Buster Keaton

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Coney Island

Coney Island was Buster's fifth short with Roscoe Arbuckle. It's mostly Fatty's show, with plenty of shameless mugging and cross-dressing. The opening establishing shot shows Luna Park at night in time-lapse, and several later scenes are staged on entertaining Coney Island attractions. The film breaches the fourth wall many times: Fatty winks directly to the camera when he gets a bright idea (2:15, 19:15), and most notably he instructs the cameraman to pan upwards before he removes his pants (12:30).

There's little plot and still less subtlety of character. Except for mild cross-dressing jokes, the comedy is pure slapstick. Still, many of the pratfalls are amazing, showing off the dexterity of vaudevillians Keaton and Al St. John. They take a spectacular tumble together when two cars on The Witching Waves ride collide (6:30). Later, St. John balances upside-down and flays his legs while falling over backwards (8:15, 21:15). Buster throws in a standing backflip for no particular reason (18:00). Fatty takes his share of falls too, but they are less dramatically acrobatic than those of Keaton and St. John.

Buster wears a flat hat like his later porkpie from his first appearance (0:30). Otherwise, his later character traits are not yet in evidence. He's far from deadpan: like Fatty and St. John, he mugs shamelessly, crying when he's broke and a rival pays for his girl's ticket (4:45), later laughing when he unknowingly hits Fatty with a huge test-of-strength hammer at the Dial Striker (9:15) and again when he outs Fatty's drag disguise to Fatty's wife (19:30). As usual, Buster gets his girl in the end (with a kiss at 22:15). Keaton does double duty, playing the fourth mustachioed cop (most recognizable between Arbuckle and St. John at 22:45) in addition to his main character. He also stands in as stunt double for the girl when Fatty and the girl get catapulted out of their boat at the bottom of the water slide (6:30), with Buster shooting dramatically out of the top of the frame.


Coney Island

Coney Island was Buster's fifth short with Roscoe Arbuckle. It's mostly Fatty's show, with plenty of shameless mugging and cross-dressing. The opening establishing shot shows Luna Park at night in time-lapse, and several later scenes are staged on entertaining Coney Island attractions. The film breaches the fourth wall many times: Fatty winks directly to the camera when he gets a bright idea (2:15, 19:15), and most notably he instructs the cameraman to pan upwards before he removes his pants (12:30).

There's little plot and still less subtlety of character. Except for mild cross-dressing jokes, the comedy is pure slapstick. Still, many of the pratfalls are amazing, showing off the dexterity of vaudevillians Keaton and Al St. John. They take a spectacular tumble together when two cars on The Witching Waves ride collide (6:30). Later, St. John balances upside-down and flays his legs while falling over backwards (8:15, 21:15). Buster throws in a standing backflip for no particular reason (18:00). Fatty takes his share of falls too, but they are less dramatically acrobatic than those of Keaton and St. John.

Buster wears a flat hat like his later porkpie from his first appearance (0:30). Otherwise, his later character traits are not yet in evidence. He's far from deadpan: like Fatty and St. John, he mugs shamelessly, crying when he's broke and a rival pays for his girl's ticket (4:45), later laughing when he unknowingly hits Fatty with a huge test-of-strength hammer at the Dial Striker (9:15) and again when he outs Fatty's drag disguise to Fatty's wife (19:30). As usual, Buster gets his girl in the end (with a kiss at 22:15). Keaton does double duty, playing the fourth mustachioed cop (most recognizable between Arbuckle and St. John at 22:45) in addition to his main character. He also stands in as stunt double for the girl when Fatty and the girl get catapulted out of their boat at the bottom of the water slide (6:30), with Buster shooting dramatically out of the top of the frame.


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