For those of you in St. Louis, Webster University is running a Buster Keaton Retrospective starting September 28th and running through October 14th. If Charlie Chaplin is the king of silent comedy with a streak of pathos, then Keaton is the kind of silent deadpanning. Both are incredible filmmakers, but laugh for laugh, I might actually have to give Keaton the edge. The General still stands as one of the greatest comedies ever made, silent or not. If you get the chance, you should try to get down to Webster and see some of these classics.
Here’s the schedule. All the features start at 8:00pm, and are accompanied by a shorter Keaton film; as a further treat, each is screened with live musical accompaniment, just like they would have been when they were first released.
- Three Ages – September 28th
- Our Hospitality – September 29th – I’ve seen this one and enjoyed it a lot, but it’s been a while; Northerner Keaton inherits a Southern manor home, only to be embroiled in a long-standing feud
- The Saphead – September 30th (screens with Sherlock Jr., which would actually be the draw for me – Keaton is a projectionist drawn into the movies he shows)
- Battling Butler – October 4th
- The Navigator – October 5th
- Go West – October 6th
- Seven Chances – October 7th
- College – October 11th – the view of college in silent films is always fascinating to me, whoever’s doing it; I don’t think I’ve seen Keaton’s version, but if you ever get the chance to see Harold Lloyd‘s The Freshman, it’s a lot of fun (Lloyd is the now-much-lesser-known third great comic of the silent era)
- Steamboat Bill, Jr. – October 12th – Lots of great sight gags in this one, largely based around escalating natural disasters that Keaton narrowly manages to escape.
- The Cameraman – October 13th – This one is a lot of fun, too, but then I’m always a fan of films set in the movie industry.
- The General – October 14th – This is it, folks. If you ever only see one silent film in your life, ever, make it this one. Yes, even over Chaplin. Of course, you should also see Chaplin’s Modern Times, but it’s not showing at Webster right now, is it? So yeah. See The General. I only wish I were in St. Louis to see it myself.