Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buster and Fern

I had the amazing experience of going to the Bell Lightbox Theatre this afternoon to see a screening of Buster Keaton's comic gem "Sherlock Junior" - the icing on the cake was Fern Lindzon's sextet and the fact that she composed the score to accompany the film.

The score was impeccable with lovely cymbals washes during a scene by the ocean to traffic bleating with the clarinet and accordian. Way to go, Fern - perfect klezmer and jazz influenced scoring!

We often forget in our day and age of being bombarded by digital special effects where it all began and how wonderfully effective well thought out staging can be...the fascinating conceit of a film within a film not to mention Keaton's incredibly creative sequences - riding on the handlebars of a motorcycle through all kinds of terrain and numerous obstacles, the dream scenario when his character "enters" a film and cycles through a variety of locations - united by his clever physical comedy segues.

The nail baiting billiard playing scene is worth it alone...I wonder how many times they shot that one....

Keaton is a fascinating character  - apparently one film bio has been made about him - maybe it's time for an update? He was born to entertain - pretty much growing up in vaudeville and a highly successful, if often child endangering family act at that. He had an active career up until his death - returning to stage after a souring experience with MGM and a serious battle with alcoholism - appeared on TV and in films.

The apocraphyal story about how he got his nickname was after Houdini witness him falling down some stairs backstage with nary a scratch and deemed that it was a real "buster" - a successful fall that didn't injure seriously.  Apparently he didn't realize until years later he had broken his neck when he was doused by a torrent of water from the watertower in "Sherlock Junior" - the force pushing him down onto the railroad track....

I suggest getting to know more about him....
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