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

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Camera Man: Buster Keaton by Dana Stevens

Camera Man
Buster Keaton, The Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the 20th Century 
By Dana Stevens
Atria Books
Hardcover ISBN: 9781501134197
432 pages
January 2022

“I think I have had the happiest and luckiest of lives. It would be ridiculous of me to complain… I count the years of defeat and grief and disappointment, and their percentage is so minute that it continually surprises and delights me.” — Buster Keaton

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more beloved figure from film history than Buster Keaton. He's wowed generations of moviegoers, some born several decades after his death in 1966, with his physical comedy and incredible stunt work. And he did it all with a straight face. Who can forget the house frame falling over Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928), the death-defying stunts in The General (1926), Keaton running over train cars and onto a water tower in Sherlock Jr. (1924) or the epic chase scenes in Seven Chances (1925)? He did it all himself, no stuntman needed and made it look effortless. Keaton was also a pioneer in filmmaking. He thrived in the era before studios took over Hollywood. With his years of vaudeville training, he knew what audiences liked and developed that on a bigger scale for moviegoers. With the birth of cinema, he learned as he went, preferring to work independently and often writing, "choreographing" and directing his own feature films and shorts. Today Keaton's work is appreciated by many, even those who are new to classic movies. You'll hear those who are normally adamantly against watching black-and-white movies from the past being open and willing to watching Keaton perform his magic on screen.

Film critic Dana Stevens offers a look at Keaton's life and career in her book Camera Man: Buster Keaton, The Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the 20th Century. This is a life-and-times style book rather than a traditional biography. And what I mean by that is the book offers the reader equal parts biography and cultural history which places its subject, in this case Buster Keaton, in context with the eras they lived through. You won't get a play-by-play on everything that happened in Keaton's life and career. Instead, Stevens offers a look at Keaton through a cultural history lens and readers with reap the rewards from all the historical context.

The chapters are thematic essays that follow the course of Keaton's life chronologically but each focus on a particular subject with a couple of context points. Some of these include women filmmakers, child cruelty regulations, the birth of radio, film and television, movie magazines, collegiate culture, racism, indie filmmaking vs. Hollywood studios, etc. There is also in-depth biographical information on key figures from Keaton's life and career including Keaton's three wives, Roscoe Arbuckle, Robert Sherwood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg, Charlie Chaplin and more. These context points make for some illuminating reading and really help readers understand Keaton's world.

Stevens is a fantastic writer and I kept stopping to write down a quote I liked. Here are a few:

“For Keaton, every potential home is a space of danger and transformation; no facade stays standing for long… The ephemerality of the built world reveals the foundational homelessness of Buster’s character, whose defining trait is his ability to move through chaos while remaining miraculously unperturbed.”

“The Hollywood economy was large enough that Wall Street, another institution that rose to new heights of power and cultural influence in the 1920s, had started to play a key role in the financial and creative decisions of the top movie moguls…the big banks of the East Coast, where the money side of the business was still based, got skittish about lending large sums to small studios with spotty box-office records. To get back their investment, they needed a reliable flow of commercial hits.”

“Buster Keaton was ahead of his time in many ways but when it came to the ambient cultural racism of the Jim Crow era, he was unfortunately very much a product of it.” 
"Some accounts of Keaton’s late life—the ones that want to frame him as a tragic figure permanently destroyed by Hollywood—present his time performing with the circus as some sort of comedown… in fact, he held the prize second-act slot at one of Europe’s most prestigious and innovative circuses…”

If you're a fan of Buster Keaton and love cultural history, then Camera Man is a must read. 

Note: For those who will want a more traditional biography, author James Curtis' book Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life also came out this year.

This is my first review for the 2022 Classic Film Reading Challenge. 

Thank you to Atria Books for sending me Camera Man for review!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Interview with Greg Merritt, Author of Room 1219

I've had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Merritt, the author of one of the best books I've read this year: Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal That Changed Hollywood. If you are interested in the topic and haven't read this book already, I implore you to seek out a copy! (Here are some places where you can buy the book: Barnes and NobleIndieBound, Powell's) It's a fascinating, well-written and well-organized book about one of the most important scandals in Hollywood history. You can read my review of the book here. Now on to the interview!

Raquel: What made you decide to write a book about the Arbuckle-Rappe scandal?

