino's note here:

We enter Buster Keaton's first true starring film appearance.  And what a difference it makes!  This is a restored film, and damage is evident.

The concept of the "Three Ages" was a brilliant one, as it allowed Buster the freedom to make three themed shorts should the box office be a flop.  But it wasn't!

We see Buster the comic engineer at work here, with the dinosaur model and such stuff.  We have Buster the animal friend, as seen with the dinosaur, elephant, and sled dogs.  He, really, does it all.  This is the full assortment of Buster stuff, really, and it's all brilliant.

We have a fantastic supporting cast here in the form of Wallace Beery, Margaret Leahy, and Joe Roberts.  This is the 100% package as everyone plays their role to perfection.

The plot is everything typical of Buster: a young man seeking love and battling against stereotypical manliness to win.  The reptition of the themes isn't tiresome and pieced together well.

The bad: Wallace Beery's character is a bit too slimy to be an acceptable villain for my tastes.  I don't want Phil Van Zandt, but Joe Roberts is at least funny while being a jerk toward Buster.  Also, Buster plays a lousy, almost Stooge-like drunk, and there are some plot holes that just don't quite make sense in the flow of the film.  Perhaps it's the Clyde Bruckman effect.

Overall, a respectable first effort.

9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Love Nest (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: September 23, 2017, 06:57:30 PM »

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

Does anybody like the Youtube box I post every week?  This short is a precious way to end the second phase of our journey.  We may or may not include his Educational shorts; that's TBD.

The basic concept is that Keaton is escaping spurned love on a dreamy journey.  His misadventures are hilarious as he has run-in after run-in with Joe Roberts.  Somehow, though, he endears himself to escape the murderous fate or his shipmates.  Even he gets murderous and murdered in Stooge fashion!

Great moments: sealing the envelope with his tears, the shoe polish beard, Buster throwing the wreaths, playing solitaire after killing Roberts to sink the ship, and his post-awakening realizations.

Sorry, but I love this short.

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Balloonatic (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: September 16, 2017, 05:15:16 PM »

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

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]

Weekly Episode Discussions / Day Dreams (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: September 02, 2017, 11:37:52 AM »

Watch DAY DREAMS in the link above and get the Damfino's note here:

Phase 2 of our journey is winding down... two more after this!  This is, sadly, a partially lost short, with many important scenes being unfound as of today.  As such, my review reflects what we do have.

This short combines the usual Keatonian themes: love, mechanisms, and chases.  What we have here is presentable, but disjointed because of the missing scenes.  But it is the usual top notch Keaton material.  The episodic nature of this short is its strength as it is impeccably done.  The imagined-to-reality contrasts do quite well, and this short certainly was of great entertainment to those who saw it 95 years ago.

9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Electric House (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: August 26, 2017, 07:36:08 AM »

Watch THE ELECTRIC HOUSE in the link above and get the Damfino's note here:

We come one Keaton short of having the entire family in this one!  We have Ma, Pa, and Sis Keaton, but not Bro Keaton.  Beyond that, this is just an exercise in Keaton mechanical genius.  Unfortunately, it's just 15 minutes of devices and jokes surrounding these devices.  As such, the short gets very tedious, and the plot stretches in this one are such that I have to say this is by far the worst of the Keaton silent shorts and definitely not one I will be in a hurry to watch any time soon.  This short is an absolute... dud.

4/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Frozen North (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: August 19, 2017, 06:51:58 AM »

Watch THE FROZEN NORTH in the link box above and get the Damfino's note here:

From Lisle Foote of the Damfinos: "Not all of The Frozen North makes sense, probably because it's fragmented. But I have no doubt that it was pretty weird when it was whole. It's odd to see Keaton playing a would be thief, murderer, wife-abuser, and adulterer, even if it's only a dream - and a parody. Nevertheless, the jokes work, even if you've never seen the Hart films he's spoofing."

Now, I know I am going to get ripped for this, but this is one of my favorite silent Keaton shorts.  This short was made at the height of the Roscoe Arbuckle trial, and the script is appropriate as the original version Keaton modified was written by Roscoe.  Herein, he takes potshots at William S. Hart, who made an arse of himself by going around spewing his certainty of Arbuckle's guilt.

