Monday, July 24, 2006

Squish's Buster Keaton Silent Shorts Review Part II (1921-1923)

Well hello, hello again! The dramatic conclusion to the much-awaited Buster Keaton Shorts Review Part I.

Thanks to the wonderful generosity of a certain Monsieur Charbonneau, I've seen EVERY silent short Buster Keaton has EVER directed, so let me say a big "Thank You!" to him for that, and without further ado...

Genre: Silent Comedy, sometimes a touch of Romance, and even Romantic Comedy from time to time.

Starring: Buster Keaton (Go West; Our Hospitality)

Directed By: Buster Keaton and sometimes Edward F. Cline (The Bank Dick)

The Paleface (1921) is one of the cuter shorts he's done. When an oil company steals land rights from the nearby native Indian tribe, they vow to kill the first white man who comes through their gate? Take a wild guess who comes roaming by? This film is chock full of funny moments, as long as you take a moment to forgive the stereotypes... 82%

In The Electric House (1922), we find a man who ant his house electrified with gadgets and gizmos to facilitate easy living. Buster installs an escalator, and sets up an automatic pool ball racker, as well as a dinner service delivered by miniature train. If you like Buster's little inventions as much as I do, this is ripe with em. When an angry competitor gets into the master control room to sabotage the place though, that's good times too. 82%

Daydreams (1922) has a love-stuck Keaton vowing to the father of his beloved that he will go to the city and make it big or come back and kill himself. Soon the letters come, describing his progress, like 'cleaning up on wall street' where he's merely a street sweeper, and that sort of thing. This is classic slapstick tomfoolery and a really great short. 78%

Cops (1922) starts off with Buster being a good Samaritan by returning a man's wallet. When the man he helps turns out to be rude, he steals the wallet, and out of the kindness of his heart, buys furniture from a man pretending to have been thrown out. Unwittingly, he steals the furniture of the actual owners and somehow ends up getting chased by every cop in the city, during a policeman's parade. Funny stuff, and one heck of a quirky ending. 76%

My Wife's Relations (1922) has our hero caught up accidentally married to a woman, who promptly takes him home to her big and tall family. Here he learns to get bounced around and miss out on meals and sleep until he gets wise and devises his own plans to survive in this household. 74%

The Blacksmith (1922) has Keaton as just that, but he's quite the bungler. He manages to trash cars and equipment as well as horses in this one, but he also has a couple neat inventions, like a saddle with shocks to prevent saddle-sores. 78%

The Frozen North (1922) seems very out of character for Buster. In it, he robs a casino and actually murders two people, then realizing his mistake says "Oh, this isn't my wife OR my house!". There is ice fishing, snow shoeing and jealous fits of rage and though a little different from his standard, still quite enjoyable. 76%

The Baloonatic (1923) is not one of my favorites, but it does have a few laughs. Buster ends up taking a hot air balloon trip and crashes in the wilderness, when he must survive, but finds himself instead competing with the woman camping across the way, including catching food and canoeing. 66%

The Love Nest (1923) is another aquatic tale where our poor lady-rejected man goes out to sea, only to be 'recruited' onto a whaling ship run by a ruthless captain. Many scenes involve people getting thrown off the ship, followed by the overboard tossing of a funeral wreath. This one's great. 80%

So there you have it, pretty much ever short Buster Keaton ever did in the days of the Silent Era. There's another one down... Now I know what Grissom meant when he said that his favorite genre was Silent... As my study draws to a close, I miss it more and more.