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Messages - metaldams

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1
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The General (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 19, 2017, 08:22:44 AM »
      Umbrella Sam, thanks for the link showing the Karloff guy is Mike Donlin.  Looking him up, he was actually a baseball player during the Deadball era and was a major part of the 1905 New York Giants World Series championship team!   That and 1908 were his only real complete seasons, though, as apparently alcohol and a desire to act derailed his career, but he put up some good numbers when he played, having a 144 career OPS +.  Buster also loved baseball, so not surprised he'd used Donlin.  Still resembles Karloff.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/donlimi01.shtml
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Donlin

       As for Keaton saying he's a bartender the second time, I don't think it's because he's aware his profession got him denied the first time more so than he's trying to pass himself off as a different person (he's also hiding his face and changing his name).  Still, whatever flaws there are in this part are so minor in my eyes compared to the rest of the film I can easily forgive it.  I actually think THE GENERAL is tied as Keaton's best with SHERLOCK, JR. and a film we've yet to discuss.
       




2
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The General (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 18, 2017, 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 imdb.com, 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.

10/10

3
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Some More of Samoa (1941)
« 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.

4
Sounds like a good idea to me. Some of the MGM films are available on iTunes, so the only one I may have to get ahead of time is THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER. I'm curious if we're also planning on talking about those three foreign features he did, as well as his later independent shorts? I'd love to talk about THE RAILRODDER.

Post Columbia is difficult to sort out.  As far the foreign films, I've only seen and own one of them.  Should hunt the other down if possible, but I'd do those as well if I can get them.

5
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Battling Butler (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 13, 2017, 08:32:58 PM »
By commercial fortunes, do you mean by how much it grossed on initial release? I always thought THE NAVIGATOR was his most successful silent film financially.

You're actually correct, THE NAVIGATOR was the highest, and BATTLING BUTLER was close.

6
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Battling Butler (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 13, 2017, 09:48:05 AM »


Ironically, SEVEN CHANCES was Keaton’s least favorite of his silent features, yet for some reason, BATTLING BUTLER was his favorite. However, yes, Keaton and stage plays tended not to go well together. Also...



I think Keaton viewed BATTLING BUTLER most fondly due to commercial fortunes.  For years, his film weren't readily available and as they were being shown publically again towards the end of his life, I think he grew higher regard for THE GENERAL.

7
We only have three more films to go until we get to the end of Keaton's independent run and into MGM.  Of the MGM features, just two, SPEAK EASILY and PARLOR BEDROOM AND BATH are public domain and should be viewable on YouTube?  At least with those two, we should get all three of us participating.  The others?  Well, the way I want to do it is the week after STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.; I'll dive right into THE CAMERAMAN (an absolute must see), and go into the other MGM features, and if Paul wants to start the Educationals or Columbias the same week I start the MGM's, I think that would work out.  It would be a shame to mostly ignore the MGM period.  What do you guys think?

....and if you're willing to spend about thirty dollars, here's a link to a DVD set which has the first three MGM features, audio commentaries, and a documentary about the MGM years.  A fantastic set.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00049QQ78/ref=s9u_simh_gw_i4?ie=UTF8&fpl=fresh&pd_rd_i=B00049QQ78&pd_rd_r=38cd9759-c886-11e7-9821-4b13dd402765&pd_rd_w=b7mxV&pd_rd_wg=eEkRo&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=CAAW7BTREMP17KHX4PRR&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=1cf9d009-399c-49e1-901a-7b8786e59436&pf_rd_i=desktop

8
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Battling Butler (1926) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 12, 2017, 09:37:07 PM »
      You know, I usually say THREE AGES is Keaton's worst silent film he directed, but I'm changing my mind and saying BATTLING BUTLER.  Now it's not a bad film, as silent Keaton never made a turkey.  That said, like SEVEN CHANCES, this was based on a stage play, never a good idea for Keaton, as his best comedy, such as SHERLOCK, JR. and the film we'll be discussing next week, is very cinematic and tends to move around.  Those films could never be effective stage plays.  However, SEVEN CHANCES does get the incredible finale that is very Buster like, something we never get in BATTLING BUTLER.

       Look, there's some good stuff here, especially in the beginning.  Just the idea of rich Keaton "roughing it" in the woods is great stuff, because his version involves bringing butler Snitz Edwards along with modern conveniences at his disposal.  That alone is funny, as is the stone faced manner in which Keaton approaches his business.  My favorite part of the entire film, and one that has left a positive impression on me, is when Buster and Sally O'Neil are outside camping on the table, elbows on the table causing said table to sink into the dirt.  Both characters sink along with the table until they are on the ground, continuing their conversation as if nothing is happening.  Fantastic gag.

