Saturday, 13 November 2010

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) - Charles Reisner

They say a week's a long time in politics, now I couldn't give two hoots about all that but for me a week is a long time to go without seeing a film. In fact this is the first film I've had time to see since Monday (and that was just a Carry On film). That is by far the worst thing about having a tough week at work - lack of film time. Anyway it's no secret that I like me a bit of Buster Keaton, add to the mix the fact that I saw this at the cinema today and you should already know this isn't going to be a negative review. The story is simple enough, think Romeo and Juliet in the deep south of America, with paddle steamers and buckets of slapstick. This is just two years after Keaton's high watermark - The General. It's also pretty much the last of the great films he made.

Now as everyone knows, Keaton films tend to stand or fall by their set pieces, as do most all silent era slapstick films. This has some classics, such as the hat scene or the attempted jail break. But everything pales in comparison to the last reel of the film, which has some of the most legendary footage of the little fella. Basically a hurricane hits town and Buster is let loose to do what he does best. Watching this today made me realise just how much Buster is the grandfather of free running. The way he bounces around the boat is just insane. Now even if you haven't seen this (or any of BK's films), you've seen clips from it. I'm sure they still trot out the scene where a house falls forward onto an oblivious Keaton, only for him to step free thanks to an open window on the top floor. Genius, pure genius.

I've always been of the opinion that both comedy and horror films should be seen in a crowd, preferably at the cinema. There's nothing like shared fear or laughter. If I had watched this at home no doubt I would have chuckled at it, at the cinema I found myself laughing along with the other 16 punters. I love silent cinema at the cinema, you know a bloke tinkling away at the piano and all that. Looking around at the others that had decided that the best thing to do on a Saturday afternoon was to go and see a 90 year old film, I all of a sudden felt very elitist and thought that we must be the only 17 people out of my towns 300,000 population, that could possibly appreciate this film. After all we were the only ones there. However that feeling soon passed when it hit me that we are the only people there because everyone else had far better things to do with their lives. Oh well I can deal with that. But only just.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...