July 23, 2008

Buster Keaton

My favorite kind of comedy is physical and Buster Keaton was one of the most inventive. Keaton's silent films are characterized by clever visual gags and technical trickery. The most ingenious gags were often conceived by Keaton himself. The more adventurous ideas called for dangerous stunts, also performed by Keaton at great physical risk; during the railroad-water-tank scene in Sherlock Jr., Keaton broke his neck and did not realize it until years afterward. Comedy director Leo McCarey, recalling the freewheeling days of making slapstick comedies, said, "All of us tried to steal each other's gagmen. But we had no luck with Keaton, because he thought up his best gags himself and we couldn't steal him!"

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