      The sparring stuff is a mixed bag for me.  Keaton's physicality is great most of the time.  I got a nice laugh when he tried to impersonate the trainer jumping over the top rope into the ring, only to fall down and have his momentum carry him in a circular way back to the outside.  However, the scene fits Shemp and with the fey mannerisms, Joe Besser more than Keaton.  The reason?  Look at Keaton, while not a big guy, he was in pretty good shape.  Just doesn't seem believable that he'd act that wimpy.

      Umbrella Sam mentions a photo not showing up anywhere of the real Battling Butler, though it actually does!  When Snitz Edwards is convincing the father and brother, he's showing them a real newspaper article, complete with picture of the real Battling Butler.  That right there should be a giveaway Keaton is not the real boxer, so a big suspension of disbelief is needed!  As far as Sally O'Neil, a bit young at 17.  Maybe that innocence works with the protective father and brother, though.  The age in the film isn't mentioned.  I think Mary O'Brien would be a more standard Keaton leading lady, very attractive I think, but looking her up, only one of three film credits she ever did.

       As for the finale, while not a stone cold amazing chase or spectacle like most of his finales, it shows an intensity to Keaton we rarely see, and an admittedly good chaser after watching wimpy Keaton earlier.  Totally intense ass kicking acting on Buster's part, the way he takes his already downed opponent up just so he can sock him again.  Overall, BATTLING BUTLER is Keaton's most stage like feature he directed, as it moves along nicely, is never dull, Keaton makes the material better than it is with his physicality and demeanor, but it still lacks the cinematic qualities of classic Keaton fare.  For some irony, this was also Keaton's most commercially successful silent film (yes, the MGM talkies were more successful than any silents), proving that the modern perception of Keaton wasn't what it was in his heyday.  For more irony, next week's film was a commercial disappointment.

7/10

9
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Go West (1925) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 11, 2017, 11:52:12 AM »
      I'm with you guys, absolutely love this film and I agree it's Keaton's most underrated.  I do like it better than the last two films, for example, and that's not the general consensus.  This is Keaton's most aloof character, completely friendless, as the title cards state, and really lives a subplot life to the rest of the world.  Keaton is a cowboy who's not really cowboy, as he has no idea what he's doing (see the now standard thinking the cow will milk itself gag as an example).  He's more like interested in being friends with Brown Eyes the cow, noticing her more than the real girl.  You get the feeling he'll get the girl in the end, as the film ends with them conversing...but that's the point.  Once things show they may become standard with the boy/girl thing, the film ends.  This film is about Buster and Brown Eyes.  Also love the whole dinner gag, the first couple of times Keaton shows up late and gets no dinner, the last time he arrives early and finishes before everyone else arrives.  It's comical and at the same time, brilliantly indicates Keaton's isolation from the rest of the world.

      You guys did a good job summing this one up, so I don't have too much to add.  Will pitch in my praise for the wheelbarrel scene and the opening when he sells his stuff.  The smile gag is brilliant and is a play on Keaton's public persona of never smiling.  What is the solution?  Why, another bit of D.W. Griffith influence, which would be lost on audiences today unless they know silent film.  Forcing a fake smile with the hands was done by Lillian Gish in BROKEN BLOSSOMS.  Oh, and the heavy woman in the department store elevator during the cow chase scene?  Not a woman...it's Roscoe Arbuckle in drag.  Banned from the screen, Keaton took a risk and snuck him on.

10/10

10
General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: November 08, 2017, 04:49:02 PM »
Yes, we did love Doc.  It was a terrible tragedy, most definitely.  While I thoroughly enjoy watching the last out of his perfect game and his playoff no-hitter, yesterday was not how I wanted to see them. 

Even after he could no longer pitch, Doc would still help out with the Phillies' pitchers in spring training.

Roy Halladay, Thurman Munson, Corey Lidle -- maybe baseball players are just not cut out to be airplane pilots.
 

Yeah, seriously about the baseball player pilots!  Tragic...and Lidle was a Phillie too.

As a Red Sox fan, safe to say Boston was Halladay's most common opponent.  Threw 275 innings against Boston, more than any other team, and was 14 - 15 with a 4.39 ERA, so yes, hit or miss.  He was 18 - 7 with a 2.98 ERA versus the Yankees. A longtime rival gone way too soon, feel awful for his family.

