Our Hospitality – 1923 Buster Keaton and John Blystone
A brilliant premise- a play on the Hatfield and McCoy feud—here we have the Canfield and McKay family. The comedy unfolds (after a really good dramatic thunderstorm-aided opening of the two elder namesakes in a deadly gunfight) naturally- progressively unfolds. About feuds and bizarre code of honor ethics.
A breakthrough for Keaton- his sophomore effort after Three Ages
The train again—leading to The General– part of the humor here is the 1923 comment on the good ol’ days of travel (1830’s I think), rickety steam train and the city of New York that looks like an Kansas prairie- haha.
A great shot of Keaton listening to his beloved on the piano as she looks the other way with her two brothers and her father palming pistols
Keaton as a performer is a stuntman- different than Chaplin of course. The last 15 minutes here are incredible – he’s climbing mountains, he’s Jackie Chan, he’s on a train, a raft- a bit of a decathlon or Iron Man and all of that leading up to the epic waterfall set piece finale. He’s dangling off and catches her after whisking down the river. Keaton, brilliantly, keeps the entire sequence in the frame here at medium-long and long shots—he’s a spec in the frame—you can’t see his face and most actors would never allow this and it would ruin the scene to cut to a close-up of his face.