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Archive for January 22nd, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 1923 70m) DVD1/2

Love thy neighbour as thyself

Joseph M.Schenck  d  Buster Keaton, Jack G.Blystone  w  Jean Haver, Joseph Mitchell, Clyde Bruckman  ph  Elgin Lessley, Gordon Jennings

Buster Keaton (Willie McKay, aged 21), Natalie Talmadge (Virginia Calmadge), Joe Keaton (Lem Doolittle), Buster Keaton Jnr (Willie McKay, aged 1), Kitty Bradbury (aunt Mary), Joe Roberts (Joseph Canfield), Monte Collins (parson), James Duffy (Sam Gardner), Ralph Bushman (Clayton Canfield),

Our Hospitality is Buster Keaton’s homage of homages to life in the old South.  It is also, assumedly quite by chance, the nearest he came to the death-defying world of Harold Lloyd.  Yet Keaton in some ways tops Lloyd, his stunts not only being daring, but reliant on absolutely exquisite timing.  In truth, The General and Sherlock Junior are more recognised as Keaton masterpieces.  Even Leslie Halliwell said that Hospitality is more charming than hilarious, but it’s no worse for that.  It’s still a damned fine film.

            The story is a variation on the legendary McKoy and Hatfield feud of nineteenth century repute, beginning in 1810 with John McKay celebrating the first anniversary of the birth of his only son.  Also on his mind is the continuing feud with the local neighbours, the landowning Canfields.  When he is killed, his infant son is sent to live with his aunt far away but, come his 21st birthday, he is summoned back by executors of his father’s estate to reclaim what is his.  He dreams of large cotton plantations out of Gone With the Wind and sets off by train to the town of Rockville.  Once there he again runs foul of the Canfields, but unwittingly falls for their daughter, with whom he had travelled on the journey.  Once he gets to his estate, he sees that the reality is somewhat less salubrious than he had imagined (think of Bill Fields’ orange grove shack in It’s a Gift and you’ll get the idea). (more…)

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