Buster Keaton: Until he said 'cut' or was killed
April 25, 2007 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Joseph Frank Keaton Jr. was born into vaudeville. He quickly became a popular and controversial part of his family's stage act; an act that had his father violently hurling the "disobedient" child across the stage into scenery, the orchestra pit, or even into the audience, only to see him emerge amazingly unharmed. After the boy took an unplanned and particularly clamorous fall down a hotel stairwell, an astonished Harry Houdini cried out to the parents, "What a buster your kid took!" And thus, as legend has it, did little Joseph Frank Keaton Jr. become Buster Keaton.

At 22, Keaton made his cinematic debut with mentor Fatty Arbuckle. Afterward, he immediately founded Buster Keaton Studios, releasing a series of brilliant short (and later longer) comedies. Dozens of these are freely available to stream or download at the Internet Archive, including Steamboat Bill Jr, Convict 13, The Electric House, and his seminal The General (alt), which, despite completely failing at the box office, would be later hailed by many as one of the greatest films of all time. [more inside]
posted by churl (58 comments total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
[Warning, Youtube ahoy]
Unlike his contemporaries Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin, Keaton performed every one of his own (sometimes wildly dangerous) stunts in his own films -- sometimes, even those of his co-stars. But what most famously set Keaton apart was his stoic, stone-faced expression -- a difference that can be appreciated in Keaton's rare, brief, and underutilized guest appearance in Chaplin's 1952 film "Limelight". However, despite his "uncanny knack" for knowing when one was pointed at him, the cameras were able to occasionally catch The Great Stone Face smiling.

His most prolific and inspired days ended when he gave up his own studio to work for the booming MGM. He lost creative control, began taking roles he didn't like, and fell into a series of bitter divorces and periods of deep alcoholism. But Buster sobered up and lived to see a newfound respect for his performances -- and for his treatment of the medium as a true art form -- before he passed away in 1966. "I think I have had the happiest and luckiest of lives. Maybe this is because I never expected as much as I got," he said. "And when the knocks came I felt it was no surprise. I had always known life was like that, full of uppercuts for the deserving and the undeserving alike."
posted by churl at 7:55 PM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

He is remembered by many, including Roger Ebert, Entertainment Weekly and The AFI, as one of the greatest actors and directors to have ever lived.
posted by churl at 7:56 PM on April 25, 2007

Thanks for this. Anything about Buster is fixable...

Great story once someone coming to his house wanting to look at his store of old films. Buster opens up the (highly flammable) nitrate reels chainsmoking. The fellow was frightened but Buster took waved away his concern.
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:05 PM on April 25, 2007

He rocks, and didn't have stuntmen to fill in, like they do now. That clock sequence with him hanging off the hands is unbelievable. His timing was perfect (or at least always seemed to be)

thanks for this! : >
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on April 25, 2007

Little known fact: his family's act was known as "The Aristocrats."
posted by papakwanz at 8:27 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

The famous clock sequence was actually his also-pretty-ballsy contemporary Harold Lloyd, in Safety Last!
posted by churl at 8:28 PM on April 25, 2007

(oh, i'm mortified now! sorry about that!)
posted by amberglow at 8:32 PM on April 25, 2007

Great post, thanks for this. This should keep me busy for hours.
posted by threetoed at 8:40 PM on April 25, 2007

My very favorite Buster Keaton movie is actually "Film," his 1965 collaboration with Samuel Beckett. It's a return to silence, and brings together these two ostensibly unlikely partners through a marvelous sequence of encounters and images...
The film ends with the now-old Keaton (I think "Film" was made just before he died), who plays an anonymous, quintessential Beckett-type figure, at home in a rocking chair, having secluded himself from the movie's panoply of eyes. And finally achieving some sort of solace, he sits alone...and we see with him as he looks through stills of what we realize was him as a young man, at images that were among the first images to be seen by eyes en masse in theaters.

