Returning to his love of trains gave Keaton the greatest prop of all for his masterpiece, “The General” (1926).
Uncompromising as ever, he refused to use a model for the film’s climax, shooting instead (at the unheard of cost of $42, 000 for the single take) a real train crashing through a burning bridge, the frame including men on horseback moving on the river bank as proof it was no trick of the camera. Keaton mined history books obtaining .”.. the authenticity and the unassumingly correct composition of a Matthew Brady Civil War photograph”, but his streamlined narrative with gags designed to further dramatic action only did not do well at the box office, perhaps because his audience preferred the fancy of his previous work (Knopf, 19).
Deciding to play it safe, he modeled the disappointing “College” (1927) after Lloyd’s successful “The Freshman” (1925) but returned to form with the brilliant “Steamboat Bill Jr.” (1928), choreographing its phantasmagoric cyclone sequence as if it were ballet (Jeffery, 87).
Though he spun, slid, tumbled and eventually gained flight while apparently solid buildings collapsed and vanished magically, the public failed to appreciate his artistry, and the film bombed commercially (Robinson, 90).
Keaton’s undoing came at the hands of his brother-in-law Joseph Schenck who persuaded him to abandon his own studio and join MGM. Chaplin and Lloyd both urged him not to give up his independence, but family pressure (particularly a spendthrift wife) led him to accept $3000 a week for the new arrangement.
... media carriers and are sold worldwide.Bibliography:Jeffery, Vance, Buster Keaton Remembered, McGraw Hill, 2002. Bengtson, John, Silent Echoes: ... Griffith's "Intolerance" (1916). Perfecting and enriching his craft, Keaton developed recurrent themes in the shorts, which he would transfer ... . When Arbuckle left to make features for Paramount, Keaton took over the company with Joseph Schenck handling the ...
The studio insisted on completed, plot-heavy scripts in advance, nixing his proven working method of developing a narrative through improvisation, and it wasn’t long before he was drinking heavily (Dardis, 76).
Keaton battled for every gag on “The Cameraman” (1928), a film comparable to his pre-MGM features, and made two more comedies that were hits for MGM, his final silent (and by general agreement the last authentic Keaton film), Spite Marriage” (1929), and the talkie “Free and Easy” (1930), before mediocrity set in. By 1933 both studio and wife had dropped him as a hopeless alcoholic. Within a couple years, he was able to control his drinking and make two-revelers for Poverty Row’s Educational until its demise in 1937, but after his final directing projects (three single-revelers for MGM in 1938 and 10 two-revelers for Columbia Pictures), the only work he could consistently obtain (besides the occasional bit part) was as a mostly uncredited gagman (Dardis, 53).
Agee’s Life magazine essay (“Comedy’s Greatest Era”) of September 5, 1949 did much to revive interest in the forgotten Keaton. After a memorable cameo as one of Gloria Swanson’s bridge four in “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), he acted for the first time with Chaplin in the latter’s “Limelight” (1952) and was also working frequently in the new medium of television, often demonstrating the fine art of pie-throwing, though that brand of slapstick had not been a specialty during his heyday (Higgins, 12).
The discovery by actor James Mason, owner of Keaton’s former villa, in 1955 of a treasure trove of prints for all his silent features and many of the shorts guaranteed that future generations would know the genius of the ‘Great Stone Face’, and money received for “The Buster Keaton Story” (1957), starring Donald O’Connor, finally ended his perpetual poverty (Dardis, 78).
Two years later, he garnered an honorary Academy Award for “his unique talents which brought immortal comedies to the screen.” Happily married to his third wife Eleanor Norris, he lived modestly and worked steadily, earning nearly as much money in the last decade of his life as during his time at the top (Bengtson, 139).
... and was asked back for Batman returns in 1992. Keaton, likes to take acting in a casual way. Luaine ... such a thing as a hard-hat actor, its Keaton." Micheal is the youngest in his family. There are ... second movie was called Mr. Mom. His next four films didn't go as well as the first two. ... Clean and Sober. For those two films he received the National Society of Film Critics award for best actor. Then, ...
In conclusion I would like to note that Keaton was pragmatic about his career, having known the ups and downs of show business since childhood. Although temporarily crushed by the impersonal studio system and a first wife only in it for the money, he rose from the depths, scratching by as a trouble-shooter who could come in and find unique solutions to plot problems. Keaton never lost his creativity, only his creative control, and the real loser was a public denied the kind of films he would have made had anyone allowed him to continue. Appearing at the Venice Film Festival of 1965 to a tumultuous reception climaxed Keaton’s latter-day fame but also prompted the delighted and touched artist to say afterwards, “Sure it’s great — but it’s all thirty years too late.” Keaton had begun live television appearances and he toured with his silent films around America and Europe and the film he first showed to a new generation of the 1950 s was his own personal favourite, The General (1926).
After several more film appearances in the 1960 s Keaton died in 1966 after completing well over 100 films. Since his death, Keaton’s reputation has soared not only in the USA but also around the world and all of his films but a few have been put on digital media carriers and are sold worldwide.
Jeffery, Vance, Buster Keaton Remembered, McGraw Hill, 2002. Bengtson, John, Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton, Prentice hall, 2002. Dardis, Tom, Buster Keaton: The Man Who WouldnЄ t Lie Down, penguin books, 2001. Keaton, Buster, My Wonderful World of Slapstick, NY Random House, 2000 (reprint).
Robinson, David, Buster Keaton, Prentice Hall, 2000. Higgins, Dick, Buster Keaton Enters into Paradise, penguin books, 2001. Knopf, Robert, The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton, McGraw Publishers, 2000.