Lisle Foote's assessment is about perfect.  The only thing I'd add is that Keaton fails at 3 of those... miserably.  Nevertheless, we see Keaton truly displaying all of his talents: mechanical, emotional, comical, and parodic.  This is about the only time you'll see Keaton kick someone, let alone Joe Roberts!

Mechanically, we see the typical Keaton fare, such as the various sled gags.  Emotionally, we see his parodic mockery of Hart's signature glycerin tears after he murders the couple before resuming Keatonian sheepishness of tipping his hat and leaving, albeit without guilt.  He makes a frighteningly good womanizer both when shoving his own wife and when getting ready to assault Bonnie Hill.  He's comical, when he, dressed in a white suit, magically appears behind closed doors, when he's stepping off the "grass," and when he falls through an igloo while brooding.  Carpet sweepers, guitars, snowshoes used as baseball bats, and bears appear along the way.  But the greatest parody of all is when he pulls that bottle of Coke out of his pocket and swigs it like a pirate with hard whiskey.

Much like THE GENERAL, this is not the typical Keaton comedy, but it nevertheless makes for a fantastic film.

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

P.S. There are two Three Stooges gag and one Laurel and Hardy gag in this film.  Can you spot them?

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Blacksmith (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: August 12, 2017, 07:29:52 AM »

Watch THE BLACKSMITH in the link above.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to a release print.  If you do, please feel free to review that instead because your thoughts will be enlightening.  I'm stuck with the pre-2013-discovery version.

THE BLACKSMITH is widely regarded as Keaton's worst independent short, but I disagree.  In this version, the film is an enjoyable amalgam of pratfalls and mechanical gags that certainly does no harm to his comedic reputation.  We have moments like the watch, the balloon, the train (which is clearly a film strip being rewound: the smoke is going INTO the train).  It's those little elements that scream, "Keaton," yet say no other name.

The co-stars help a lot in this short, but I say this noting that the saddlesore woman seems familiar enough that I think she appeared in other stuff.  The brat with the slingshot... I wish the following scene either had him getting hit by a car or getting by Buster, but alas, no.  Joe Roberts and the superhuman strength crap gets a bit tiresome because, to me, it wasted a lot of money on Keystone Kop style bit actors that could have been used on better stuff.

8/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / My Wife's Relations (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: August 07, 2017, 04:54:16 AM »

Watch MY WIFE's RELATIONS in the link above.

For the Stooge fans, we see two important gags used later by the Three Stooges.  Did you spot them?

This short is, in short, the first total flop from the Keaton collection.  What we have here is a plot that doesn't make sense even for Keaton.  A normal Keaton film has bizarre things happening to normal people in otherwise normal scenarios with the aid of bizarre contraptions.  Combine this with Buster's reactions to these happenings, and you have the basic Buster formula.

The incompetence/stupidity/facetiousness/autism displayed by the supporting cast is just plain weird and totally cooks the short for me.  That said, we have some moments, such as the hats on the sconce, Buster with the calendar, Kate breaking the pitcher over his head.  The judge who only speaks Polish is the real harbinger as doom, as any idiot should know that such a person would never be able to hold a government position because that job requires fluency in English.

This short could be worse, but I stop here because I could write at least two more paragraphs on this one...

6/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / Cops (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 31, 2017, 06:20:06 AM »

Watch COPS in the link above.

One cannot view this short with full enjoyment until understanding that this was written and filmed during the Roscoe Arbuckle trials.  Buster was one of the few Hollywood characters to maintain loyalty to Arbuckle, whilst the rest blacklisted Roscoe.  And the result is COPS.

COPS takes Buster's typical cynical approach to an extreme.  In a normal short, Buster might raise the ire of a police officer or three a la The Three Stooges.  Here, everything he does wrong involves police officers.  It is chase gag after chase gag in a machine gun manner that keeps you interested even when you're not laughing.  This short is a classic example of Keaton's genius.  This must have been one of the largest cast counts in the history of two-reel comedy.

This short nicely accomplishes its mission of showcasing how easy it is to pursue the wrong man and waste time and money in doing so.

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Paleface (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 23, 2017, 04:40:47 AM »

Watch THE PALEFACE in the link above.

Since plenty has already been said, I'll say that I love this short.  I think it does a good job of portraying two things: (1) the way Indians really were screwed over and (2) that Indians were accepting of peaceful white men.  And he does this while picking on pidgin English too.  The falls Buster takes here are all done well, and the acting is done only in the way Buster can.  The outdoor scenery makes this short work as well as it does.