YouTube'd here.
InternetArchive'd here.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:42 PM on April 25, 2007 [3 favorites]

Great post. I go through phases on whether I think Chaplin, Keaton, or Lloyd is better. It is wonderful that a lot of what those three did is freely available.
posted by Falconetti at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2007

Buster's shorts were funnier than anyone's. The best ones, like One Week, The High Sign, and The Scarecrow, are for my money the most hilarious physical comedy that's ever been done. Chaplin had his artistry, but Keaton's character was, ultimately, a more sympathetic one, and his stuff had more real laughs in it.

If you can find the Thames documentary Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, you'll get a fine picture of him (I cherish my old laserdisc copy) and of the times - how he broke his neck falling off a trackside water tower in a scene, took a couple of days off, and finished filming. It was 13 years later that a doctor saw an x-ray and informed him of the break.

There was no one like Buster.
posted by QuietDesperation at 8:45 PM on April 25, 2007

There was once a documentory about Buster Keaton. Some of the things it mentioned:
MGM studios made some big hits with a number of wisecracking comedies after silent films went to sound. It tried to shoe-horn this physical comedian into this format and it didn't work. Buster Keaton told the studio heads that 'you've ruined my character'.

Much later he was rediscovered, but he didn't realize it yet. He was in a theater in France when they were showing one of his movies in a revival. He and his wife went, thinking that a few people would show up for nostalgia's sake. The theater was packed. Most people didn't even realize he was still alive. Someone recognized him and announced that he was in the theater after the movie. Everyone stood up and gave him a long standing ovation.

It is good that he got rediscovered before he died. He deserved it.
posted by eye of newt at 9:03 PM on April 25, 2007

Buster is, really, a natural genius. The most one learns the better he is.

Check out some of his talkies for the disorienting experience of hearing his middle American (Michigan?) croak. The movie he made for the Canadian National railway at the end of his life, The Railrodder is well worth checking out - esp for the documentary it includes, which shows Buster talking through some gags and how best to stage them. I love it like it was a movie of my own grandfather.

Also, if you listen to the commentaries on Futurama, Matt Groening at one point says that part of his motivation for designing a lot of gags for Fry is Buster's quote that "the audience loves a slow thinker".

See the General with live musicians accompanying it, if it's ever playing at a theater in your area - really worth it.

(Also, if you see Hot Fuzz, the new movie from the guys who made Shaun of the Dead: take note of how much Simon Pegg the main guy is doing a Buster impression for the first half of the movie...)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:05 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

And I almost forgot, Buster Keaton was in an episode of "The Twilight Zone" where he played this goofy inventor who goes back in time and finds it more miserable than he thought it would be.
posted by eye of newt at 9:07 PM on April 25, 2007

LobsterMitten, you're right about The Railrodder's accompanying documentary. I love when Buster is staging the gag with an oncoming train (!) and the director is petrified that he'll go down in history as the man who killed Buster Keaton. Keaton is wonderfully offhand about it all, telling them to run the other train toward his handcar and he'll time it so it switches away at the last second. Businesslike, matter-of-fact, and the result is hilarious.
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:13 PM on April 25, 2007

A Hard Act To Follow is an amazing retrospective on Keaton's genius. By the same writers, don't miss - Harold Lloyd, The Third Genius. Wonderful stuff.

Cool post and thread!
posted by vronsky at 9:14 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Two other notes:
his (abusive) dad Joe Keaton appears in several of his films.

Be sure to see Sherlock Jr. Unbeatable for sheer technical inventiveness (really, think of the "hacker" aspect of early filmmaking - even though some of it might seem obvious now, they were figuring out how to accomplish these effects), and a couple of stunts that will leave you breathless.

Also, for those nerds who are my age, remember the X-files episode Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, a reference to Buster's collaborator Clyde Bruckman; also contains a bunch of other silent comedy references, eg to J.C. Havez
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:16 PM on April 25, 2007

And bear in mind that these films are available from a lot of video rental places -- it's fantastic that they are free on the web, but they're very much worth seeing at larger resolutions too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:20 PM on April 25, 2007

I've got the full DVD collection of his work, and his best work is unstoppable. The General is, without a doubt, an incredibly enjoyable film, and so are many others.

