04 October 2014

Buster Keaton: More than a Mime

Maybe his birthday is a good time to remind ourselves that, brilliant as his silent works are, Buster Keaton became a huge stage star doing everything -- slapstick, dancing, singing -- he even played the heroine's doomed little son in a production of the Victorian tear-jerker East Lynne.

Silent film just happened to be there when Buster the independent 21-year-old genius was ready to explode. If he'd been offered a particularly good part in the Ziegfeld Follies instead of running into Fatty Arbuckle that day, who knows, we might remember him as a great musical comedy star.

We can see him sing and dance, however. These are some of my favorite performances, starting with this little song with Cliff Edwards in Doughboys (one of the better sound films):

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu3p6PBix64

...and this routine from the also not-so-bad Free and Easy:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYcpuDdYC4M

Last, but not least, Princess Rajah:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg_oQ7vRVa4

Thank goodness we have so much to remember him by!