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Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Convict 13 (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by falsealarms on Today at 11:01:31 AM »
TCM article on the short -

"That we can enjoy Convict 13 today is something of a minor miracle--the ravages of time had eaten away at available copies until only fragments remained. Then, in the 1970s, Raymond Rohauer pieced together copies unearthed around the world to reassemble a nearly complete reconstruction."
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: One Week (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Umbday on Today at 08:49:47 AM »
You can hardly beat One Week as an introduction to Keaton. The solo shorts simply don’t get much stronger, all around. In fact, one will see that, over the course of the three years these shorts were in production, the first dozen or so are pretty much indelible, with the last batch tending to be somewhat less dazzling. 

Yes, Sybil Seely was probably Buster’s most memorable and vibrant leading lady. The story goes that she was replaced by Virginia Fox early in the silent shorts era because Seely “proved a little fragile.” I’d always figured that Keaton meant that Seely wasn’t as game for the knockabout stuff as he might have wanted her to be. Turns out, thought, that around 1921, Seely got married and became pregnant — so maybe that’s what was meant when Keaton described her as fragile.

For my money, Fox, as Seely’s replacement, was not as distinctive a personality or as watchable as Seely, and to my recollection wasn’t given much physical business to perform anyway.

Another cool thing — Although I’ve never seen it screened this way, One Week makes a seamless middle act in a fantasy Buster-Sybil feature consisting of three of the very best shorts: The Scarecrow (courtship); One Week (newlyweds); The Boat (with children and damfino). Try it at home.
Yes, the hanging scene is very much like Sweet Pie and Pie, the only reason I didn't bring it up is because I think someone else mentioned it not long ago in another thread.
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Convict 13 (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by metaldams on Today at 07:53:31 AM »
      Stooge fans, shocked to see this not mentioned.  We have a prison hanging gag with inmate spectators being served by a concession guy like it's a baseball game.  The hanging fails, though in Keaton's case, this aspect is much better because we see a bouncing bungee jump cord comic effect versus a random cut away of the Stooges on the ground. Trivia - What Stooge film did this appear in? 

      CONVICT 13 is a flat out awesome short.  The golf stuff for the first few minutes is fantastic.  Buster can make a simple task like missing a put fascinating, which takes a lot of skill.  The pool like cue shot at the end is a nice touch and the business where the ball lands in the water and the ball gets swallowed by the fish is also delightful.  Keeping up with animals grabbing golf balls, the dog grabbing the ball mid put is classic surprise the audience hilarity.  The camera set up is perfect, no foreshadowing, just one shot of the dog running from the side taking everyone by surprise.  Also love the concept of Buster trying to impress cute as a button Sybil Seely with his golf game and she outplays him.

      The chase to get Keaton into the prison, with all the surprise turns, is well thought out and the rows of prison guards following Keaton on the streets definitely foreshadows the more famous similar scene in COPS.  Joe Roberts as the heavy gets his first great Keaton role, a wonderful comic menace in the same tradition as Eric Campbell with Chaplin.  There is one part where there is a cat and mouse game between he and Keaton where Roberts is behind Keaton waiting to grab him, and Keaton, without overemoting, has this frightened look on his face.  It's all in the eyes, a wonderful example of Keaton being expressive without overacting.  The mule kick at the end is again a surprise and perfectly time.

      As Big Chief mentions lots of violent comedy in this one, and it's all wonderful to watch.  I absolutely love this short and have nothing bad to say.  False Alarms, nice to see you watching these.  A thing about varying run times in silent films.  Sometimes it is because of footage in some prints not available in others, but silent film, unlike talkies (24 frames per second), can run at varying speeds, hence different times.

Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Convict 13 (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by falsealarms on May 22, 2017, 08:56:52 PM »
I watched this for the first time today, after watching The High Sign and One Week. The High Sign was okay. One Week was pretty good. But Convict 13 was even better. The short's million miles a minute pacing was a huge plus, and the physical comedy was superb. At least on the version I watched, a lively and at times cartoon-like score just added to the experience. I rank it among the best Keaton shorts I've seen, which include the ones mentioned here plus his Columbia and Educational output. I saw those sound shorts years ago, but am just getting into his silent shorts now.

