(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Buster Keaton

Just a second…

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More of Hudson Hongo’s “One Second Classics” here.

[TotH to Laughing Squid]

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As we put aside our envy of Evelyn Wood, we might send boisterous birthday greetings to comic genius Harold Lloyd; he was born on this date in 1893.  While your correspondent marginally prefers the extraordinary Buster Keaton, Lloyd has some real claim to being the finest physical comedian of the silent film era (even as his career extended to talkies and radio).  Like Keaton, Lloyd did his own stunts– many of them, breathtakingly dangerous.  Indeed, after 1919, he appears wearing a prosthetic glove, masking the loss of a thumb and index finger in a bomb explosion at Roach Studios.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 20, 2012 at 1:01 am

Get (Sur)real…

 

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From Alex Pasternack on Motherboard:

Before he was Kermit, Jim Henson was Brunel.

With apologies to Man Ray and Busby Berkley and many others, I submit that argument and this hypothesis: the amount of time you spent as a child watching Sesame Street and the Muppets is directly proportional to your taste for the comic, the avant-garde, the absurd and the surreal. Jim Henson, the lead instructor of this viewers-like-you-fueled education, would have turned seventy-five this week had he not died in 1990, sucking away a collective head trip that was, ultimately, firmly planted in a felt flowerbed of weirdness.

Pasternack offers plentiful– and delightful– evidence, including this remarkable 1974 appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show:

… and this “collaboration” with Orson Welles:

Many more mesmerizing examples at “Jim Henson Was America’s Greatest Surrealist.”

Special Minimalist Bonus!:

 

As we proclaim Henson the (Du)champ, we might wish a stony-faced Happy Birthday to “the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies” (quoth Roger Ebert); Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton was born on this date in 1895.

As a young vaudevillian, Keaton met silent star Fatty Arbuckle.  Keaton borrowed Arbuckle’s crew’s camera, took it back to his boarding house, disassembled and reassembled it, then returned to ask for a job.  He was hired as co-star and gag man on “The Butcher Boy”– and soon became Arbuckle’s “second director” and his entire gag department.  Keaton soon earned his own unit, and began churning out two-reelers.  Leo McCarthy (director of Charlie Chase, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Mae West, and others) recalled, “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!”

From 1920 through 1929, Keaton made Our Hospitality, The Navigator, Sherlock Jr., Seven Chances, Steamboat Bill Jr., The Cameraman, and The General— gems all.  Indeed, Henson collaborator Orson Welles considered The General to be, “the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made.”

With the advent of sound, Keaton’s career took a sideways turn.  While he appeared in a number of feature films, guested on many television series, and even served as an advisor to Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, he was never again the monster star that he had been on the silent screen… which adds to the power– and the poignancy– of his penultimate role: the lead in the only movie written by Samuel Beckett, the (nearly) silent Film.

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Your correspondent is bound for the City of Dreaming Spires.  The time-zone differential being what it is, regular service will be interrupted until October 10 or so.  While there may be an occasional missive in the meantime, readers can trustworthily amuse themselves with the films of Buster Keaton, streaming (for free) on the wonderful Archive.org.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

All Singing! All Dancing!– All Free!…

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From Chaplin and Keaton to Astaire and Olivier; from Kurosawa and Godard to von Sternberg and Tarkovsky; from Scorsese and Hitchcock to Ford and Huston– 300 Free Movies Online.

(Readers should be sure to look through the list to the very bottom, where they will find a list of links to more streaming riches…)

As we politely refuse butter, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married; they celebrated their 50th anniversary just months before Newman succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 83.

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…Now you don’t…

Liu Bolin is a young Shandong-based artist who exhibited primarily in China until last year’s solo shows at Paris’ Galerie Bertin Toublanc and the Eli Klein Gallery in New York.  His series “Camouflage” is “an exploration of human nature and animal instincts” which features Chinese citizens painted to blend into their surroundings. The subjects are covered head to toe in paint, camouflaging themselves in front of the Chinese flag, a billboard or other features of downtown Beijing…

source: Designboom

It is perhaps not altogether surprising to learn that Liu Bolin has had some trouble with Chinese authorities…  For more of the series, visit the gallery links above, or Designboom.

As we try to blend in, we might tip our flattened fedoras to Joseph Francis “Buster” Keaton IV, born on this date in 1895…  Keaton was surely right when he observed that “tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”  But he was equally surely wrong when he protested that “no man can be a genius in slapshoes and a flat hat.”

Buster Keaton

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

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