One of the more surreal moments of my life was sitting at a table, watching one of his silent films on my laptop, and realizing what he might have thought about that.
posted by davejay at 9:30 PM on April 25, 2007

Thankfully, there's a metric ton of Keaton for viewing on the web. One of the great masters, brilliant! His straight-faced, deadpan delivery of physical humor remains unequalled.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:38 PM on April 25, 2007

In Sherlock Jr, watch from about 15:00 to about 15:30 to see the scene where Buster literally breaks his neck and the scampers off.

30:30 to about 41:30 is most of the "action" scenes of the movie.

33:03 is a close-up of an actor Keaton worked with several times, whose name I don't know but who has one of the most distinctive noses ever in Hollywood.

37:37 to 37:47 is, to my mind, the most impressive stunt. Buster is riding on the handlebars of a motocycle with no driver - but he thinks his friend is driving. He drives pell-mell through the city, and now comes to a high bridge with a gap in it. Will he make it across the gap?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:00 PM on April 25, 2007

Good lord, there's so many great ones, but one of my all-time faves from Keaton is One Week. That ending bit with the oncoming train and the house stuck on the tracks, it's just such a perfect little portrait of the absurdity and unpredictability of life.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:13 PM on April 25, 2007

Who has two thumbs and loves Buster Keaton more than anyone else in the world?
posted by squidfartz at 10:29 PM on April 25, 2007

"Everyone stood up and gave him a long standing ovation."

The Paramount Theater has regular screenings of silents here in Seattle, and I have had the pleasure of seeing many of the full-length Keatons here in restored prints with a large live audience and a master of silent-film accompanists, Dennis James, at the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Rare indeed has been the Keaton which did not end with the audience leaping to their feet in frenzied adulation. The films are simply stunning experiences. The scene in "The Camerman" in which he wrestles his recalcitrant tripod for what seems to be forty-five minutes is one of the most astonishing things one can ever witness, as is the near-literally forty-five minute chase at the end of "Seven Chances." That chase scene is said to have directly formed Chuck Jones' later understanding of comedy on film and led to the Roadrunner cartoons.

This upcoming Monday the series kicks off four Mondays devoted to Harold Lloyd.

I, for one, welcome our silent-screen overlords.

posted by mwhybark at 10:32 PM on April 25, 2007

Yay! Thanks for all the Buster Keaton links.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:00 PM on April 25, 2007

Never heard the story of his youth. It reminds me of two guys I know - Stewart and Arnold, father and son knifethrowers. The son was a little older than me, and literally grew up performing with knives. They're real nice guys, both of them.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:09 PM on April 25, 2007

Why was The Phantom Menace a latter-day embodiment of suck?* Not only did they rip off homage rip off the rockslide sequence from Seven Chances, the entire "Non-combatant bumbles around the battlefield wiping out the enemy" sequence extensively quotes the last act of The General. Jar-Jar Binks IS Buster Keaton! Twice! Arrgh!

*There are, of course, other reasons.
posted by ormondsacker at 11:37 PM on April 25, 2007

Uh, the Silent Movie Theatre first opened in LA in 1942--my dad remembers going there. I haven't been back since Charlie Lustman sold it, but looking online it seems like the new owners are keeping it true to its original purpose.
posted by brujita at 11:51 PM on April 25, 2007

big fan. The General is on my notional list of Top One Hundred films, at somewhere around 45 or 46.
posted by johnny novak at 12:45 AM on April 26, 2007

I had a chance to witness "The General" when I was in college, at the "campus theatre" in lewisburg, pa (http://www.thecampustheatre.com/). They also got the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra to play, which was a collection of musicians, started by a guy who fished out the original scores of a huge collection of silent files from a dumpster, the result of of warehouse in new jersey being renovated.

It was an amazing experience, a live, real orchestra, with a dvd playing the film (best cut available). I do miss the campus theatre, their projector was still using the original 1940 era motor to drive the film, because it was the only thing that could handle the old and new films properly. They even got library of congress prints as part of a national film festival.

