Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase

by Marion Meade

I was first introduced to Buster Keaton's work in college. I had sated myself with all things Marx Brothers and was interested in checking out other film comedians. When I saw an ad at school for a screening of The General, I caught the show and subsequently started devouring all things Buster. Eventually I saw all the major films and read all the biographies, so I moved onto other things. But recently I felt an urge to check out one of the biographies written since my Keaton fad and picked up Ms. Meade's book.

Cut to the Chase focuses more on Buster's personal life than his filmmaking. Ms. Meade tells the story of the boy who starred in vaudeville, the young man who created some of the best films of the silent era, and the older man who struggled with alcoholism and managed to work in show business until his dying day. She somewhat spoiled the idyllic picture I had in my mind of Buster's early years, knocking him and his friends and family down off the pedestal I had them on. I also think she did a better job of presenting Keaton's life in its overall historical context. (As opposed to its Hollywood historical context.) Of, course it has been over 20 years since I've read Blesh's and Dardis' efforts, so take the comparisons with a grain of salt. 

So glad I checked it out. Now I've got to watch some movies.
LibraryThing link


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