A Buster Keaton rerun

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I have never before done a “repeat” on this blog, but today I have Buster Keaton on the brain. Tonight, Jacksonville’s Florida Theatre is celebrating its 90th (!) anniversary with a screening of Keaton’s feature film Steamboat Bill, Jr., complete with live orchestral accompaniment from local silent-film music expert Tony Steve.

(If you are in the Jacksonville area and can make it to the movie tonight, it starts at 7 p.m., and admission is free. Click here for more information.)

So I thought that today, I’d repeat a blog that I wrote two months ago as part of The Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon that was hosted by the delightful blog Silent-ology (which I highly encourage you to visit for some enjoyable and well-researched writing about silent movies). My blogathon entry sums up my love of Buster’s work and my feelings towards modern movies in general.

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Film blogger Jim Emerson once wrote that he could see “the end of cinema” – that is, a time down the road when he was entirely sick of going to the movies, having seen it all already. Emerson asked his readers, “Has there been a movie, or a development in movies, that made you feel like saying ‘That’s it! I’m done!’? Where would you draw the line?”

On at least some days, I would draw the line at May 20, 1928. That was the release date of Steamboat Bill, Jr., the final independently produced film of Buster Keaton.

Cinema has continued to thrive since that particular date, of course. But the essence of much of the reason I ever wanted to go to the movies stops right there.

I used to follow movie comedy religiously. But frankly, for the past couple of decades, the coming-attractions trailers have been enough to turn me off. Modern comedies seem interchangeable – the same geeky guys getting into over-their-head situations, either eager to get laid (American Pie) or wishing they hadn’t (Knocked Up), or dealing with situations that any double-digitted IQ would have avoided from the start (What Happens in Vegas, The Hangover).

And finally, there are the guys who seem to aspire to the old school, bringing a reliable persona to film after film. Except that the personas consist mostly of mugging it up (Jim Carrey) or dealing heavily in bodily functions (Adam Sandler).

When I look at all these guys, I just want to shake my head and tell them, “Buster Keaton. You lose.”

What is there to see in modern film comedy that I haven’t seen in Keaton’s best work?

Jim Carrey expects kudos for a bungee jump in Yes Man? Big deal. Try having a real-life two-ton wall fall down all around you, as Keaton did in Steamboat Bill, Jr.

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Eddie Murphy or Mike Myers doing multiple roles? Buster Keaton did nine perfectly timed versions of himself on-screen all at once, along with several other roles, in The Playhouse.

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Computer-generated special effects? Feh. Watch Keaton literally throw himself into a movie-within-a-movie in Sherlock Jr. (Woody Allen swears this movie wasn’t the inspiration for his own The Purple Rose of Cairo, in which a screen character leaves his movie and enters “real life.” Yeah, right.)

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Superhero Movie-type parody? In The Frozen North, Keaton laid waste to 1920’s Western star William S. Hart, making his entrance to the titular snowy territory via a subway kiosk.

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Emerson mentions that the late, great movie-bio author William K. Everson (“Who’s that?”, I hear the teenagers saying) had little interest in movies made past the early 1950’s, preferring to stick to the movie world he knew. Like a 21st-century Everson, I find little reason these days to venture beyond my PC, where I can toss in a DVD of Our Hospitality and watch a put-upon but stoic, almost epic comedian nearly kill himself, literally, for his laughs.

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THE APRIL SHOWERS BLOGATHON – Final Recap

Every shower must come to an end. It is with great regret, then, that we present

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If you missed Day 1 and/or Day 2, click on those days (highlighted in this sentence) to review those days’ blogathon entries. For today’s finale, click on each respective blog’s name to read his or her ‘thon contribution.

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The silent-film blog Movies Silently takes a fascinating look at an “actuality film” of The Seine Flood, a natural catastrophe that occurred in 1910 Paris.

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Musings of a Classic Film Addict tells how rain helps a nun (Claudette Colbert) uncover a secret from the past of a criminal (Ann Blyth) in Thunder on the Hill.

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Before any rain comes to end a Kansas drought, lightning definitely strikes Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn in The Rainmaker, as recounted by Moon in Gemini.

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More rain-soaked sparks fly between a young boy and Two English Girls, as Francois Truffaut’s film is blogged about by Cinematic Scribblings.

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And last but hardly least, Whimsically Classic critiques what is surely the sunniest rainy movie ever: Gene Kelly’s glorious-feeling musical Singin’ in the Rain.

This blog thanks all of the blogathon’s enthusiastic entrants and interested readers. We hope that we’ve helped to keep your head in the clouds for the past three days!

THE APRIL SHOWERS BLOGATHON – Day 2 Recap

Four more bloggers have contributed terrific blogs about movies with rainy weather — so it’s time to shout about

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If you missed the terrific entries from Day 1, click here to read them. For Day 2’s entries, click on the name of each individual blog to read their blogathon entry.

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Sister Celluloid notes how Celia Johnson is drenched with despair in Brief Encounter.

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Far happier are precipitation-covered Josh Lucas and Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama, as documented by ThoughtsAllSorts.

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lifesdailylessonsblog finds inspiration in a rain-soaked adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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And finally, Leonardo DiCaprio is unnerved by more than just rain in the thriller Shutter Island, as examined by Reelweegiemidget Reviews.

Looking for more wetness? We’ve got you covered. There’s still one more day left in our soggy blogathon, so keep us bookmarked for more entries to come!

 

THE APRIL SHOWERS BLOGATHON – Day 1 Recap

Ready for some fascinating blogs about movies with inclement weather? Well, don’t just stand out there in the rain! Come in and dry off as we present

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Only three of our many blogathon participants have thus far submitted their entries — maybe the rest got caught in the rain! We’ll hope for the best in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here are some good reads for you. (Click on each blog’s name to read their individual entries.)

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Caftan Woman appreciates the sight of Alan Ladd trudging through the rain to save the day in the classic Western Shane.

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The Midnite Drive-In notes that the futuristic thriller Blade Runner is soaked through with rain from start to finish.

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Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews feels for how often Forrest Gump gets rained on in life.

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And yours truly offers the rainy and oddly juxtaposed double feature of Buster Keaton’s silent short subject One Week and the musical cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Keep checking back with us over the next two days. We still have a dozen blogathon entries waiting in the wings!

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