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Buster Keaton shorts

Posted by martinteller on March 4, 2013

Cops starts out with Buster’s gal telling him she doesn’t want anything to do with him until he becomes a big businessman.  Through a fortunate, zany series of events, he comes into some furniture he hopes to make a profit on.  But then he interrupts a policeman parade and gets every cop in the city chasing him.  I didn’t really find much of this that funny, but the ladder gag is pretty great.  The opening is interesting in that it shows the transitory, “easy come, easy go” nature of material possessions.  And the ending ramps up nicely to full-blown chaos.  But I felt bad for that family who lost all their stuff, there really should have been some kind of button on that.  Rating: Fair (68)


The Play House was more my speed.  The opening marks a link between Méliès and the Oscar Levant sequence in An American in Paris, as Buster dreams of being the orchestra, talent, crew and audience in the theater where he works as a lowly stagehand.  It’s delightful (except for some blackface bits) and inventive.  After he wakes up, it becomes pretty much just gag-gag-gag without much forward momentum plotwise… but the gags are consistently funny enough to make up for the lack of a narrative throughline.  Again, events reach absurd proportions as a small water tank ends up flooding out the entire room.  I still would place One Week as Keaton’s best short, but this one is pretty solid.  Rating: Good (75)


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