Greg Merritt. Photo by Kevin Horton
Greg Merritt: I thought of it as the ultimate Hollywood scandal, but I assumed it had already been covered thoroughly. I started to look into another tragedy that plays a small role in Room 1219, the murder of pioneering director Frances Boggs. That led me to Arbuckle’s story, and I learned how inadequate the previous books were and how frustrated silent film fans were with them. I began doing my own research. Soon I was hooked. The more things I found, the more I knew I had to tell this story.

Raquel: Your book is incredibly well-organized and you go into lots of great detail. How did you decide to organize the book the way you did and how did you keep track of all the information you accumulated?

Greg Merritt: Thanks. At its heart, this is a mystery story. And in order to reach a conclusion about what occurred in room 1219, the reader needs to know not just the facts of the case but also what sort of people Arbuckle and Rappe were. So, much of the book alternates between his and her biographies and the story of the developing case. This allows the reader to gain a greater appreciation for how much Arbuckle and Rappe lost – her life and his reputation and career. The “standard” structure would insert the crime story into Arbuckle’s biography. If so, you wouldn’t get to the case until around the book’s halfway point and then you’d be inundated with it for the next ten chapters. I think my approach makes for a more illuminating and interesting book. Once I had the structure plotted. I’d research a chapter, write its first draft, and then move on to researching and writing the next chapter. So my journey was very similar to the reader’s. Still, I was always finding things that fit in either earlier or later and thus constantly revising earlier chapters and saving things for later chapters. This created a bit more work, but I was engaged with the text throughout the process, as opposed to spending three years researching before even beginning the first chapter.

Raquel:  What was the most surprising thing you discovered when you did the research for this book?

Greg Merritt:  The wealth of information on Virgina Rappe, which I’ll expand upon below.

Raquel: Arbuckle was indirectly linked to a scandal prior to Rappe’s death. Can you tell us a little bit about the Mishawum Manor scandal that you talked about briefly in your book?

Greg Merritt:  There were a lot of stories about Hollywood “orgies” around this time, and most of them were shocking headlines and little else. This one was deserving of its title. In 1917, at the end of a tour celebrating Arbuckle’s signing with Paramount, there was a sort of after-party in a bordello near Boston. Arbuckle wasn’t there. But some Paramount executives were, including Jesse Lasky and Adolph Zukor, and so were some underage prostitutes. Relatives of the prostitutes came forward shortly thereafter, threatening to bring a civil suit against the film executives. The potential complainants were bought off for a whopping $100,000 in Paramount hush money. Okay, that’s that, right? No. Four years later the story erupted in the national press, uncovered as part of a political scandal. It became known as the “chicken and champagne orgy,” and there were screaming headlines that associated Arbuckle with it even though he was in a Boston hotel room with his wife when it occurred. The story hit the news on July 11, 1921, less than two months before the Labor Day party. So, it primed the tarnished Paramount executives to quickly sever ties with Arbuckle after his arrest. It also fed the press fascination with Hollywood “orgies” and the public outrage with “immoral Hollywood.” All in all, it was bad news (and very bad luck) for Arbuckle.

Raquel: In your book, you devote a chapter to the life of Virginia Rappe. Was it difficult to find information about her and what was the most interesting thing about her you discovered?

Greg Merritt:  Surprisingly, no. Previous writers have offered barely anything about her life other than the worst rumors about her, and yet there was a wealth of information in newspaper databases waiting to be discovered. She was adept at promoting her modeling, fashion design, and acting careers. She was profiled in the Chicago Tribune in 1908 when she was a seventeen-year-old model, and she continued to give interviews or pen her own articles (for example, offering advice to young women) throughout the remainder of her life. One of the most interesting things about her is how innovative her fashions were. For examples, she had a tuxedo coat to win “equal clothes rights with men” and a dovish peace hat to promote pacifism during World War I. In some ways, just as Arbuckle was the archetype male movie star with his partying entourage and ostentatious spending, Rappe was the prototypical Jazz Age woman: an unmarried, outspoken entrepreneur. Both images would later be twisted to sinister meanings.

Raquel: Arbuckle was married three times and was estranged from his first wife Minta Durfee during the scandal. What can we learn about Arbuckle from his marriages?

