Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Hospitality (1923) Review

Our Hospitality poster
Director: Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone
Stars: Buster Keaton, Big Joe Roberts
Genre: Comedy, Slapstick

Here's an earlier Keaton film. Though he had done many shorts prior, this is one of his first feature length films, after Three Ages which was released earlier the same year.

The plot is a slapstick take, or even satire, on the classic story of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. About two rival families during the 19th century who, generation after generation, kill each other for no good reason whatsoever. But, when a member of one family (Keaton) falls in love with the other family's daughter, things get a bit complicated.

It's a great setting for Keaton to work his comedy magic. He's constantly being shot at and almost always nearly getting killed, in typical Keaton fashion.

I mean, what can I say about it? If you like Keaton then you'll like this. If you've never watched a Keaton film, then this isn't a terrible place to start, though I'd recommend Sherlock, Jr. as an introduction to his work.

There's guys falling off trains, off mountains, and just about anything else which one could fall off of. Some of my favorite scenes in the film are the fishing scene, where Buster Keaton gets drenched by a waterfall; the rope scene, in which hilarity ensues when Keaton and a man trying to kill him are tied together by a rope; and of course there is the amazing horse in a dress.

As with most Keaton films I tend to enjoy the second half more. It's where all the action and hilarious gags tends to take place. Our Hospitality is no different. Especially the waterfall rescue near the film's end, which is just simply stunning.

Buster Keaton falling off a waterfall in Our Hospitality

Keaton does a fantastic acting and stunt job (I still don't know how he managed to live as long as he did), and Keaton films always seem to have the best acting of the era. Rather than melodramatic overacting to get a point across without the need of sound, Keaton always has a straight face in his films, never even cracking a smile.

This is also the only Buster Keaton film that contains three generations of Keatons; Buster's son in the prologue, and Buster's father had a role as one of the men on the train. Suiting, being that the film's plot deals with family generations.

Buster Keaton in Our Hospitality 1923

What more can I say? It's funny, it's classic; you should watch it. 

4/5 stars

Purchase Our Hospitality on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD - VHS

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