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 15, 2017, 06:07:41 AM »

Watch THE BOAT in the link above.

The short that is the reason Keaton fans are known as "Damfinos" is THE BOAT.  It's a pretty Damfino short, although it isn't as Damfino as the recent shorts.  But it's Damfino in its own right.

This is Buster's only true domestic comedy, as he has both a Damfino wife AND two sons in this short.  And it all makes this short Damfino.  As such, enjoy this as you'll never see anything like it again in this journey.

The opening of the short is Damfino, especially when Buster pulls the boat out of through the house, causing mayhem.  Sybil Seeley is clearly a long-suffering, yet devoted, and Damfino, wife.  And then Buster almost drowns a son or two and, in turn, drowns a Damfino car.  It's an unforgettable moment when Buster, aboard the launching Damfino, just stares ahead in his usual non-chalant and vacant "Damfino" glaze as the boat heads straight down.

It's fun watching Buster test the water temp before diving after his son; can't save someone if it's too cold!  From here, it's just one Damfino fast-paced gag after another.  The storm, however, gets tiresome after a while, in a rare case where Keaton milks a Damfino gag too long.  And I can't understand why he doesn't turn off the boat when he goes below deck.  Such things keep this Damfino short from being REALLY Damfino.  Why?  Damfino

I won't spoil it, but this short has many gags seen in Three Stooges shorts.  With so many, more Damfino shorts in the Keaton silents, this isn't one I'm likely to watch too often.

8/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

P.S. Was this not a Damfino review?

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Playhouse (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 08, 2017, 05:23:18 AM »

Watch THE PLAYHOUSE in the link above.

What we have here is one of the greatest masterpieces of not just the silent era but of all films ever made.  THE PLAYHOUSE sees the absolute perfection in combining humor, slight of hand, and camera effects.  The process is complex and detailed by the Damfinos in the provided link.  Subtleties throughout the short make this well worth your 23 minutes.

The opening sequence involves many elements of multiple Keaton figures on stage.  Read more to find out about these things.  Yes, there are blackface characters among the 9 Keaton's, but, as far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing racist in the characters themselves.  One must realize that this is a combo of camera effects done to poke fun at Tom Ince (who has a fascinating tale), who was as ego self-inflating as Marv Newland.

Now, the short itself is an interesting amalgam of plot and vaudeville sketches.  Keaton's misfortunes with the twins and his resolve to never drink again make for great moments in this.  His portrayal of the monkey is spot on, and this says a lot as I hate monkeys.  As for the war veterans, I disagree that they're Civil War veterans because (1) that'd make them over 70 years old, and (2) Spanish-American War soldiers (which was just 23 years prior) also wore blue coats.

I never have figured out how the girl "gets caught" in a smooth surfaced tank.  Nor do I really understand why Joe Roberts wants to pound Keaton for saving his life (even if violently).  Either way...

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / The Goat (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 01, 2017, 04:55:42 AM »

Watch THE GOAT in the link above.

We have our first Keaton police chase short.  The basic premise is simple: Keaton falls afoul of cops, and a chase begins.  This short is typically Keaton fair, with Buster using various objects to escape police officers and employing surprises in other cases.  There is a major plot hole in that the cops should be aware that the photo isn't of Dead Shot Dan, but this is minor when one is enjoying himself so much.

One of Keaton's greatest skills is camera placement.  Examples of this include the train riding up to the camera with him on the cowcatcher and the view of Joe Roberts' face when he realizes who his dinner guest is.  Add in a strong supporting cast, and you have yourselves 22 minutes of top quality film, even if not always funny.

Something I notice is the difference between Keaton police chases and Three Stooges police chases.  Keaton focuses more on using people and objects to separate himself from the police by interrupting their attention; the Stooges used people to attack and confuse the police.  Regardless...

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

Weekly Episode Discussions / The High Sign (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: June 25, 2017, 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.  The chase through the house is Keaton-esque mechanically, and well-done.  Overall, it's not a bad effort.  However, I am convinced Keaton is making the high sign to Tiny Tim and not the audience; just my opinion.

The scene where the villain gets his neck shut in the door is weird... kind of creepy.  Al St. John makes a nice cameo though.  Overall, a weird short...

8/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

Weekly Episode Discussions / Hard Luck (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: June 17, 2017, 05:16:53 AM »

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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