I can only hope the rest of his silent shorts match Convict 13. has Kino's 3-disc Blu-Ray set of Keaton's 1920-1923 shorts for $7.95. It's loaded with quality extras, too. A no-brainer for me at that price. Kino's stuff is rarely discounted that much. That set has arguably been surpassed by a more recent one from Kino covering 1917-1923, but you're not getting that for $8 and the extras weren't carried over.

Convict 13 seems to have varying running times. The one linked here runs 24 minutes. The one on the 1920-1923 set runs 19. The one on the 1917-1923 set runs 21.
If you can mentally supply stooge-type sound effects to the mayhem in this one, you might come to the same conclusion I did:  this is more violent than any stooge comedy ever.  The body count is at least as high as Grips, Grunts, and Groans.  Way back when on this site, someone was tallying up the hits in each stooge episode, and I bet that this one is at least a match, although I'm not myself going to do that math.  Also, I'm not complaining, you understand.  And is this the best available print?  I hope not.
General Discussion / New Buster Keaton Documentary in the works
« Last post by Umbrella Sam on May 21, 2017, 10:40:02 AM »
Well, I figured since we were in the middle of our weekly Keaton discussions, I would share this news that I learned that Peter Bogdanovic, the director of films such as THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and PAPER MOON, is set to direct a new Buster Keaton documentary under producer Charles S. Cohen, who owns the rights to most of Keaton's films. Here's a link to the article for more information.
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Convict 13 (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Umbrella Sam on May 21, 2017, 10:31:26 AM »
I agree. This is a great short with physical comedy that could be better than ONE WEEK if it weren't for the plot holes. The ending does solve most of them, although the fact that the prisoner escaped before Keaton was knocked out is still a problem. In addition, the ending means that all we saw was for nothing. While it's still impressive that Keaton the actor could do these things, unfortunately, I wish it also technically could have been Keaton the character doing these things as well. I know that seems like a minor point that won't bother most people, but it does sort of bother me.

That one problem does not really ruin the short for me, though. It is still packed with laughs throughout. Keaton's attempts to escape from the police are very fun to watch and Keaton's failed attempts to adjust to prison life are interesting as well, such as when he attempts to break the rocks. We also see Joe Roberts playing the villain for the first time (something we will be seeing more of in the future) and he also does a very good job. Even the stuff before Keaton gets knocked out is really good. Keaton really takes the "play it as it lies" rule in golf to the next level when he hits the ball on the water.

It's still a very good short that I enjoy very much. This was very close to a 10, but I do think I'll mark it down one point for the problems with the plot.

9 out of 10
Weekly Episode Discussions / Convict 13 (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Paul Pain on May 21, 2017, 04:59:32 AM »

Watch CONVICT 13 in the link above.

We have here a most difficult short.  The short is magnificent start to finish, but only in post-primary viewings.  The reasons are found in the many plot holes that only make sense once you understand the ending, but I can't rant about those.   But this was the first Keaton filmed I ever watched, and it got me hooked.

The physical comedy in this one surpasses ONE WEEK.  We have the medicine ball mace attack, a bungee cord noose, sledge hammers used Three Stooges style, and everything else in between.  I wonder if this served as inspiration for Curly's rage at the end of PUNCH DRUNKS?

The acting is fantastic as always.  And the hangman?  That's Buster's right hand man in directing and writing, Edward Cline.

Watch it once, and the plot holes are confusing.  Watch it twice, and it's a friend for life.

9/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The Saphead (1920) - Buster Keaton
« Last post by Umbrella Sam on May 18, 2017, 09:29:10 PM »
Keaton's stories in and of themselves may not be as good as Chaplin and Lloyd, but he sure makes the best of what he's got.  Ironically, I feel story wise, his first MGM, THE CAMERAMAN, is his best.  Too bad the other MGM's didn't follow.

Pretty good summary of the of the three great silent clowns, though.

I agree entirely with what you said. Also, thanks.  :)
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