Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to confess that we just couldn’t help ourselves.
For the past few weeks we’ve been digging up shots of famous stars and their pets. We’ve shown cats and dogs, and one of our dear followers asked, “what’s next? Monkeys?” So here it is.
And while we were perusing pics of the immortal — yes, the guy really is — Buster Keaton, we also unearthed another one (see below).
Just a few dozen words about Joseph Francis Keaton, the pride of Pickway, Kansas. A dour, extraordinarily athletic presence onscreen, “Buster” was eclipsed in the silent movie era by the antics of Charlie Chaplin. But it was Keaton who pulled off the visual stunts that are more frequently evoked today.
He had what British critic David Thomson called the serene capacity for absorbing frustration and a turning a blind eye to fear and failure.
If Chaplin’s films are always working towards self-centered pathos, Keaton never disguises the element of absurdity in a lone romantic’s dealings with the world. (Interestingly, the two greatly respected each other; Keaton was cast in supporting role in Chaplin’s 1952 film, Limelight.)
Keaton came from a line of vaudevillians, and made his debut as a member of the family act at age 3 (in 1898), staying for 20 years. By 1913 , he was making shorts and heading for his memorably productive silent movie period. He started making features in 1923.
Throughout much of his career, Keaton found himself was at loggerheads with various studio bigwigs first at MGM then United Artists and then other studios. He battled a debilitating drinking problem for much of his life and his personal life was largely a mess.
He worked right through to the year he died. His last movie’s was 1966’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum, a musical comedy starring Zero Mostel (whose screen presence was the polar opposite of Buster’s) and directed by Richard Lester. Keaton played the part of “Erronius.”
Keaton’s career received a jolt in the Sixties when his silent movie work was rediscovered and re-celebrated by cineastes. The late Henri Langois, the influential film archivist who founded the Cinematheque Francaise, idolized Keaton. Except for their inexplicable preference of Jerry Lewis, French cinesastes frequently cherish classic American screen personalities we often take for granted.
Hard to take the picture below for granted. Too cute for words.