Monday, March 6, 2023

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

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

The first film reflecting Gray’s participation, My Wife’s Relations, was firmly set in “the foreign section of a big city,” possibly Greenpoint, the portion of Brooklyn known as Little Poland. Said Keaton, “My Wife’s Relations—that is, the hazy idea of it—was born when Eddie Cline and I saw a postman in the East, unable to read the inscription on a letter in a foreign settlement, compare it to the lettering on a sign board.” With Buster, for once, was no ingénue but a substantial character actress named Kate Price, who was twenty-three years his senior and nothing at all like the wispy Virginia Fox. In the film’s opening, he gets framed for breaking a window, then, due to the language barrier—the judge doesn’t speak a word of English—finds himself married to the daughter of a family of Irish roughnecks. Buster has a hard time fitting in until they mistakenly think he’s due for a big inheritance and decide to put on the dog. His escape from the liveried digs they’ve all moved to has him climbing out a top-floor window and descending four flights by swinging from awning to awning, a breathtaking stunt he performs in a single shot, typically refusing to cut or cheat the effect in any way.

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