How big is Buster's part in this film? A few minutes? The entire thing?share
His role is important, but he's not on that long.
Johnny Carson 1925-2005. We will never forget you.
I'm still checking this one out. I love watching Keaton's late work...older, sober, dealing with new moviemaking standards and a new medium (tv) but still working and still putting 110% into it. Did you see him in the Twilight Zone episode? I just get the sense that Serling was clever enough to write the janitor and scientist into the repair shop and say, "Now take it from here."share
Buster made an EXCELLENT film around this time -- about heading across Canada on the railway.
A documentary that accompanies it is fantastic as well.
So DISH, cutie! What's it called? Where can I find it??
He was almost 70 but he still had what it took. Don't read books such as Hollywood Babylon that had him made out to be a hopeless destitute drunk in those later years. He had a lot of rough spots in his life and not all were from his own doing. Back in his heyday he was married to one of the worst tempermental drunks around, Natalie Talmadge who did everything to destroy him after they split in the 1930s & never forgave him for the rest of his life.share
"The Railrodder". 1965 from the National Film Board of Canada. It's loads of fun and the DVD has a behind the scenes doc, "Buster Keaton Rides Again", which at 55 minutes is longer than "The Railrodder". A must for any Buster fan. My favourite scene is Buster and Eleanor watching a ballgame on TV. He's yelling at the TV and she's sushing him. So cute.
It's available on the NFB website and Amazon.
Yes, sir, I'm going to do nothing like she's never been done before!
Buster's character is crucial but doesn't get much screen time. He still gets some great moments and really good lines.
I read some reports that Buster, doing his own stunts for this film, alarmed the crew.
First of all, what stunts? He got his arm tangled up in a tree branch, jogged among some chariots, and did in unscripted bump into a tree. If anybody got their knickers into a twist, well, this wasn't some random old guy they hauled out of a nursing home. He was BUSTER KEATON. A man who spent his childhood with a suitcase handle sewn into his clothes so his father could fling him around onstage. A man who scampered like a demented squirrel atop moving locomotives. A man who jumped off buildings. A man who tossed railroad ties from atop the cowcatcher of a moving train. A man who hired a crew to build a freaking house then drop it on him! He knew his own limitations and if he figured he could take a ground level fall without killing himself, then well maybe he could!
Almost everything you say about Buster Keaton and his stunt-work in vaudeville and silent movies is true. But you have to remember that '...Forum' was made 40 years later, while he was in his 70's, and most people's body aren't as supple at that age. Plus he'd already broken his neck once during the filming of 'Sherlock, Jr.', when he landed badly on a rail. (This was discovered only many years later, through an x-ray.) However, if I recall the 'American Masters' series correctly, the 'house' incident did not involve a purpose-built structure; it was a real house. The crew sliced the front off it, Buster marked off where the window would be when it fell, and then the front was winched back into place. When it came time for the actual filming, the camera crew couldn't look, because they were sure Buster would be killed. (If you look carefully, you can see someone inside the house, giving it a push so that it will fall properly; he then scampers off-camera.)
In the TV series 'American Masters' episodes on Buster Keaton, British stuntman Mick Dillon was finally allowed to reveal that it was he who did the long-shots of Erronius running between the racing chariots, though there is one close-up of Buster not too far from the action behind him. Horses can go 35 mph at full gallop. While that may not sound like much, try dodging a car going that speed when it's heading straight for you, out of control. If any of the racing horses had gotten away from the chariot-drivers and headed in his direction, he could have been badly hurt, if not killed.
However, anything that involves physical risk, however minor, is considered a 'stunt', because if anything goes wrong, it can cost a horrendous about of time and money. Even Amanda Tapping, in an early episode of SG-1, sustained a concussion in a fight sequence when she was pushed too hard into the wall of an elevator. The producers were not going to risk anything happening to a screen legend like Buster Keaton.
I recognize the fact that Buster wouldn't be as spry as he once was, but he still had a head full of experience and a very strong grasp of what he (at any age) was or wasn't capable of. It's a matter of trusting the man's judgment, which seemed like a basic matter of respect. If Buster said he was able to do a stunt, then he was able to do it. If he said, "We'll need a double for that one," then get a double. Trust the man. Especially since the core hurt of what MGM had done to him was that they simply DIDN'T trust him.
He was 70 years old. He was dying. This was his last hurrah. Give him as much of his dignity as possible. Treat him as if he knows what he's doing.
I figured that the chariot race shot involved playing with depth of field in order to give the illusion that Buster and the horses were much closer to each other than they really were. I figured the long shot was probably shot at a faster speed to give the illusion that the chariots were speeding through the forest a lot faster than they were. Perhaps that can't readily be done without somebody like Elgin Lessley at the crank. I don't know enough about modern film equipment to say how much they could have played with the film speed.
I'll have to see that "American Masters" episode. Can it be bought, or viewed online?
And how much of "The Railrodder" was Keatonesque stunts and how much was FX/doubles?
I think there was a lot of trust on the '...Forum' set, actually. But even that little jump of the bottom step could have been a problem if he'd landed wrong. Weirder things have happened. However, apparently the big problem with the tree bit was that it was an ad-lib, so the crew weren't expecting, and though he'd really hurt himself.
Yes, there was some depth-of-field distortion in the close-up of Buster, but in the long shots, the horses are at a flat-out gallop. It's not as easy to fake speed with a horse as it is with a car.
The 3-part retrospective was 'Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow'. It was filmed in England, and shown in America on the series 'American Masters'. I don't know if it's available on DVD. My copy is a personal dub from TV.
Unfortunately, I don't know much about 'The Railrodder', but according to BK:AHATF, he did everything himself after much planning to make things as safe as possible. On the other hand, I've only seen the clips, and nothing was particularly dangerous, except maybe where he's standing on the handcar with no one to steer it.
He was going about a lot of his business on a moving handcar. There was always the risk of him falling off and getting hurt.
There's a shot of him jumping off a bridge into the Thames but I suspect that Buster himself would be the one wanting a stunt double for that at his age. Though you never know; they may have had to insist.
"American Masters" was put out by PBS in the US, which to me means that it was done with my tax money which means that they at least owe us the opportunity to watch it on DVD. There's no point in buying the VHS since that's obsolete technology that will quickly be unviewable as the remaining VHS players conk out.
@NYW...I'm with you. BK was awesome and although he may have done stunts back in Hollywood's primitive days, whether or not he did them himself was pretty much immaterial to the genius of "The Great Stoneface." He was a gifted comedian and a gifted stuntman...two talents that are, and generally should be, distinct. The fact that he had both talents is just gravy on the great big hot turkey sandwich of ol' Damfino.share
I figured the long shot was probably shot at a faster speed to give the illusion that the chariots were speeding through the forest a lot faster than they were.
He's the father who is looking for his children, who turns out to be Miles Gloriosus and Philia (I think that's the virgin's name). They have the rings with the gaggle of geese on it.
So, though Buster himself is only on screen for a brief amount of time for whatever reason, technically in the background he is "on screen" by way of his son and daughter from the time Glorious rides into town on.
Zero's facial expressions are priceless!
Part of the issue for Buster Keaton hitting the tree was that, like Phil Silvers, the director Richard Lester did not allow him to wear his glasses on camera (no anachronisms allowed, apparently). So Lester & the crew thought he had hit the tree because he couldn't see. Lester thought he was going to be responsible for the death and/or horrible injury of poor old Keaton. Keaton evidently thought it was pretty funny how much he had scared people.share
LMAO...that SO sounds like our boy!share