One Week was the first Buster Keaton-directed film to be released to the public (The High Sign was made earlier but shelved for several months). Based on a now-obscure educational short called Home Made, it involves a build-it-yourself house given to Keaton and his new bride (Sybil Seely). Unbeknownst to the couple, the wife’s disgruntled former suitor has changed the numbers on the boxes containing the building materials. Keaton does make the house in one week, as the instructions have promised, but what a house! Right off the bat, this early Keaton film shows his penchant for big props (the cockeyed house, a passing train). Even though it’s only a two-reeler, it still managed to become one of the top-grossing movies of 1920.
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
The Great Stone Face has received a do-it-yourself house kit as a wedding present from his uncle. Unbeknownst to our hero though, the jilted beau of his wife has switched the numbers on the various packages. The resulting construction looks decidedly odd and rickety so the last thing needed is a gale force wind... Glorious and inspired comedy genius!