Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Neighbors (1920)

Oh don't fret, Buster gets even, over and over and over again!

Genre: Silent Family Comedy Romance Short

Starring: Buster Keaton (Convict 13; Hard Luck), Virginia Fox (The Love Nest; The Blacksmith)

Directed By: Edward F. Kline (The Bank Dick; The Frozen North), Buster Keaton (Daydreams; The Boat)

Overview: Like a modern Romeo and Juliet, this is a story of two star-crossed neighbors whose parents hate one another, but funny... and without all the killing...

Acting: After Buster himself, Joe Roberts, who played the daughter's father, was my favorite of the cast. He was also in Our Hospitality, and he does an even better job here. Melodramatic without being over the top, him, Buster, and all the cast are comic masters. Excellent direction.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: The main shot of the yard of the two houses with the laundry line between them is incredible. The simplicity and versatility of that set really makes for full attention on the players and all their antics and tomfoolery. I'm never disappointed with the stunt choreography either.
Rating: 8

Script: There were even a couple of groaners in this one. Puns normally make me think that a film is horrible, but it's not only forgivable here, it's actually kind of endearing. As for the telling of the tale without sinking too deep in the mire of too much dialogue? Terrific!
Rating: 8

Plot: This is a touch Comedy of Errors, a touch Romeo and Juliet and a lot of tricks and stunts and circus acts. As comedy shorts go, it's pretty regular for simplicity of plot: two neighbors want to get together but their parents are always at odds, and Buster invents little practical joke pranks to get his beloved's dad. Cute and funny.
Rating: 7

Mood: As with all Buster's stuff, he knows that what the audience came for is an action packed stunt ride. In this he manages to do a three man shoulder stand several times, and sets up a 'flyswatter', or a plank that swings back and forth hitting people in the head and in the rump constantly. Such classic stuff you could never find anywhere else. It's a shame that doing this today would be considered cliché, but all the best stuff is always remembered forever. Amazing!
Rating: 9

See this man's stunts and you'll know where Jackie Chan got his inspiration.

Overall Rating: 82% (Get To Know This One)

Aftertaste: This short was included along with Seven Chances, and though it's not a full feature, it's got a lot more laughs, especially when the cops get involved and Buster always trying to get away from them. The race humour (mud and black paint causes mistaken identity) might be a bit off, but if you see it as a comment on law enforcement the laughs double. It's great to be able to laugh at police sometimes. Actually, all the time...