11
General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: November 07, 2017, 04:28:37 PM »
Absolutely sucks to hear about Roy Halladay. These ball players and small plane crashes seem to happen too often.  As a Blue Jay, he was always a competitor Red Sox fans respected...and it was strange, he'd either kill Boston or Boston would light him up, rarely in between, it seems, and his career numbers bare this out.  As someone who lives in Philly territory, I can tell you Phillie fans love him.  On that note, extra baseball condolences to both Tony Bensley and Lefty.  Fuck!

12
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Sherlock Jr. (1924) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 05, 2017, 08:05:46 AM »
You know, now that I think about it, this has always been something that has bothered me. People qualify SHERLOCK JR. as a feature, yet they never count SHOULDER ARMS or THE PILGRIM as features, despite the fact that both technically qualify and are about the same length. Technically, A BURLESQUE ON CARMEN also qualifies, though Chaplin did not direct all of the footage nor did he approve its release (just another reason to not be a fan of Essanay [pie]).

      Yeah, I don't qualify A BURLESQUE ON CARMEN for the very reason you mentioned.  Also, throw in A SAILOR-MADE MAN, another roughly 45 minute four reeler, being considered Harold Lloyd's first feature, and that's more of an argument to add SHOULDER ARMS and THE PILGRIM in Chaplin's feature film filmography.

13
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Seven Chances (1925) - Buster Keaton
« on: November 04, 2017, 06:58:53 AM »
       It is true that Keaton was forced to do this film because his producer, Joseph Schenk, bought the rights.  Most Keaton films were written by Keaton and his team, but this was a pre-written property that was basically a drawing room comedy any comedian could have done.  Put it to you this way...in addition to Keaton, Schenk thought this might also work for the Talmadge sisters.  Keaton is usually writing a film that suites his character, not having a property any comedian could handle.

      So basically, we know the drill, first two thirds....meh.  Final third....genius.  Those first two thirds would score no higher than a 6 based on material alone, and we'd need a good comedian to get the score that high.  Well, Keaton is that, his underplaying comedic style a breath of fresh air from the greasy haired Valentino wanna be who would normally play this kind of role.  Without the chase, this would be the kind of film you'd watch once.  Keaton getting rejected by seven different girls, without much variety, takes too much time and is not best suited for him.  I too prefer Christine mistaking Cousin Basil.  Much better than any rejections here.  As far as the racial gags, there are a few...and the I'll date anything but a black woman gag does quickly show up.  I've seen Larry Semon do this gag too, and it does lack humor....obviously.  Definitely the kind of thing you'd never see in a film today!

      Highlights of the first two thirds include the technicolor opening.  Yes, like Umbrella Sam said, also done briefly in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA the same year, and for a whole feature using this early technicolor process, check out Douglas Fairbanks in THE BLACK PIRATE (1926).  Cool film.  Snitz Edwards trying to deliver the letter mistaken as a summons is the comedic highlight, milked very well and the most Keatonesque moment.  Love Snitz Edwards and also want to add that T. Roy Barnes, who plays Keaton's business partner, is the same actor who played the hilariously annoying life insurance salesman looking for Carl LaFong in W.C. Fields IT'S A GIFT, one of my all time favorite movies.

      OK, two thirds mostly standard comedy, but then the chase!  One of Keaton's great works.  Just the volume of brides in itself is a sight to behold, coming in all different sub sections and angles in an equally brilliant way as the policemen do in COPS.  My favorite bride bit would be them trampling over the football players.  Keaton himself is brilliant with his facial expressions in the church, and just runs away for an extended period of time, going through barbed wire, bees, pulled up by a crane, falling on top of a chopped down tree the moment the man below yells timber....and then there's that boulder chase.  Keaton dodging those boulders is one of those things words don't do justice, it is physical comedy after all.  But it's another case of Keaton's great athleticism and timing.

The chase more than enough makes this film worth watching again and ups the score considerably.

9/10

14
General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: October 30, 2017, 08:07:55 AM »
WOW!!!! After more than 5 hours and over 400 pitches thrown, the Houston Astros beat the LA Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5!

WHAT A GAME!!!  WHAT A SERIES!!!! And I don't even have cable!!!! ;D

CHEERS!  [pie]

The crazy thing is Houston have at the very least made it to game 7 without having one bullpen arm capable of closing out a game.  Very unusual, but yes, this has been an amazing series.

15
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The Navigator (1924) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 29, 2017, 11:15:31 AM »
      Well, I tend to like this film better than you two guys.  Umbrella Sam, I do agree with you in the fact the plot at the beginning of the film not being wrapped up is a flaw in THE NAVIGATOR.  The whole spy angle and the fate of the girl's father do not get addressed at all in the end, and at least the latter point should be of great importance to the girl...obviously a main character we invest in throughout the whole film.

