Showing posts with label Buster Keaton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buster Keaton. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


This short promotional film features Charlie and Buster Keaton in their first onscreen appearance together (& only silent film appearance)--thirty years before Limelight. A number of other stars can also be seen including Jackie Coogan, who is seated next to Charlie. This real-life gathering was the inaugural meeting of the Independent Screen Artists’ Guild which took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood in December 1921. Sadly this version of the film has been edited. There should be a short clip from Chaplin's then-upcoming film, The Pilgrim, at the end (an alternate take at that). Would love to see it.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Buster Keaton & Martha Raye reenact the music hall finale from LIMELIGHT on THE MARTHA RAYE SHOW in 1956

Few Americans saw Limelight upon its initial release in 1952. Although it had received positive critical reviews, it was subjected to widespread boycotts because Chaplin was thought to be a Communist. So it's ironic that while a scant number of people saw the film in 1952, a few years later many saw one of its final scenes reenacted on television.

In this version, filmed before a live studio audience, Martha Raye1 plays Chaplin's role of Calvero, wearing a pot-bellied tux and, as an additional nod to the man she considered her idol, a Tramp mustache (Chaplin didn't have the Tramp mustache in Limelight). Keaton is wearing glasses and a tux but not the large mustache he wore in the film. Unlike the film version, this routine belongs to Keaton, who reworked the material from the original and restored some of the gags that had been cut from the final film, including his fall at the beginning and the bit where the piano lands on Martha's foot. We also see a variation on the high shirt collar business. When Martha's face is hidden behind the collar, Keaton pulls her head up by the hair "lengthening" her neck. Chaplin filmed a similar sequence but didn't use it (in the film he simply tears off the collar).

There has been a lot of talk over the years that Chaplin cut Keaton's best bits from the Limelight. Yes, he deleted a couple of good Keaton gags but it was for the purpose of the film. It would have made no sense for the Keaton character to upstage Calvero in this scene. The final music hall routine was supposed to belong to Calvero, it was his moment.

For a more in-depth comparison of the two routines, see Dan Kamin's essay, "The Three Ages Of Limelight" in Chaplin's Limelight & The Music Hall Tradition, edited by Frank Scheide and Hooman Mehran (McFarland, 2006).

1Raye appeared alongside Chaplin in Monsieur Verdoux (1947) as the indestructible "Annabella Bonheur."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chaplin & Buster Keaton outside the Balboa Studios, 1918

From Buster Keaton: Cut To The Chase by Marion Meade

I originally posted the top photo last year as a photo of CC and Buster Keaton but now that a clearer version of the photo has come to light (below), it seems this may not be Chaplin after all.

I think there is definitely a slight resemblance but taking a closer look I don't think it's him. Charlie had a longer nose and different hairline (I should have noticed that in the top photo). The folks over at the Buster's Boosters Facebook page seem to think the man with Buster is Paul Conlon. After seeing a photo of him I think they are right.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Charlie directs the ballet sequence for Limelight

Charlie (in costume as Calvero and wearing glasses) is being watched by cameraman Karl Struss (tall man in center), Buster Keaton (in white shirt), Jerry Epstein (behind Buster), & assistant director Robert Aldrich (behind Chaplin).

Photo by W. Eugene Smith

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Charlie with H. M. Horkheimer, president of the Balboa Studios, c. 1918

The above photo was taken at Balboa on the same day as these more commonly-seen photos with Buster Keaton below. I believe these photos were taken on the set of an Arbuckle/Keaton film (although Arbuckle is not in the photos).

Chaplin Studio manager Alf Reeves is between Charlie and Buster.
 Horkheimer is in front next to Charlie. Lou Anger, Roscoe Arbuckle's manager, is at far right. 

Charlie, Lou Anger, H.M. Horkheimer, & Keaton

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Keaton & Chaplin Celebration planned for 2013

The following was posted on Chaplin scholar Lisa Stein Haven's Facebook page today.  Lisa just attended the annual Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, KS this weekend: 

"Next year's Buster Keaton Celebration, held the last weekend in September in Iola, Kansas, just five miles from Buster's birthplace, will have the theme: "Keaton and Chaplin," with Kate Guyonvarch as one of our guests of honor. This two-day event is FREE and Iola is a very modest and inexpensive venue...Frank Scheide, Hooman Mehran, Keith Goering and I are all on the organizing committee. "

Sounds exciting. I'm hoping to be able to attend and it would be great to meet some fellow fans and friends there as well. 
For updates on the event, please check out the following websites:

Monday, August 27, 2012

With Buster Keaton on the set of LIMELIGHT

Excerpt from Remembering Charlie by Jerry Epstein (background, center):
Charlie still hadn't found his partner [for the violin and piano sequence]. At one point he thought Sydney's stand-in, who had a long lugubrious face, could play the pianist. But he was undecided. Then just before shooting, someone told him Buster Keaton was available -- that he was also broke, and needed money. That did it. Charlie hired Keaton.
Buster arrived on the set wearing his old Buster outfit with the small pancake hat. Charlie took him aside and said gently, "We're not playing our old characters now. I'm not playing the Tramp; you're not playing Buster." Keaton, like an obedient pupil, replied, "Yes, Charlie, of course." and removed his hat and went to wardrobe for a costume.
Before our picture began, all the technicians had been excited about working with Charlie Chaplin. He hadn't made a film in years and of course he was a legend...But after a few weeks of shooting, Charlie Chaplin became just another actor. Now their affection switched to Keaton. He was the new boy in town. But if Ben Turpin had shown up two weeks later, I'm sure Keaton would have been dropped like a hot potato. Charlie must have been aware of the technicians' attitude, but chose to ignore it. He just wanted to get on with the business ahead. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hollywood dinner party, c. 1925

A dinner party held by Joseph Schenck to welcome Rudolph Valentino into United Artists.
Clockwise from left: William S. Hart, Norma Talmadge, Hiram Abrams, Douglas Fairbanks, Peg Talmadge, Allan Forrest, James Hood MacFarland, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Chaplin, Charlotte Pickford, Joseph Schenck, Natacha Rambova, Sydney Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Constance Talmadge, John Considine, Lottie Pickford, and Arthur Kelly.

 A close-up of Charlie, Buster, and Mary.