Greg Merritt:  First, he was attracted to younger brunette actresses. That was true of all three of his wives and the girlfriends we know about. It was also true of Virginia Rappe. Each of his marriages was unique. Arbuckle’s mother died when he was twelve, and Durfee was a matronly influence in his life. When he married for a second time, in 1925, he was struggling with his career and self-image. As a result, that was his most volatile marriage. In 1932, one month after his third marriage began, his film acting career was resuscitated. He was at peace with himself and content being a husband and step-father. Unfortunately, that period was short-lived before his death in 1933.

Raquel: Arbuckle had a close friendship and working relationship with Buster Keaton. Was this a really important relationship in his life and if so, why?

Greg Merritt:  Very much so. They were kindred spirts. Their film characters contrasted, but the actors shared similar senses of humor (much more than simple slapstick). Arbuckle’s best movies were made with Keaton as his co-star on-screen and chief collaborator off-screen. They also both fondly remembered the years of 1917-20 when they hit up the hottest spots in New York City and Southern California as their best. For both, it was an extended adolescence.

Raquel: How did the Arbuckle-Rappe scandal affect Hollywood?

Greg Merritt:  There were four principal ways. First, the studios began instituting morality clauses in the contracts of their talent. Second, whereas before the public could be satisfied with studio-approved puff pieces in fan magazines, suddenly people wanted to know what movie stars were really like. Third, it ended Arbuckle’s silent film acting career in September 1921. The genre of feature-length comedies was just beginning to take shape then. So, we never got to see what great comedies Arbuckle could have made if he was acting the following years, like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Finally, as I cover in detail, it led to a wave of censorship which the movie industry countered with self-censorship, leading eventually to the Production Code.

Raquel: I really loved the Labor Day Revisited chapter in your book in which you layout different scenarios of what could have happened. Could you tell us more about how you put all of those scenarios together and how you came to your own conclusion about what happened that day?

Greg Merritt:  I had no preconceptions about this case, and I came to that chapter only after writing the twenty-two that preceded it. Then I started eliminating some of the possible explanations for what happened. Many things, which either the defense or prosecution had focused on extensively, were easy to dismiss. They just weren’t relevant to the central question: How did Rappe’s bladder rupture while she was in room 1219, either for the brief period she was alone or the longer time afterwards when she was there with only Arbuckle? I was left with just a few possibilities of what could have happened to cause her injury, and from there I focused on what most likely occurred. Some long-overlooked coroner’s inquest testimony was particularly illuminating.

Raquel:  What was your favorite part of the process of researching/writing Room 1219?

Greg Merritt:  It was fun to research and writer Chapter 21, “Legends,” which explores all of the salacious things that have been attached to this case over the decades. It was illuminating to see why the myths grew about Arbuckle and Rappe and what supposedly occurred in room 1219.
Thank you Greg Merritt for taking the time to answer my questions and thank to you Meaghan Miller from IPG for arranging the interview!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Interview with Matt Phelan, Author/Illustrator of Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton

Matt Phelan and I at his Bluffton signing - Book Expo America 2013

I had the pleasure of interviewing author/illustrator Matt Phelan about his book Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton. Check out my original review here. You can find Matt Phelan on Twitter as @MattPhelanDraws, on Facebook, on Google+ and on his wonderful blog Planet Ham.

Now on to the questions!

Raquel: Could you tell us a little bit about your interest in Buster Keaton?

Matt: When I was a little kid, my brother and I would watch silent movies on my dad's super 8 projector. We had Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, but my favorites were our two Keaton films: Cops and The General (which required a few reel changes). I still think of those movies with the sound of the projector motor running.

My interest in Keaton really caught fire after Kevin Brownlow's amazing documentary A Hard Act to Follow came out (If anyone can tell me why this hasn't been released on DVD in the states, please do. I'm afraid my VHS copy might disintegrate from use). I became obsessed with Buster and tracked down all the books about him I could find as well as whatever terrible quality prints of his films I could dig up. This was pre-Internet and before Kino released all of his films on VHS, so there was a lot of poking around in used bookstores and libraries.

I was in film school at that time and I quickly realized that not only was Keaton brilliantly funny, he was the best filmmaker of the silent era period.

Raquel: That’s so wonderful that you enjoyed watching Buster Keaton films as a child! Was it your childhood fascination with him that inspired you to write and illustrate Bluffton or was there another motivation?

