Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Cameraman

A man who sells tinted photographs on a New York City street corner comes across a young woman during a ticker tape and is immediately smitten. After learning she works as a secretary for MGM's newsreel department, he trades his camera for a moving one and begins shooting footage in an attempt to woo her. The Cameraman was the first studio film for the great silent clown Buster Keaton who worked independently up until this point. It is considered his last great film before studio interference, and probably foremost the talkies, stifled his career. It is not his finest work, but it is still a delightful film containing much of the great Stoneface's grace and wit. I really liked particular segments involving Keaton's attempts to open a piggy bank, his difficulties during a date on a packed double decker bus, and his exploits involving a dead monkey he is forced into buying that miraculously comes back to life. A friend recently said that Keaton was superior to Chaplin, and it is a popular sentiment among more than a few critics, but I feel that without taking anything away from Charlie, both men deserve to sit on the same pedestal as two of the foremost comics, not only of the silent era, but of the history of the cinema.