Also, for anyone who has seen Grindhouse, they *still* use one of the "coming attractions" and "feature presentation" banners that you see in grindhouse, at the campus theatre. I nearly pissed myself in excited when I saw that all the way out here in seattle.

Thanks again metafilter, for filling up my netflix and download queue's with films i need to see (and now I have to see hot fuzz again and compare it with a buster keaton film).
posted by mrzarquon at 1:23 AM on April 26, 2007

Wow glad to see such a great thread come of this. I'm a relatively recent Keaton fanatic, but I wanted to do him proper. A thousand thanks for fixing my format problem on the frontpage. (unfortunately, the post title somehow got truncated in the process: it was Buster Keaton: Until he said "Cut" or was killed. No biggie though.)

Especially glad to see everyone mention their personal favorites. I knew Steamboat Bill Jr and The General had to be linked from the main post, but I chose the other two sort of at random -- the last two I watched, I think. Great to hear why people love the ones they do. Sadly, a personal favorite The Navigator is not at archive.org, nor anywhere else I can find.

A couple bits and pieces that brevity demanded be left out of the post:
- The archive.org link for "The General" starts about 10 minutes into the movie. It is also a way oversaturated sepia. The alternate Google Video link is the entire thing in beautiful black and white, but it is also over-compressed and chunky. Couldn't find a best-of-both-worlds link, sadly.
- From wikipedia: "Joe Keaton Sr. disapproved of the moving pictures, thinking them to be little more than a fad. Buster was also unsure of the medium. During his first meeting with Arbuckle, he asked to borrow one of the cameras to get a feel for how it worked. Buster promptly took the camera back to his hotel room and disassembled it. With this rough understanding of the mechanics of the moving pictures, Buster returned the next day, dissected camera in hand, asking for work." This anecdote is popular in reviews as a lead-in for describing his intimate understanding of film as a medium, and more than just pointing a camera at something funny. It is also awesome.
- Steamboat Bill, Jr was the inspiration for another famous black-and-white landmark, Steamboat Willie.
- Buster Keaton maintained that his dad was never abusive, and that disbelieving doctors would inspect him in every town after the act but never find a bruise on him. The jury may still be out on that one, though; he's discussed in at least one prominent book on child abuse. His dad was most certainly an alcoholic, and the reason the stage act eventually fell apart.
- My other favorite anecdote: the now-legendary shot in Steamboat Bill, Jr where the facade of a house falls on him, but he is saved by standing exactly where the attic window lands, was shot on the first run-through. Knowing he would surely be crushed if he was only a couple inches off the mark, Keaton's prop team was planning on doing a test run; learning this, Buster said "Why waste a wall?"
- For my money, 21:35 into Steamboat Bill, Jr is the best pratfall ever.
posted by churl at 1:56 AM on April 26, 2007

One of my favorite Keatons is The Playhouse, which opens with a dazzlling minstrel show in which Buster plays every role, and which includes a gut-busting sequence where Buster has to imitate an orangutang. When my kids were younger we used to watch that bit over and over and howl every time. For some really wonderful photos of Keaton, check out Buster Keaton Remembered (the publisher also did a great Harold Lloyd book).
posted by Man-Thing at 4:35 AM on April 26, 2007

Oh you kid I adore Buster Keaton. Fabulous post!

If you're a fan and are anywhere near the area and can swing it, I highly, highly recommend the (free!) annual Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, Kansas. It's held in a fantastic spacious theatre, and every year they get in the wonderful Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra to accompany his films. It's two days packed full of films from Buster and his contemporaries, and often excellent speakers on same. The last year I attended, I got to see Steamboat Bill, Jr. and The General on the big screen, as well as some great other features (memorably, Safety Last! and The It Girl) and shorts (did you know that before they started talking that Laurel & Hardy were actually hilarious? I didn't). I love clapping at the end of movies, dang it, and these are ones worth clapping for.

And if Iola's just too far away, there's always the Damfinos conventions. I've never been, but a contingent always shows up at Iola, and they're a fun group, as one would expect from Buster people.