      One thing I will disagree with is is the first 10 minutes on the boat being "insufferably boring."  Paul's version of boring is my version of genius, and to each their own.  That said, I've seen THE NAVIGATOR several times over the past fifteen to twenty years, and whenever I think of this film, that part where Buster and Kathryn McGuire are on the boat looking for each other is something I always think fondly of.  First off, the fresh cigarette butt on the ground is a fantastic clue for Kathryn McGuire to know Buster is there, very subtle and excellent filmmaking.  Then the camera set up making the boat maze like and the various timings of the way Keaton and McGuire keep missing each other is fantastic.  This is a wonderful case of milking a gag in several variations for all its worth, and I enjoy this part immensely.  Also, within this part there is the nice gag of Buster losing his hats to the wind and nonchalantly grabbing a new one out of nowhere....a nice touch.

      I agree with you guys about the night gags and Buster's long walk at the beginning of the film.  Want to add the picture gag when Buster trying to sleep involves a picture of Donald Crisp, Keaton's co-director in this film.  Crisp was also a famous actor before and decades after THE NAVIGATOR going well into the talkie era.  Check out his filmography on imdb, it's impressive.

      As far as the stuff with the natives, I'll say I don't find it racist at all.  The NAVIGATOR is over 90 years old and is portraying an indigenous culture pre Internet, pre television, radio just started, flight travel was not as common, and the fact is these natives probably never saw a white person in their life.  A sad but true commentary on human nature is that different races and cultures, before being integrated together, tend to treat each other with less than kindness, and I can understand fear on both sides.  I don't like being too political, but when viewing really old films, I suppose sometimes this stuff is unavoidable.  That being said, I think the whole scene with the natives makes for a pretty cool action/adventure reel, and I do enjoy it.  Keaton being underwater is also great, as I love the way he uses a lobster to cut a wire and the swordfish fight is classic.  The ending where they land in the submarine, while not bad, is a bit sudden in my eyes.  Perhaps it goes back to the beginning of the film not being wrapped up properly.

      Not a perfect film like the last couple, but THE NAVIGATOR I still find to be a really creative and funny film I return to a lot.  Another victory for Buster.

9/10

16
Hoping Sunday will be a two fer, and hopefully after this will be on schedule with reviews. 

17
General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: October 26, 2017, 09:05:32 PM »
OK, Verlander wasn't exactly excellent last night, but hey, Houston and LA did end up scoring lots of runs in last night's "Home Run Derby," in which the Astros eventually prevailed over the Dodgers by a score of 7-6 in 11 innings, evening up the series at 1-1!

In other news, it appears that Joe Girardi and the Yankees have parted ways.  It seems to me this type of news used to be held back until the conclusion of the World Series. 

CHEERS!  [pie]

There were five home runs in extra innings last night, which I believe is a major league record not just for post season, but any game!  Crazy stuff.

A lot of teams are announcing their managers are gone before the World Series, but most bizarre is the Red Sox.  It's basically admitted Alex Cora is the next manager..as he's the bench coach for a team in the World Series!

18
General Discussion / Re: The Three Stooges (NES)
« on: October 25, 2017, 11:18:22 PM »
I had this game as a kid in the 80's.  LOL what memories.  Look, I know it's not a great game, but I dig the nostalgia.  My favorite part?  The pie fight.  My brother and I use to play the pie fight over and over again and laugh our heads silly.  I did learn Curly's name was Jerome from this game.

19
General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: October 24, 2017, 06:22:07 PM »
I'm pulling for Houston, since they've never won before, and it would be nice to see Verlander on a Championship team while still in his prime.

That said, I don't think the Dodgers winning would upset me much, either.  I'm happy that the Yankees got taken down, so I'm good!  ;D

CHEERS! [pie]

Agree 100%

20
General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: October 21, 2017, 10:25:04 PM »
Thank God, the Yankees lose.  Boston losing I can take with 3 World Series in the last 14 seasons,  the Yankees winning I can't.  Have to say though, for a team some were picking to be last place to make it to game 7 of the ALCS is impressive.  They have a good young core of players and will be a thorn for several more years.  That losing team I've been waiting for for 25 years will have to wait much longer.

21
Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Sherlock Jr. (1924) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 20, 2017, 02:09:49 PM »
      Umbrella Sam, nice catch on the MUD AND SAND poster.  All of these years watching this film and I never noticed that until you pointed it out.  I of course noticed the Mary Pickford picture, but that's more front and center.

