One of my goals for Film Misery when we initially launched nearly nearly 10 years ago was that we would be a home for all movie lovers – whether you’ve seen everything or are just starting your journey into cinema. I introduced Movie Marathons as an outlet for deep dives into the works of one specific filmmaker or actor, usually someone with whom I was not intimately familiar. These were some of my favorite columns and inspired some of the best conversations and connections with initial Film Misery readers.
Our first marathon back in 2009 highlighted the legendary Charlie Chaplin and over several months we posted reviews, lists, quizzes, and a personal ranking of his best films. Since then we’ve had marathons of Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Altman, Mel Brooks, Ingrid Bergman, Wong Kar-Wai, Wes Anderson, Classic Documentaries, and many others. With our recent relaunch, it seems appropriate to begin a marathon of the films of one of Charlie Chaplin’s contemporaries: Buster Keaton.
Considering each was influential in their own ways, it often feels like Keaton receives less recognition for his contributions to cinema today than Chaplin. The AFI Top 100 Films lists three Chaplin titles, but only Keaton’s The General. In the latest top 1,000 Greatest Films ranking posted on They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They, Keaton only has two films in the top 500 compared to Chaplin’s seven. In film textbooks, Chaplin often seems to be regarded as an essential filmmaker in cinema history while Keaton has a couple of great films.
However, Keaton’s skill behind and in front of the camera are certainly worth further study. His comedy was less exuberant than Chaplin’s clown-inspired farce, but his ability to compose hilariously timed shots is second to none. Keaton was a master of the silent film form, serving as writer, director, choreographer, and straight-faced star. His stunts are incredible, hilarious, and often quite dangerous and influential to many directors who followed in his footsteps.
Over the next several months, we are going to be taking a closer look at the works of Buster Keaton and study why he is an essential voice in cinema. Some of the highlights will include:
- One Week (1920)
- Our Hospitality (1923)
- Sherlock Jr (1924)
- The Navigator (1924)
- Seven Chances (1925)
- The General (1926)
- Steamboat Bill Jr (1928)
- The Cameraman (1928)
- The Railrodder (1965)
- How well do you know the films of Buster Keaton? (Quiz)
- Top 10 Buster Keaton Stunts
- Where to Stream the Films of Buster Keaton
- Ranking the Buster Keaton Directed Films
We hope you will follow along and share your thoughts as we explore the films of the great Buster Keaton!