Good god but I am a giant nerd.
posted by melissa may at 4:55 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wonderful stuff, thank you very much.
posted by Wolof at 5:55 AM on April 26, 2007

I had (and still have) a jean jacket with Buster's face on the back of it (from a famous shot out of Go West) painted by a friend. It got quite a positive response back in University.

Hard to pick a favourite but I always recommend Sherlock Jr., Cops, and the Navigator (in addition to pretty much anything else.)
posted by juiceCake at 6:11 AM on April 26, 2007

Keaton was the greatest, Lloyd second, Chaplin third. If nothing else (too sugary at times) Chaplin was too stingy in his output. Keaton put out several movies a year until MGM/alcoholism destroyed him.

I read his autobiography - an interesting work. He loved Fatty Arbuckle a lot and was hurt by his downfall. He loved his father even though his childhood made him part of an act that was about how funny child abuse was. He told the story of an Ivy Leaguer who stood up during the show and complained about the act - and Buster's father threw Buster at him, hitting him in the stomach.

The reason there has never been another like him is because physical comedy was the language he learned - more than English - as a child. And in silent movies, it was all the language he needed. We can have a Tiger Woods, maybe another Mozart someday, probably some more Michael Jacksons, but we're not going to have another child prodigy of physical schtick - I suspect the family responsible today would be put in jail.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:34 AM on April 26, 2007

..and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.

The General was based on a true story from the Civil War. Keaton wanted to use the actual General for the movie, but wasn't able to. The movie is from 1927; 80 years ago, and 62 years after the Civil War.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2007

Great post, thanks.
posted by Huplescat at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2007

The best filmgoing experience of my life was going to see Sherlock Jr. at the Olympia Film Festival with a real live orchestra. The place was packed to the rafters, and the entire crowd was just into it. Every joke, every gag just building and building until the place just almost literally exploded from laughter.

I think I'm going to have to take melissa may's advice and visit Kansas someday.
posted by ssmith at 9:00 AM on April 26, 2007

Great post! Keaton also has a cameo (with a spoken line) in Sunset Blvd., which is appropriate considering the other legends of the silent era in that movie.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 9:56 AM on April 26, 2007

Great post! Keaton is God as far as I'm concerned.
posted by brundlefly at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2007

Nifty post. I started getting Keaton stuff from the library and I’ve been hooked ever since.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2007

Still posting on Buster? Why not.

Facts: Seven Chances bombed on first viewing (in truth, most people don't find it among his better ones) but Buster noticed that a falling rock got a laugh during the last brief chase scene, so he shot an extended chase scene and put it in to save the film.

He told his camerman he wanted multiple Busters onscreen in The Playhouse. Using the masking/rewinding/remasking technique, the cameraman said he could have two, maybe three Busters on a screen simultaneously. Buster wanted eleven - and got them!
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:31 PM on April 26, 2007

This is totally what Stephin Merritt will look like in, oh, about five years.

Great post :-)
posted by mykescipark at 4:44 PM on April 26, 2007

Keaton was the greatest, Lloyd second, Chaplin third.

Right enough, though where can we put Fatty Arbuckle?

As to later work, he did a nice turn as Erronius in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
posted by IndigoJones at 4:57 PM on April 26, 2007

> Right enough, though where can we put Fatty Arbuckle?

Not sure where he'd rank, but I'd lump him in the "underappreciated" category. (For example, not everyone knows he invented the "roll dance" years before Chaplin made it famous.) Here's a wonderful picture of him with Buster.
posted by churl at 6:08 PM on April 26, 2007

I think Max Linder is funnier than Chaplin. Unfortunately, his death was rather tragic.
posted by hyperizer at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2007

This post is being praised over at MetaTalk.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:46 PM on April 26, 2007

"Think slow. Act fast." -- BK

All it took was a marvelous, positive thread about Buster Keaton to finally smoke me out on MetaFilter after all these quiet months. (Thanks, Huplescat!) Indeed half of the pseudonym I've been using for the past few years on various Websites comes from this man (guess where the other half comes from).

