Our Hospitality (1923) starring Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Roberts
Our Hospitality – Like his 1926 film The General, this elaborate historical comedy broadened the boundaries of slapstick and proved that Buster Keaton was not just a comedian, he was an artist. Keaton stars as youthful dreamer Willie McKay, who travels westward on a rickety locomotive to claim his birthright, only to find that his inheritance is a shack. And he learns that the object of his affection (Keaton s real-life wife, Natalie Talmadge) is the daughter of a man with whom his family has been engaged in a long, violent feud. McKay s personal struggles are punctuated by brilliant slapstick set pieces that involve an exploding dam, raging waterfalls, and a primitive steam engine. Keaton supervised the design and construction of the train, which he revived two years later for the short The Iron Mule (in which he appears without credit as an Native American chief).
This definitive edition of OUR HOSPITALITY features an exquisite orchestral score by Carl Davis, performed by the Thames Silents Orchestra; a documentary on the making of the film; and a rare alternate cut entitled Hospitality . SPECIAL FEATURES: Music composed and conducted by Carl Davis, performed by The Thames Silents Orchestra (in 5.1 Surround or 2.0 Stereo), Musical score compiled by Donald Hunsberger (2.0 Stereo), The Iron Mule (1925, 19 Min.), with music by Ben ModeL, Original documentary on the making of the film, written by film historian Patricia Eliot Tobias with David B. Pearson, Hospitality, a 49-minute alternate cut of the film, with an explanatory introduction, and an organ score by Lee Erwin, 2 Galleries: Photos & Snapshots
About the Actor
Buster Keaton (October 4, 1895 February 1, 1966) was an American comic actor and filmmaker. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname The Great Stone Face. Keaton was recognized as the seventh-greatest director of all time by Entertainment Weekly. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Keaton the 21st-greatest male actor of all time. Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton’s extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, [when] he worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies. Orson Welles stated that Keaton’s The General is the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made. A 2002 worldwide poll by Sight & Sound ranked Keaton’s The General as the 15th best film of all time. Three other Keaton films received votes in the magazine’s survey: Our Hospitality, Sherlock, Jr., and The Navigator
Trivia for Our Hospitality
- During the filming of the scene in which Buster Keaton is being swept downstream towards the waterfall, he was attached to a ‘holdback’ cable, concealed in the river. During the filming of the scene, the cable broke, and he was hurled down the rapids, battered by rocks and limbs, and was only barely able to grab an overhanging branch, which held him just long enough for the crew to reach and rescue him. This scene remains in the final print, and is fairly easy to spot. Just look for the point at which Keaton is being pulled downriver and 1) he suddenly looks back towards the camera, and 2) his speed in the water doubles, almost causing him to fly out of frame.
- The diminutive steam engine used in the film was a faithful, mechanically accurate re-creation of Stephenson’s Rocket. Equally accurate was the replica of the early bicycle ridden by Willie near the start of the film – so accurate, in fact, that according to Buster Keaton it was requested by the Smithsonian Institute for display.
- During the shooting of the climatic waterfall scene, Buster Keaton inhaled so much water that he had to have first aid.
- Final film of Joe Roberts, Buster Keaton’s career “heavy”. “Big Joe” suffered a stroke during the filming, and was hospitalized. He insisted on returning to work, however, and died very shortly after the end of filming.
- Final film of Natalie Talmadge, Buster Keaton’s real-life wife.