PLAYHOUSE (1921) AND STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928)

These two Buster Keaton films, separated by seven years, represent the artist at his most hyperkinetic. Playhouse (1921), co-directed by Keaton and Eddie Cline, is a twenty-two minute short and one of Keaton’s most surreal efforts. The movie iris-ins on Keaton’s Opera House. It’s actually a vaudeville show, in which Keaton is the conductor, every member of the orchestra (dubbed Buster Keaton’s minstrels), a stagehand, and the entire audience. The crowd consists of the actor in three drag guises, a spoiled tyke, a befuddled husband, a lethargic old man, and (alas) Keaton in (mercifully brief) blackface. This is the sole area … Continue reading PLAYHOUSE (1921) AND STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928)