Speaking as a washed-up award winning college film critic, I can tell you that The General helped me develop an appreciation for the narrative form in ways that dozens of literature courses could never do.
posted by BusterWilbury at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thank you for catching that, LobsterMitten.
posted by churl at 3:36 PM on April 27, 2007

Let me third the recommendation for Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (makers Brownlow & Gill also made docs on Chaplin and Lloyd; they're all outstanding).

Keaton performed every one of his own (sometimes wildly dangerous) stunts in his own films

With one exception: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. A Hard Act to Follow revealed that Keaton was doubled in some of the shots, although he still ran full speed into a tree. And he was in his 70s by that point ...
posted by pmurray63 at 10:45 PM on April 27, 2007

You're right, I think Keaton used a double in at least a couple of his later MGM films. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was the last movie he appeared in.

However, in his own films (i.e. the ones he wrote and produced, in his heyday before MGM) I believe he would always, without exception, do his own stunts. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!
posted by churl at 2:23 AM on April 28, 2007

Chaplin was too stingy in his output


Unlike his contemporaries Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin, Keaton performed every one of his own (sometimes wildly dangerous) stunts

Chaplin used stuntmen? I've never heard this before. Do you have a source. I'm pretty sure he did most of his own stunts.
posted by grumblebee at 2:52 PM on April 29, 2007

grumblebee, I was referring to feature films. Chaplin did churn out one reelers. And I hate to say it, but movies before 1920 were technically deficient compared to movies 1920 and beyond.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:33 PM on April 29, 2007

From Tom Dardis' book Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down, regarding my least favorite of Keaton's silent features, College (made between two infinitely superior classics, The General and Steamboat Bill Jr): "For the first time in Buster's career, a California athlete, Lee Barnes, was hired to do the pole-vaulting sequence in the picture. Buster simply wasn't up to the task, but the faking depressed him."
posted by BusterWilbury at 9:30 PM on April 29, 2007

And I hate to say it, but movies before 1920 were technically deficient compared to movies 1920 and beyond.

Can you explain the point of this? I understand it as a purely faxual statement, but I don't see its relevance to the discussion. Are you saying we shouldn't count movies made prior to 1920 because they weren't as technically sophisticated as movies after 1920?
posted by grumblebee at 6:26 AM on April 30, 2007

Beauty. Thanks.
posted by eegphalanges at 11:52 PM on May 1, 2007

grumble, here is what I meant. Chaplin's major output in terms of numbers of films was before 1920. This is the pure, less preachy Chaplin. But it is also technically deficient.

The first great movie was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, premiering in early 1920. Before that you would have great innovative works - only great because they were innovative (Birth of a Nation) or great imaginative works that showed their limitations (such as the Lumiere pieces). You would also have those movies that were early previews of auteur genius like the early Chaplin, Keaton, Arbuckle, etc.

In 1921, Chaplin did The Kid, the first of his great features. (He skipped 1920 for any output) However, it also marked a point where he started putting out fairly few films. So his time of great output did not overlap with the time film art was coming into its own. (Of course his limited output did include great films)

In contrast, Keaton's greatest output was during the time that films were technically and artistically maturing.

It's simplistic, I know, but this is from the IMDB rankings.

Chaplin's six highest ranking films are the feature films he put out after 1921. Toss in Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight and you have his output post 1920 (not including cameos or King in New York or Countess of Hong Kong - but those would be like judging Groucho from Skiddoo).

Now contrast this to Keaton's rankings. The top 34 are 1920 and after. (About a half dozen are cameos like Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World). Keaton's career coincided with much better technical proficiency in films. And he took advantage of it. It's hard to imagine Sherlock, Jr. pre-1920 (it's even hard to imagine how they did it in 1924). The tornado in Steamboat Bill, Jr. was cutting edge.

So, that's my thesis. I'm not saying don't count films prior to 1920. I'm just saying they weren't on an equal basis to those afterwards. If Chaplin's major output was also post-1920, then he would be closer to being the equal of Keaton. (In case you drop back in to read this).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:40 PM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

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