Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895, to a pair of vaudeville performers. Spending his childhood on the road with his family, he earned the nickname Buster at the age of six months. By the age of three, the youngster was appearing as part of his parents act whenever they could evade child labor laws. In vaudeville, Keaton developed remarkable talents as an acrobatic comedian with a superb sense of timing, and became a rising star by his teens. In early 1917, Buster left his act with his parents, and appeared in a Broadway comic revue later that year, but the key to Keaton’s future came when he met a fellow vaudeville comedian. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was starring in a low-budget two-reel screen comedy, The Butcher Boy, and invited Keaton to play a small role in the picture. The two hit it off and became a successful onscreen team, starring in a long string of comic hits. Fascinated by the medium of film, Keaton soon began writing their pictures, and assisted in directing… read more
Entering films as one of Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops in 1913, Cline began assisting Sennett and by 1916 was directing shorts at Keystone. In the early ‘20s he co-wrote and co-directed seventeen of Buster Keaton’s shorts, including such classics as The Playhouse, The Boat, and Cops, as well as Keaton’s first feature, the Intolerance-parody The Three Ages. Later in the decade he was reunited with Sennett when he directed two-reelers for such comics as Ben Turpin and Carole Lombard. In 1932 Cline directed W.C. Fields in the memorable satire Million Dollar Legs and became one of the few directors whom the irascible comedian could tolerate. Called in to helm most of Fields’ scenes in You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (signed by George Marshall), Cline went on to direct the classic features that capped Fields’ career in the early ‘40s: My Little Chickadee (co-starring Mae West), The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. Cline’s last important work was with Olsen and Johnson on Crazy… read more
This slightly subdued and lacklustre Keaton short is undoubtedly hampered by being incomplete. The clever scenario sees The Great Stone Face going off to the city to strike it rich and writing to tell his girl how well he is doing, only for the film to show us the reality of his struggles. Featuring exteriors shot on the streets of San Francisco, Buster manages to provide enough good material to raise a few laughs...
Often noted as the Keaton film missing the most footage, said to be between 3-10 minutes, which would have made this his only three reeler. As it stands, choppy and uneven, there are some good chase scenes involving hordes of cops (like "Cops"), possibly directed by Fatty Arbuckle in San Francisco, and Joe Keaton (Buster's father) giving his boy the famous Vaudeville boot.
Buster Keaton promises the father of his fiance that he will become a success, or shoot himself before he marries his daughter in this 1922 short, which uses irony to great effect as Keaton juxtaposes his fiance's daydreams of his success based on his letters, with reality. Several minutes of missing footage can't dampen Keaton's genius, and many believe parts were ghost directed by a disgraced Fatty Arbuckle.