Matt: My fascination with Buster has always been a constant in my life. However, it wasn't until I read his autobiography My Wonderful World of Slapstick that I started thinking about writing a story about the summers in Bluffton. That was about twenty years ago. I didn't actually figure out that the main character should be a kid from Muskegon until about 7 years ago. Some stories take time (although I hope future stories won't take quite so long).

Raquel: I think it’s really interesting that you decided to tell the story through the eyes of your main character Henry Harrison and not Buster Keaton. How did you come to that decision and how did that effect the final book?

Matt: By making Henry the narrator, the reader has a way into this story. Who are the vaudevillians? What is their world like? Henry knows next to nothing about vaudeville at the beginning of the story and that is a very useful viewpoint. It helped me figure out how to tell the story. I could ask myself, "What would I do if I met Buster Keaton when I was a kid?" And I think by not having Buster be the narrator or main character, I could get a truer portrayal of him in a strange way.

Raquel: How did you want to portray Buster Keaton and how did you approach illustrating him?

Matt: I tried to be as true to him as possible. For instance, although some have argued that his childhood was near abusive (the rough act, the lack of schooling) Buster never saw it that way. So I'm sticking with his viewpoint on that matter. I've watched and read a lot of interviews with him so I was very careful in trying to replicate his speaking manner. That won't register with most readers but it was important to me. To draw him, I watched his movies with a sketchbook in hand. I found his shorts with Roscoe Arbuckle to be very helpful because he's the youngest in those. I also have photos of him as a kid. The real method is to take all of that in and then draw with that knowledge deep inside. Do the work, and then forget about it on a conscious level. My approach to illustration is not unlike an actor's approach to a role.

Raquel: Could you tell us more about those photos you have of Buster Keaton as a kid? Especially that one you found of him smiling!

Matt: The best photos of Buster (at all ages) are in a book called Buster Keaton Remembered by his wife Eleanor Keaton. There are great shots of The Three Keatons and also pictures of young Buster in Bluffton. The photograph that ends the book was something I came across completely by chance while I was on a research trip in Muskegon. I walked into a house that was having an estate sale and asked if they had anything about the Actors' Colony and Buster in particular. The woman was the granddaughter of a man who had run the neighborhood general store and he was friends with the Keatons. She rummaged around in a room and came back with this amazing photo of a smiling Buster with his father, Joe Roberts, Ed Gray and other regulars in front of their clubhouse Cobwebs & Rafters. She sold me the photo for ten dollars.

(Learn more about the photo and Phelan's research by reading his guest post at the Nerdy Book Club)

Raquel: I love that story! What kinds of research did you do on that trip to Muskegon?

Matt: I rented a cottage in Bluffton for a week in 2010. While there, Ron Pesch who is really the authority on the Actors' Colony ( gave me a detailed walking tour of the neighborhood. Ron introduced me to the current owner of the Keaton property (Jingles' Jungle has long since been taken down). He showed me the concrete wall out back where Joe Keaton carved his name years ago. Mostly, I just strolled around, staring at the lake, getting to know the feel of the place. I walked the base line of Buster's ball field and gauged how long it took to get from the Keaton's place to Cobwebs & Rafters and Pascoe's. I played with my daughter on the shore of Lake Michigan where the grand Lake Michigan Park once stood. It's not hard to see the appeal of the place.

Raquel: I think that’s a side of Buster Keaton that a lot of us are not very familiar with. What do you hope kids (and adults too!) get out of reading Bluffton?

Matt: I do hope the book will inspire interest in Buster and his work and spur readers on to check out his films (especially if they've never seen one). I also hope that the themes of friendship and finding one's place in the world resonate with readers. They are universal concerns no matter what the time period or setting.

Raquel: What are you working on now?

Matt: Right now I'm illustrating some picture books (one of which is the first I've also written). After that, I begin work on my next graphic novel which is a retelling of Snow White in 1930s Manhattan. I think I'm just going to keep writing books that require me to watch a lot of classic movies as research.

Raquel: Now, I've got to ask this question. What is your favorite Buster Keaton film?

Matt: Oh, picking a favorite Keaton film is very difficult. If pressed, I might have to go with The General. But I really love The Navigator. And Steamboat Bill, Jr. And his short film One Week is absolutely perfect. Can I just answer All of the Above?

