Today I dig into the What Else to Watch part of DK Canada’s The Movie Book for my screening of Steamboat Bill, Jr. And I am delighted that the next few titles in the list are all Buster Keaton films I’ve never seen.
Today it’s Our Hospitality, and once again, Keaton pulls out all the stops in terms of stunts, laughs, and a solid story.
Set in the 1830s, the film’s prologue introduces us to a bit of a Hatfield & McCoy storyline, with an ongoing feud claiming lives on both sides of the family. Fearing for her baby son, a mother sends him to live with an aunt in New York.
Flash forward some twenty odd years and young Willie McKay (Keaton) receives word that a relative down south has died, leaving him the estate. With images of mansions and plantations in mind, he books his trip, aboard the Stephenson Rocket, the forefather to the locomotive (a collection of carriages pulled by a tiny engine) and heads south.
Joining him on the journey is The Girl (Natalie Talmadge – Keaton’s wife), and a bit of a relationship develops during the journey, all while the train weaves, wobbles, and is tailed by McKay’s faithful dog.
Arriving in the South, we learn that the Girl is the daughter of the Canfields, the McKay’s sworn enemy. That doesn’t stop the relationship, but does see the male members of the family trying to hunt McKay down at any point they come across him.
That is, unless he’s been invited into the house as a guest.
This makes for a hilarious sequence as the male members of the Canfields try to get Willie to step outside, outside the realm of their hospitality so that they can shoot him.
The film culminates on the river, with a number of the party racing towards a waterfall. This is made all the more exciting knowing that during the shooting, the cable used to hold Keaton and slow his rush down the river towards the falls broke and they kept filming (!) using that take in the final cut.
I had a lot of fun with this film, and Keaton was a force to be reckoned with, physically adept, his stunts and his comedic timing are top-notch, and he’s just so likeable on camera.
With just over an hour run time, this is one to share with the family, and remind those watching it that there are no computer generated effects, everything had to be done for real. A funny and extremely enjoyable film.
And thanks to DK Books’ The Movie Book, I have a few more Keaton titles to watch. Which is your favourite? Or maybe pick up a copy of this book and discover something new!