      SHERLOCK, JR. is a very special film to me as it was my introduction to Keaton and got me into silent comedy in general.  Before this, I saw four Chaplin Essanay shorts from 1915 on TCM and was not impressed.  These days, I appreciate those Essanay shorts for what they are....early Chaplin and ahead of their time, but there's a huge difference between 1915 and 1924, so starting out with mature silent films (basically, the 20's) is best for the newbie.  First viewing of SHERLOCK, JR. blew me away instantly.  I was blown away by the creative gags, the dangerous stunts, the wit, and Keaton's demeanor in general.  I've been on board ever since.

      As far as the length, SHERLOCK, JR. is a short feature.  Basically, anything 40 minutes or more and at least four reels is a feature.  SHERLOCK, JR. just squeezes by.  Since this week's film routinely is called a Keaton feature, I am consistent.  Chaplin's first directed feature, in my eyes, is not THE KID, but SHOULDER ARMS, and I also count THE PILGRIM.  They're the same length as SHERLOCK, JR.

      The plot of SHERLOCK, JR. is really not the point of the film, so I do not consider the minimal plot a flaw.  Yes, the plot is resolved early on.  The point of SHERLOCK, JR.; besides being a great comedy, is that we can aspire to be what we're not in dreams and live out fantasy, and to dig even further, movies are also an avenue where we can live out fantasy.  Not that I'm a fan, but how the Hell else do you explain all these super hero movies that are coming out today?  The majority of Keaton's dream takes place in a movie, so the two are definitely intertwined.

      Pre dream Keaton is a wanna be detective and lover, and he's not very good at either (staying true to the proverb at the beginning of the film).  He gets outwitted with the pawned watch, overshadowed by his rival for his girl, and when he is with his girl, is hilariously too timid to make a move towards her.  The scene where Keaton and Kathryn McGuire are next to each other and Keaton gives the ring and proves to be a timid love maker are the closest to Harry Langdon Keaton ever got....and I love Langdon. 

      OK, so Keaton's inept in real life, but in his movie/dream, he's always one move ahead of his rivals.  He knows not to drink the poison liquor, he knows to grab away the explosive pool ball, he pre plans his escape when the rivals let down their guard and expose the pearls through that brilliant window gag, and he saves the girl nonchalantly and gets her in the end.  When we return to real life, Keaton is again inept at making love to his girl, so what does he turn to for advice?  The movie on the screen in front of him, impersonating, rather timidly, every move the leading man makes towards his lady.  The very last gag which ends the film, which I won't give away for those who haven't seen it, is one of the most hysterical endings ever and takes the impersonation thing further than Keaton can go.

      The physical comedy is wonderful and at times dangerous.  Keaton really broke his next falling down from the water pipe by the train but didn't know about it until years later!  The motorbike chase is awesome and that really blew me away first viewing....still does.  The timing and mechanics of some of that stuff, like the stuff with the trucks and bridges especially, is breathtaking.  I also love Keaton shadowing his rival early on, again, an act that must've taken great rehearsal and timing.  Oh, and the transition scene into Hearts and Pearls where Keaton enters the movie screen and keeps transitioning into different surroundings is also brilliant, as is the ghost Keaton who enters the screen.

      Really, one of the greatest movies ever made and a perfect introduction to silent film for any doubter.  A very important film in my life.

10/10

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The silent version....don't have much to say except I agree it's the sound version minus the sound gags and was just made to be shown in theaters yet equipped with sound.  In other words, 100% commercial, 0% art. 

Umbrella Sam, if you're you're going to participate, I'll seriously consider doing the other Laurel and Hardy films when we finish Keaton.  I'm definitely enough of a fan, it's just that participation was minimal before and combined with doing Stooge films at the time, it was too much work for too little feedback.  The last film I did was THE MUSIC BOX.

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Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 13, 2017, 07:48:18 PM »
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.

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Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 13, 2017, 12:20:41 AM »
      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

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General Discussion / Re: Larry Fine and my dad
« on: October 10, 2017, 09:56:34 AM »
Metaldams - that's so neat that your grandmother and my dad entered this world within about 48 hours of each other.  Two days younger than my dad means that she was born on Larry Fine's twentieth birthday - so Larry was probably celebrating her birth, whether he knew it or not!  Did your grandmother say if Carl Reiner was an unusually funny high schooler?

      You're right, my grandmother would be exactly 20 younger than Larry, to the day!  Never put two and two together.

      As far as memories of Carl Reiner, no idea.  She passed ten years ago and I only found out a few years ago from my Dad they were classmates.  My grandmother had Alzheimer's the last 15 years of her life, so stories were hard to come by from her once I was a teenager.  Seeing both her and Carl were from the Bronx and born in 1922, I can believe they went to high school together.

      Your Dad is a good guy, going out of his way to do all that Larry stuff for you.

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