Sunday, March 19, 2023

the last book I ever read (Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life, excerpt fifteen)

from Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life by James Curtis:

The only time Samuel Beckett ever came to the United States was to make a film with Buster Keaton. It wasn’t originally planned that way. The untitled short was to be one of three gathered into a portmanteau feature titled Project One, the other two authors being Harold Pinter and Eugène Ionesco. The entire project had been in the works for more than a year, and a company called Evergreen Theatre, Inc., an unlikely partnership between Grove Press and Four Star Television, had been formed to produce it. Beckett had conceived his portion of the feature as possessing “a stylized comic reality akin to that of a silent movie” and thought in terms of Chaplin or Zero Mostel for it. Chaplin, however, was inaccessible and Mostel was unavailable. Then the preference became actor Jack MacGowran, who had appeared in no fewer than nine Beckett works, including the first English-language production of Endgame. Small and elfin, with a face as distinctive—though certainly not as well known—as Keaton’s, MacGowran was on Beckett’s wavelength in a way Keaton could never be, and it was the loss of MacGowran to a stage commitment that occasioned a last-minute appeal to Keaton and, in England, to Alec Guinness.

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