The best Buster Keaton Films: 7 Times to enter World of a Comedy Master. Actor, director, author. Buster Keaton was all that and more. A specialist without brakes, a sophisticated predecessor of the more cinematic Johnny Knoxville, but also a poet and a visionary.
Best Buster Keaton Films
A pioneer who starred in a dazzling and brief career for eternity.
The Genius without Voice
Chaplin said, about the tremendous catastrophe that the arrival of the sound meant for silent films, that “just when we began to dominate it, it was over.” It is still hard to assimilate, and we don’t know how many revolutions the seventh art has already lived.
But it was not only the arrival of sound, nor that of color, that ended the brilliant career of the heir to the empire of Roscoe Arbuckle. The problems with the drink and, above all, the abuse to which he was subjected by the great studies (hello, MGM), made Keaton pass from superman to poor devil.
With regard to the Peter Bogdanovich documentary that now arrives in our theaters, we will complement that work with seven indispensable titles, both in short and feature films, of one of the greatest of all time.
Children, don’t try it at home.
One week (1920)
Between 1920 and 1923, Keaton made nineteen short films under the production of Joseph M. Schenck. ‘A week’ is considered as Keaton’s first solo short film. In a way it is a fact, because it was the first to be released. However, he had previously shot ‘The bodyguard’, a job he felt was not strong enough for his solo debut. And Keaton was right. ‘One Week’ is a great movie (short) to debut.
The film is about a newly married couple who are given a “build your own house” kit and a plot of land. That type of prefabricated house was fashionable then, and the parody film does not leave a puppet with a head on its satire, something that Keaton did on more than one occasion.
A comic nightmare with the air of MC Escher and a planning that already warned that behind (and in front of) the camera there was a talent with one foot in the cartoons and another in the cemetery of the brave.
Any day we see a delivery of ‘Mission Impossible‘ where Tom Cruise dares to replicate this impossible movement, but for now, almost a hundred years later, we have not seen him again.
Our Hospitality, 1923
After debuting in the world of the film with ‘The Three Ages’, where he parodied Griffith (do you see it?), Keaton creates his first outstanding feature film with his classic “fish out of water” within a premise that would give for an excellent comedy Black right now.
New Yorker Willie McKay receives a letter that says he must travel south to claim his father’s inheritance. Your euphoria will vanish when you discover the dark history of the family. A black comedy full of evil.
The Navigator (1924)
Let’s talk about perfectionism: it is worth highlighting a couple of details about the production of the film. Keaton often liked to give his films an atmospheric environment, so that nature played an important role in the narration. In the case of ‘The Navigator’, the Keaton production team acquired a 150-meter ocean liner that was about to be scrap , and most of the film is aboard this ship.
And the ship is a key character in the story. The other data of the production corresponds to Donald Crisp, who officially appears as co-director of the film. The relationship between them was dire and Keaton worked almost alone. With those powders a classic was marked. It was that big.
The modern Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Jr., 1924)
Although ‘The General’ is Keaton’s “best film”, we are legion who believe that the top work of his filmography is this extraordinary dreamlike odyssey full of unheard-of tricks that opened up endless possibilities still exploited today.
Cinema within cinema within dreams and a constant nod to the creation of Conan Doyle make of its scarce three-quarters of an hour what is probably the ideal film to begin in the filmography of Keaton.
The General’s machinist (The General, 1926)
Keaton’s considered masterpiece is for good reason. All his idiosyncrasy is exposed to the highest level , and also at full speed: his ingenious fusion real drama and evasive cinematic action, his classic narrative design of “man on a mission”, all possible physical and emotional obstacles and the damn war of background.
The physical obstacles are, of course, provided by a locomotive that even the Marx Brothers could not shade. That train is one of the great characters of all time, which certainly fits.
The Hero of the River (Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928)
Buster Keaton’s catastrophe movie bets on a third mad act that has not yet been overcome a damn century later. Not a single variant of absolute entertainment remains without going through the screen. Impossible to offer more in seventy minutes.
The last classic and personal film of Keaton before arriving at the studios that would begin to dynamite and limit his ingenuity in a test he could never overcome.