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Messages - Paul Pain

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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 / Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 14, 2017, 04:56:37 AM »
      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.

I think he was just being goofy as those kinds of cards were common as dirt in that era.

Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: Our Hospitality (1923) - Buster Keaton
« on: October 13, 2017, 10:09:38 AM »
How did we all review this without mentioning Buster's version of "New York City, 1830"?????

General Discussion / Re: Larry Fine and my dad
« on: October 12, 2017, 04:54:42 AM »
Hiram, thanks for sharing your heart-warming tale.

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.

Paul, I'm curious. Assuming you own a TV, do you have both cable and DVR? On Wednesday, they're showing Keaton films on TCM to celebrate his birthday and several of them are his MGM films.

No  [cry]

I would eventually love to do the MGM and Educational shorts too, assuming Umbrella Sam has access and can participate.  I have an idea where I'd review those and have a way to keep Paul active too, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. We have time to plan this out.

Umbrella Sam, I'm assuming you have access to the MGM and Educational shorts, right?

I can get many of the Educational shorts on YouTube.  Last week, I asked if folks wanted to do the Educationals, and no one answered!  If you're looking for a new project, feel free to take over that phase.  Columbia's are mine though!  [pie]

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]

Yeah, things are normal.  Get ready for THE LOVE NEST review; I probably will do it this evening.

Pasco County is north of Tampa, right?  I've seen it on Cops, but I never have figured out quite where it is.

Yep!  It's the county immediately north of Tampa!  So, there're about 3 and a half hours between us!

I was Irma'ed too.  I live in Naples, Fl.  House seriously damaged.  One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.  I'm only back on line for the first time today.

Big Chief, I'm glad to hear that you're all right!  I'm surprised to discovered that, in our tiny little group here, we have two Floridians!  But I'm up in Pasco County.

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]

Yeah, it's all good now, but I was without power for 3 days.

Apologies folks, but I was Irma'd.  Reviews resume this Saturday.

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]

General Discussion / Re: 2017 MLB Thread
« on: August 21, 2017, 08:08:18 AM »
We've seen the Red Sox throw away bigger leads with fewer games left.

Everyone's fawning over the Dodgers, but come October we're getting treated to the standard Clayton Kersh!+ that shows up every October.  The 2001 Mariners seemed invincible too, and they won the World Series were the biggest playoff disappointment possibly of all-time.

Weekly Episode Discussions / Re: The Frozen North (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: August 20, 2017, 03:09:50 PM »
As far as Laurel and Hardy gag, you got me on that one, though when someone points it out to me, I'm sure I'll smack my head because I should've known the answer.

In BIG BUSINESS, we see Ollie hitting the breakables with a shovel, which he smashes baseball bat style.   [3stooges]

As an amateur web developer in my own right, not only do I thank you for all you do for this site but I also thank you for your programming patience and zen.

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]

Actually, that's his old man - also named Monte Collins - who appears in some other Keaton flicks.

You are correct.  A source I saw had claimed it was the Columbia Collins, even going so far as to specify that he was not the elder Collins.  Now, since you have gone so far as to do this work, can we implore you to do a review for us?

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 / Re: Cops (1922) - Buster Keaton
« on: August 03, 2017, 12:28:23 PM »
      Probably Keaton's most famous short film.  Definitely a classic, and with seven silent shorts left it's usually the shorts up to and including COPS that are considered Keaton's best.  After this, the shorts, while still very good and worth discussing, don't remain as consistently awesome as we have been viewing so far.  Some say Keaton was itching to do features at this point.  Who knows?

I think many of the remaining ones are quite, although the only stinkers among his silent shorts are among these final seven.

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