This weekend I retested (and confirmed) my theory that there’s no better way to spend a Friday night than watching Buster Keaton on the big screen. A dear reader of this blog alerted me that some of Buster’s short films were showing with live musical accompaniment. Let’s get this straight: Buster Keaton movies, live music, alcoholic beverages, all happening together in a building that looks like a castle? Hot damn, count me in!
The Boston-based outfit Not So Silent Cinema performed their original music for Buster’s “The High Sign,” “One Week,” and “The Goat.” You are already familiar with “The Goat” because that’s where the iconic image of Buster behind bars comes from. I wouldn’t have guessed that the banjo and clarinet would go so amazingly well with Buster’s pratfalls and pork pie hat, but their score was just… wow, it was just an amazing fit. I’d listen to it right now if I could! Let me know if they ever come out with an album.
The best part, though? Sitting in a huge roomful of people, laughing and hooting and clapping together, cheering on our underdog hero as he haphazardly saves the day and gets the girl Having spent so much time watching silent movies alone on my laptop, or sequestered in Bowdoin’s basement library, I forget just how joyous and unifying those silent comedies can be. Here we are, over 80 years later, still laughing at these jokes. I’m impressed anew by how much of Buster’s silent humor translates seamlessly to today (who doesn’t love sticking it to the man?), but these three movies may have been chosen just for that reason. Something tells me that the blackface bit in College (1927) wouldn’t go over too well with Camberville’s film buffs.
In conclusion, I’m experiencing a resurgence of love for Buster Keaton and Arts at the Armory. Before I leave you, here is a gem from “The High Sign” I identify with these days: