Articles

Portrait of Buster Keaton, the great stone face, in his trademark hat

Low Comedy as a High Art

Low Comedy as a High Art, by Malcolm H. Oettinger – originally published in Picture-Play Magazine, March 1923

For a long time it was considered a breach of critical etiquette, if there be such a thing, to write of any one engaged in such a lowly sphere as that of comedy. It was little short of lese majesty to strum one’s lyre in praise of such funny fellows as Fred Mace, John Bunny, Mack Swain, and the then blooming Chaplin. Some few did it: venturesome souls, but as a general thing it was discouraged.

Times, capriciously enough, have changed. Today Charlot is hymned by the literati and the cognoscenti, the beautiful and the damning. The mere mention of his name is sufficient to start a feverish discussion in the highest circles, even including the well-known vicious one at the Algonquin. The critics have decided that the abominable movies have produced something worth while in this harlequin of the mustachios and baggy trousers. Five years hence they will discover Buster Keaton. In writing of the leading drolls of the flittering photos, it is tempting to take a leaf from Eugene Field’s “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” for it is conceded, almost without question, that the preeminent names today are Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd. (more…)

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Buster Keaton Joseph Francis Keaton) American Comic Actor Mainly in Silent Films

Buster Keaton can smile

Buster Keaton Can Smile and Yawn, Too, If He Wishes, by Gertrude Chase – originally published in the New York Telegraph on October 8, 1922

A small dark man stepped from the elevator at the Hotel Ambassador looking as solemn as an owl, which is the old-fashioned way of saying as solemn as Buster Keaton, for it was none other than the man without a smile. He followed us into the reception room and sat down with the deliberation of a patient setting himself in a dentist’s chair. Then he surprised us with a smile that would rank highly with any we have ever seen. (more…)

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Natalie and Buster Keaton - marriage

Buster Keaton’s marriage

Buster Keaton’s Marriage — Only Three Weeks – by Willis Goldbeck, originally published in Motion Picture, October 1921

“Silence is of the gods; only monkeys chatter.” I sat once in a famous theater in the London Haymarket, and heard that proverb drip from the oily tongue of an aged Chinese philosopher. It glittered for the moment on the surface of my mind and then sank into the depths; depths termed by a recently famous philosopher and theorist, the Unconscious. I sat, not very long ago, in Wonderful Harry’s restaurant, opposite the Metro Studio, in Hollywood, beside Buster Keaton, a recently famous comedian, and that proverb, lost for two years or more, rose again, uninvited, to the surface of my mind. If silence be of the gods, I thought, then Buster’s middle name is Zeus. (more…)

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Portrait of Buster Keaton, the great stone face, in his trademark hat

Buster Keaton tumbling to fame

Tumbling to Fame, by Malcolm H. Oettinger — originally published in Picture-Play Magazine, December 1920

If you’re a “big-time” vaudeville devotee you’ll remember “The Three Keatons.” You may not remember the name, but, if you ever saw them, you couldn’t forget the big comedy Irishman who used to pick up his five-year-old son by the back of the coat collar and hurl him across the stage into the middle of the back drop.

The animated football, known as “Buster” Keaton, and now grown up, is being featured in a new set of comedies about to be released by Metro. It was an easy step from the rough-and-tumble work of the vaudeville stage to screen comedies, and Buster is quite satisfied with the career for which he began in his infancy, for his first public appearance as a member of “The Three Keatons” was when, at the age of six weeks, he was carried onto the stage on a tray by his father! And Pa Keaton didn’t wait any longer than necessary to begin making more vigorous use of his young son and heir as comedy material. (more…)

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Buster Keaton and dog

Buster Keaton Bursts Into Stardom, by Grace Kingsley

Buster Keaton Bursts Into Stardom, by Grace Kingsley — originally published in the Los Angeles Times, May 16, 1920

“I gotta do some sad scenes. Why, I never tried to make anybody cry in my life! And I go ’round all the time dolled up in kippie clothes–wear everything but a corset! Can’t stub my toe in this picture nor anything! Just imagine having to play-act all the time without ever getting hit with anything!”

It was Buster Keaton, bleating out his sorrows about portraying Bertie, the Lamb at Metro. He is appearing in “The New Henrietta,” [“The Saphead“] prior to starting work on his new starring contract in comedies. (more…)

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