Monday, November 7, 2011

Second [and third] Verse, Same as the First

I'm combining the Our Hospitality and Sherlock, Jr. posts because I'm going to say the exact same thing about both. For the purposes of this list, we only need one Buster Keaton film. So far we've had these two and Steamboat Bill, Jr. and all three have the same basic plot that is too thin to support a film-length narrative (even when that film is only 44 minutes long as with Sherlock, Jr.), all three have the same physical comedy (exact same stunts in some cases), all three serve the same purpose for this list, and none of the three offer anything new to talk about. I posted about  Steamboat Bill, Jr. here and think I was overly generous now that I've seen three Keaton films. Two, any two of the three really, are extraneous. I can only hope that 3 of 1001 is all of the Keaton we're going to get.

How does the book justify making us watch the same thing three times? About Sherlock, Jr., the book argues that this film
is a remarkable achievement, possessing a tightly integrated plot, stunning athleticism (Keaton did all his own stunts, unknowingly breaking his neck during one of them), artistic virtuosity, and an avant-garde exploration of the perennial dichotomy of reality versus illusion
Of course, the book also claims the film moves at a "fever pitch." My response is "eh." I just don't care. If this were the only Keaton film on the list, then fine. And, of the three, I *think* I'd choose this one to keep.

For Our Hospitality, the book stretches to claim that "[m]uch of the humor . . . derives from a darkly ironic situation . . . [and] the result is not only very funny, but also dramatically substantial and suspenseful" and concluding that "[n]ever was Keaton's sense of timing so miraculous, his ability to elicit laughter and excitement and simultaneously so gloriously evident." Mmmmkay. I failed to see the irony, the humor, the substance, and the suspense.

Tracy? Do we need all of these Keaton films?

Unfortunately, we have two more Keaton-directed films on the list (who knows how many more Keaton might star in): Seven Chances (1925) and The General (1927).

1 comment:

  1. The book is out of its mind. I'm sorry, but modern viewers are just not going to find suspense or breakneck (literally I guess, heh) action in a silent film. I found everything about it shallow--the plot, the characters, everything. I do agree one Keaton would suffice, just to get the idea, but then we need to