Thank you Matt for taking the time to answer my questions!

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton
by Matt Phelan
240 pages - Hardcover
Candlewick Press
July 2013

Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton
by Matt Phelan
240 pages - Hardcover
Candlewick Press
July 2013

Barnes & Noble

Maybe I'm a little biased because I work for the publisher but I think this book is fantastic. A couple of years ago I was at a company party while working the big industry show Book Expo America. I'm pretty shy and was trying my best to mingle. I happened to overhear someone talking about Buster Keaton and of course this classic-film-loving gal perked right up. The person talking about Buster Keaton was Matt Phelan, an author/illustrator renowned for his children's book art. He has had much success with his historical middle-grade graphic novels and he was working on one about Buster Keaton. Once anything classic film related comes up in conversation, my introverted nature seems to be suppressed and I jump into the conversation with much enthusiasm. I talked to Matt for what seemed to be hours about Buster Keaton and about his work-in-progress, a graphic novel called Bluffton. And each Book Expo we attended, we chatted more in anticipation of the book's release.

Today Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton goes on sale to the public and I urge you to find a copy and buy it.

Bluffton follows the story of Henry Harrison, a young boy from Muskegon, Michigan. It's the summer of 1908 and a troop of vaudevillians, including a young Buster Keaton, have stopped to spend the season at Bluffton, a small neighborhood by Lake Muskegon. Buster is different from any other kid Henry has ever met. Henry is mesmerized by the vaudevillians, their animals, their props, their antics and their colorful personalities. Vaudeville life is the polar opposite of the seemingly hum-drum life Henry leads in Muskegon. However, Buster doesn't seem to think so. Buster lives the vaudeville life all the time and when he spends his summers in Bluffton he gets to be a regular kid for a while. Buster wants to play baseball, go swimming and fishing and do all the things a normal kid from 1908 would do during the summertime. Henry wants to juggle, do stunts, appear on stage and do everything Buster and the vaudevillians do.

This story has a lot of classic elements that work well. There is what I like to call "the new person dynamic" in which a stranger comes into someone's life and changes it forever. There is also opposites-attract and grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side factors. You learn a lot about both Henry and Buster from how different they are to each other and how they interact.

Matt Phelan does a superb job with the illustrations in the book, taking extra care with Buster Keaton. Keaton was known as the Great Stone Face but you'll see a much more playful and relaxed Keaton here. And in this book, unlike in his movies, he smiles! The graphic novel style of the book lends itself to film aficionados because it reads as though you were watching the actions on film.

Bluffton is intended for children ages 9-12 but I think people of all ages will enjoy this book. It's a great way to introduce children to an important figure in film history and to show them a time before electronic devices in which work and play were exclusively physical. Adults will revel in the nostalgia and the history and everyone will be transfixed by the amazing illustrations. This is a great choice for reluctant readers because of the accessibility of the illustrations, the story and the text.

You can see a free preview below of the book. Also, I'll be posting an interview with Matt Phelan soon on this blog! Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

TCM Classic Film Festival Day #5 Recap

The last day of the TCM Classic Film Festival was bittersweet for several reasons as you'll see below.

I went to the Cinerama Dome to attend a screening of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

And I took the obligatory photo of the Honeycomb ceiling.

Press Photo
Tom Brown of TCM hosted and the special guests included actors Mickey Rooney and Marvin Kaplan, actress Barrie Chase and Director Stanley Kramer's widow actress Karen Sharpe Kramer. Carl Reiner couldn't make it and Jonathan Winters had recently passed away. They screened a short tribute to Jonathan Winters and left an open seat for him. It was very sad not to have him there.

At one point during the screening, I went to the bathroom and I saw Mickey Rooney on his way out! Thank you to my weak bladder because I had several run ins with classic film stars and TCM staffers (especially Ben Mankiewicz who I saw about a dozen times) on my way to and from bathrooms. The stars are well protected though and Mickey had staff members nearby who were shielding him from some curious fans. I was just happy to see him up close again.

I plan to do a more thorough post on the talk that happened before the screening!

One of the sad things about the festival is that in order to attend everything you have planned to attend and also eat food in between screenings, you have to leave a few screenings early. I left this film during the intermission to grab a late lunch and to head over to the Grauman's Chinese in time to see Three Days of the Condor (1975).

