Thursday, July 31, 2008


Buster Keaton
Originally uploaded by rattlingdjs

I jokingly call Buster Keaton (and Gram Parsons & Cary Grant) my dead boyfriend, or at least I use to. I find him immensely entertaining, and his films were phenomenal. Sense of comic timing - well - he's the original. He is comic timing.

My favorite movie is The Saphead, although I like the shorts, "The Playhouse," "One Week," and " Our Hospitality" as well. There's something about a person who can make you laugh without ever cracking a smile. Or by even looking happy, for that matter.

I read his biography, Cut to the Chase, by Marion Meade and in it she explained that one of the differences, a major one, between Chaplin, the far more famous of the film actors, and Keaton, was that Buster refused to appear poor. He didn't like the "tramp" image for himself, where Chaplin's characters always seemed to be on the skids. Buster wanted to appear intelligent and taken care of because he himself never had a formal education and was painfully aware of it. He grew up traveling with his family during the vaudeville era and was doing stage shows by the time he walked. His family's revue was even banned from some theaters because Joe, his father, would throw the child around so brutally, in such a feats of physical comedy, that they feared Buster would get killed. Strangely enough, later in life he visited a doctor to have him x-ray his neck and asked him when he had broken his neck. Buster said that he hadn't ever broken any part of his neck or vertebrae and the doctor laughed and said that the evidence showed otherwise.

True? I read it somewhere, but that doesn't mean anything. Still, I find this man hilarious and subtly sexy and you can't deny, looking into that face, that there is more than meets the eye. So here's my afternoon tribute to Buster Keaton - go play like a good Confederate soldier and stop the Yank invasion (The General) or stand stock still and let a house's facade fall around you while you pray that it falls where you stand perfectly under the open window (true story! He did his own stunt here, as in most places. Watch the movie Steamboat Bill, Jr.) or perhaps you can rent them from Netflix like I do and sit and be in love with a different era and type of comedy. As a testament to the accesibility of his work, I showed my three year old cousin and she stared without breaking her eyes from the screen; this child watched without sound or color and thought it was the best thing she'd ever seen.

Thanks Buster. I hate there aren't more like you today. We need a Great Stoneface of our generation.

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