Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Buster Keaton In His Own Time

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Buster Keaton "can impress a weary world with the vitally important fact that life, after all, is a foolish inconsequential affair,"wrote critic Robert Sherwood in 1918. A century later Keaton, with his darkly comic "theater of the absurd," speaks to audiences like no other silent comedian. If you thought you knew Keaton --- think again. 

By closely researching the responses of 1920s critics, Gehring has discovered countless new insights about the comedian's 12 features made from 1923-1929. 

After a split chapter on THE THREE AGES and OUR HOSPITALITY, each feature receives a full chapter ---- which will give the reader both a broader and better understanding of the film. This will also involve many bombshells.
For example, learn how SHERLOCK, JR. started out to seemingly be a different and controversial picture. Discover where Buster's idea to walk into SHERLOCK, JR.'s screen appears to have come from. 

Take in the many period reasons why THE GENERAL could not help but fail. These would include its pioneering use of dark comedy, and that period's sacred perspective on the Civil War. That era seemed to think it ended in a tie. Therefore, one did not make comedies about the conflict, let alone a DARK COMEDY. Moreover, ponder how THE GENERAL might be the comedian's greatest film, but NOT the greatest KEATON film. Based on Keaton's prior work that honor better belongs to THE NAVIGATOR.
Consequently, this book invites a revisionist look at the study of an era that has been stuck in amber too long. The aforementioned Sherwood quote helps explain how Keaton went from almost more of a 1920s cult favorite, to today's most timely comedian of the silent era. Moreover, readers will receive new takes on John Bunny, Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon, and other 1920s personalities. It is well researched, but if you are also stuck in amber, one might recycle a signature line from Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to a bumpy ride."

Wes D. Gehring is a distinguished professor of film at Ball State University and associate media editor for USA Today magazine, for which he also writes the column "Reel World." He is the author of 37 film books, including biographies of James Dean, Carole Lombard, Steve McQueen, Robert Wise, Red Skelton and Charlie Chaplin.

No comments:

Post a Comment