Press Photo
I really love Three Days of the Condor (1975). I had seen it for the first time shortly before the festival and was happy to see it again. I have to say, of all the films I saw at the festival, I kinda regret going to this one. I regret leaving in the middle of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) to come see a film I had seen recently. When Robert Osborne interviewed Max von Sydow before the screening, they barely even talked about the movie! It's not even worth it for me to do a separate post about it. Considering I had seen Max von Sydow the day before and the film wasn't brought up then either, I didn't see much value in leaving the Cinerama Dome screening to attend this one. Although it was still wonderful to see the film on the big screen and Max von Sydow and his wife stayed to watch it with us for a bit which was nice too.

I ended up leaving Three Days of the Condor just after one of my favorite scenes and before the film ended to get in line for The General (1926). The thing about watching two films back to back in the same theater is that by the time you get out of the first one, a line has already formed for the next one. They won't let you stay in the theater so you have to get into the new line. I really wanted to see The General and knew a lot of people seeing Three Days of the Condor were going to get back in line for The General so I hightailed it out of there early and got in line. 

Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings had written the seating capacity of each of the theaters. I copied her notes and this was incredibly useful. When you are in line, they give you a number and if you know the theater's seating capacity then you know how good your chance is of getting in. Grauman's Chinese seats 1,100 so I know that being #106 that I had the best chance of getting in. By the way, there are two lines. One for Spotlight and VIP passes. They go first. Then Media and the other passes get in. If you have a Matinee or Palace pass or no pass at all and it's after 6 PM, you have to wait in a standby line and if there are any leftover seats then you can get in for $20 (or $10 if you have a student ID). Carlos had a Matinee Pass and had his student ID and cash on hand and got into several night time screenings this way.

The General (1926) was the grand finale of the festival. Robert Osborne came out to introduce it. He read from notes which he doesn't normally do but did in this case so that he wouldn't forget anything. He thanked the sponsors, especially Porsche because he got to ride around in one during the festival (lucky!) and he also thanked all the TCM staff members who helped make the festival happen. Osborne  announced that there will be a TCM Classic Film Festival in 2014. In fact, April 14, 2014 will be TCM's 20th anniversary so the festival will be tied into that. He also announced that December 3rd, 2013 is the official starting date for the TCM Cruise which will be on the Disney Magic. Osborne said that TCM is very particular about which ships they'll host their cruise on and Conde Nast has ranked Disney Magic as the #1 cruise ship in the world.

Then came some sad news. This screening was the penultimate one before the TCL Chinese Theatre (Grauman's Chinese) converts to IMAX. That means they will rip out all that seating, put in stadium seating and an IMAX screen. They will be closed from now until the summer for renovations. There will be fewer seats and who knows what this will mean for the future.

Osborne told us to look around the theatre after the screening. To take a really good look around because it will be the last time we will see it this way. We all booed and he asked us not to throw anything at him. (LOL). Osborne said that he's been told that they will do a great job and TCM has faith in them. It was nice of him to say that but no one really knows how things will turn out. The way we saw the theatre that night was the same way it had been since 1926! They had held the Academy Awards there and Casablanca (1944) won for Best Picture in that theatre.

The 25 minute Buster Keaton short One Week (1920) was screened before The General as an added bonus which was really great. The Alloy Orchestra played music to both films and it was just a wonderful experience. Seeing Buster Keaton and his hilarious antics on such a gigantic screen, in a beautiful historic theatre that had been that way since the film was released and to be with a thousand other appreciative fans was an experience that just blew me away.

Take a look at the picture above. After the film ended and the Alloy Orchestra took a bow to a standing ovation, we all took Robert Osborne's advice and took a good look at the theatre. We snapped pictures and marveled at the theatre's beauty knowing that we were some of the last people to see it that way. It was a really bittersweet moment.

After the screening, I headed over to Club TCM for the Opening Night Party. It was quite chaotic. There were so many people there and I felt a bit suffocated. Also, they turned me away at one entrance but let me in at another. I ended up hanging out with Carlos and a few others at the Roosevelt Hotel pool which was open to everyone and a lot less crowded. I said my goodbyes to many of the wonderful classic film bloggers I've known for years but got to meet for the first time at the festival. It was sad but I was happy to have had this experience. It's one I will never forget.

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