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Marion Davies in Little Old New York (1923)

One of the few plus sides to be afflicted with this season’s super virus is that is allows for a lot of lounging and YouTube time. What is there to do when you can’t eat, sleep, breathe or come into contact with other humans? Watch silent movies of course! This one is a delightful trifle starring the delightful Marion Davies. Check out the YouTube playlist and enjoy!

Here’s part 1 (of 9) to get you hooked.

Buster Keaton and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle in The Bell BoyFrom Laurel and Hardy to Abbott and Costello to Cheech and Chong (yeah, I said it) – duos make the comedy world go ’round. And why not? You’ve got the yin and the yang, the clown and the straight man, the graceful and the inept – and you’ve got the very large and the very small. Physical dichotomies are just really, really funny and never more so than in the era of silent slapstick,when the visual was paramount. Take away a comedy duos ability to verbally spar, insert a prima facie visual pun, and you’ve got yourself a great comedy team. And was ever there a pair as physically disparate as Buster Keaton and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle? Read the rest of this entry

Happy Birthday Buster Keaton!

Buster Keaton Birthday

Buster Keaton would have been 116 years old today if, you know, he had had better health insurance. Keaton famously said, “No man can be a genius in slapshoes and a flat hat.” We all know that’s a big fat lie, but we won’t call a man a liar on his birthday. Instead, let’s celebrate! Buster Keaton was a genius – both an extraordinary comic and an extraordinary film-maker. Often when I watch a Keaton film, I laugh out loud, but sometimes I just feel grateful for the opportunity.

Here’s Buster celebrating his 69th birthday, taken from the Canadian documentary Buster Rides Again. You can see the entire movie on the National Film Board website or with the fantastic NFB app.

Vivia la Buster! You can bet the interwebs are going nuts over Buster Keaton. Check out my ongoing round-up of Keaton bits that I find and feel free to contribute your own. And don’t forget to visit the Kitty Packard Pictorial’s Project Keaton.

Keaton or Chaplin? Chaplin or Keaton?

Chaplin and Keaton

Keaton or Chaplin? Chaplin or Keaton? It’s an age old debate. Like yin and yang, black and white, east coast rap and west coast rap, Chaplin and Keaton dwell on opposing ends of the silent comedy genius spectrum. Is it possible to decide which is better? Is it even necessary?

Turns out it’s not necessary… According to Gary Crucianelli, Chaplin and Keaton are less east coast- west coast and more like chocolate and peanut butter. The answer is simple – Keaton and Chaplin.  Read his excellent “Buster Keaton the Inventor and Charlie Chaplin the Conjurer” at popmatters and rest easy knowing you can love them both equally.

Watch Chalie Chaplin’s “The Rink” Online

Need an afternoon pick me up? Why not spare twenty minutes and what Charlie Chaplin’s delightful short  “The Rink” (1916).

Chaplin’s earliest short films have a certain insouciance, a carefree playfulness, that gets lost in his later feature work when he’s loaded down by the demands of complex narrative. Given that Chaplin’s genius is a physical one, a dazzling kinetic grace, what could have more potential for greatness than Chaplin on roller skates?

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