Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

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Rob Farr
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Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Rob Farr » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:42 pm

For all the serious research done on Buster's films, it is surprising to me how skimpy the acting credits are on his silent two-reelers. For example, as familiar as The Blacksmith is to us, only Buster, Joe Roberts and Virginia Fox are ever credited. But the film must have at least a cast of ten. Is Gale Henry the goofy horsewoman to whom Buster installs a shock absorber for her aching derriere? Henry was starring in her own series for her own production company around this time, so if it is indeed she, her cameo must be seen as a tribute to Buster. And who is the old constable? Or the twit who owns the immaculate auto that Buster destroys?
Rob Farr
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Ian Elliot
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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Ian Elliot » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:00 pm

This would add very little to Keaton scholarship, and I expect that it's been noticed before, but I think Mal St. Clair is one of the two engineers from the train that nearly runs over Buster toward the film's end.

Going out on a limb here: the equestrienne who receives the shock absorber does some impressive high kicking that makes me think of Charlotte Greenwood. The hair is the wrong shade, but can it be her? Greenwood was in Hollywood in September of '21, around the time THE BLACKSMITH was shot, to start a film (apparently soon abandoned) of her Broadway vehicle Linger Longer Letty.

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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Steve Massa » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:35 pm

Hi guys
I dug out my DVD copy of THE BLACKSMITH and took a fresh look. I think Ian's correct about the one train engineer being Mal St Clair, the second engineer is Eddie Cline.

The old constable is Billy Franey (one of Rob's favorites) who seems to be filling in for Ford West, and plays the same character and wears the same goatee that he does in THE IRON MULE.

As far as the horsewoman, she looks a little like Gale Henry (not tall or skinny enough) and is limber like Charlotte Greenwood, but it isn't either one. Possibly she's a stage performer that Buster knew.

There's a number of silent comedy regulars who turn up in Buster's shorts. Laura La Varnie and Helen Gilmore are in THE ELECTRIC HOUSE, while Joe Murphy, Monty Collins Sr., and Jesse Weldon are in THE PLAY HOUSE.

One of the most overlooked Keaton players is the giant from THE HIGH SIGN who's the leader of the Blinking Buzzards. Turns that he's Ingram "Seven Foot" Pickett, who had worked at Balboa Studios and is in a few of Al St John's shorts for Warner Brothers like SPEED ('19) and FIRED AGAIN ('20). Pickett soon dropped out of the movies and got involved in state politics in New Mexico.

Steve

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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Steve Massa » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:16 am

Hi guys
I want to go back to THE BLACKSMITH and go out on a limb with some speculation about who may be playing, as Rob says, the "twit who owns the immaculate auto that Buster destroys." He looks an awful lot like pictures I've seen of Clyde Bruckman. It's possible, as Jean Havez turns up in THE GOAT and Joseph Mitchell in HARD LUCK, not to mention Eddie Cline all the time. Anyway, thought I'd bring this up for discussion.

Steve

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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Ian Elliot » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:06 pm

Thank you for all these IDs, Steve. In this capture, the best view we get of the Rolls owner, he doesn't quite look like Bruckman to me:

Image

But I think this is Bruckman, along with Joseph Mitchell, standing by during the goat gland episode in COPS:

Image

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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Steve Massa » Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:01 pm

Hi Ian
Thanks for the images. Seeing them together I think you're correct about the guy in THE BLACKSMITH not being Bruckman.

Steve

Jim Kerkhoff
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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Jim Kerkhoff » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:03 pm

I just picked up on this string and thought I'd share a still showing Ingram Pickett with Gale Henry in her short comedy "The Scrub Woman." This particular scene was shot at the Balboa Studio on March 23, 1919.

Jim K

Image

Louie Despres
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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Louie Despres » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:17 pm

Jim,
Is there anyway to make your pictures a little larger so we can see what's going on in there?

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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Jim Kerkhoff » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:21 pm

Okay, Louie, here 'ya go ...

Image

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Re: Buster Keaton's Silent 2-Reel Credits

Postby Louie Despres » Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:13 am

Thanks, Jim, great still.


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