Our Hospitality was the second full length feature Buster Keaton directed, a comedic retelling of the historical Hatfield-McCoy feud, but where most of the feud seems to involve falling off cliffs and being swept down rivers.
Unlike his first full length film (Three Ages, which was basically three short films edited together), Our Hospitality actually has a single full length story that runs through the whole thing. Here, after growing up in New York, Buster unwittingly returns to his home town and discovers that basically everyone wants to murder him, except for his faithful dog, and a girl he met on the train.
The first half hour or so of this is fairly sedate, the jokes being of the good natured but not actually that funny sort that elicit smiles rather than laughs, and if it wasn’t for Buster’s excellent dog brightening things up I’d say this section was kind of poor really.
Weirdly, the second half of the film forgets about the dog entirely, possibly because he’s no longer needed to save the show. Instead we get a non-stop sequence of almost pure Buster Keaton magnificence, stunts, action, charm and even actual funny jokes.
Which is nice (and very good).
1. I watched this on blu-ray, where it looked amazing.
2. But grabbed the screenshots from youtube, where it looked less amazing, unfortunately.
3. I think I’m still struggling with the pacing of Buster’s full length films, where it seems they have roughly the same amout of jokes as his shorts, but spread out three times as thinly.
4. Saying that, the last half hour of this is a pretty breathtaking sequence of ever escalating events that presumably would never have been as amazing if it was squeezed down to the fit into a 25 minute shirt.
5. So what do I know, really.
6. Nothing, that’s what.
7. Also, this really does look beautiful in the blu-ray restoration version.
8. All these magnificent landscapes as wide as the screen can show
9. Which is not that wide, due to 4:3, but still beautiful.
10. This was the final film appearance of the wonderful Joe Roberts, who had a stroke during filming and then died shortly after (about a month before the film was released)
11. It was also the final film appearance of Natalie Talmadge, who didn’t die during filming but married Buster Keaton instead.
12. Finally, this was quite fun to watch simply because here I am in the 2020s watching a film made in the 1920s that’s set in the 1820s.
13. Hopefully this means that in the 2120s someone reviews this hundred year old review of this now two hundred year old film set in this now 300 year old time to complete this exciting sequence of events.
Title: Our Hospitality
Directors: Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone
Duration: 75 minutes