THE ABCD ANNUAL SILENT CLASSIC
This is a comedy melodrama about the feud between the Caulfield and McKay families. Willie McKay (Buster Keaton) had been taken to New York as a child (Buster Keaton Jr) to escape the feud. He returns as an adult to claim an inheritance, unaware of what he is walking back into. On the train (an exact replica of the Stephenson Rocket) he meets and falls in love with a girl who turns out to be none other than a Caulfield, played by Keaton’s wife, Natalie Talmadge. The danger he is in, once recognised, provides opportunity for Keaton’s legendary deadpan, slapstick comedy. (Cert U)
Dirs: J Blystone/Buster Keaton 65 mins USA 1923
Accompanied on piano by Andrew Youdeli of the NFT.
7.30 p.m. start at St Nicolas’ Church, Market Place, Abingdon.
USA 1923 75mins Cert U
Accompanied on piano by Andrew Youdell
We are delighted to screen this evening, in the fiftieth anniversary year of his death, one of Buster Keaton’s early features as an independent film-maker. Born on October 4th 1895, he died aged seventy on February 1st 1966 in Woodland Hills, California, remaining active in film work, including acting appearances, until the very last year of his life.
“The first of Keaton’s great films of the twenties was Our Hospitality, most of which was shot on location up and around Lake Tahoe and along the banks of the Truckee River in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The film was a tremendous leap forward for Buster, demonstrating here a total mastery of the feature film form. Like The General, [it] is a period piece, an ‘historical’ film set in the American South in 1831. The idea for the film came from one of Keaton’s gag writers, the fat and jolly Jean Havez, who had suggested a Hatfield and McCoy story about one of the most famous feuding families of the Old South, the kind of family that Twain included in Huckleberry Finn […]”
Tom Dardis, Keaton: The Man who Wouldn’t Lie Down (London, 1969)
William McKay – Buster Keaton
Virginia Canfield – Natalie Talmadge
McKay as a baby – Buster Keaton jnr.
Lem Doolittle – Joseph Keaton
Aunt Mary – Kitty Bradbury
Joseph Canfield – Joe Roberts
Director – Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone
Script – Clyde Bruckman, Joe Mitchell, Jean Havez
Cinematography – Elgin Lessley, Gordon Jennings
Art Director – Fred Gabourie
Executive Producer – Joseph M. Schenck (see opening credit)
Andrew Youdell has played piano for us once a year since November 1985, when he accompanied The Four
Horsemen of the the Apocalypse starring Rudolph Valentino. He has made regular appearances at the National Film Theatre for even longer but he accompanied his first film, Fritz Lang’s Siegfried, at the Leeds Training College Film Society in 1963, aged fifteen, when none of the older piano students volunteered. He firmly believes that the music should support the film – and not distract from it.
“Wonderful! Most enjoyable Superb!” (x 2)
“Excellent – what a pity we can only have one silent film a season.”
“Brilliant film and music – thank you!”
“All very enjoyable. Many thanks to Andrew.”
“Many thanks, Andrew Youdell. Look forward to seeing and hearing you again soon.”
“Much better than 007 – well done Andrew.”
“So much fun!”
“Very enjoyable – humour clearly doesn’t change in 90 years!”
“93 years old and the humour is still sharp, with amazing special effects. Great story and a great atmosphere.”
“Amazing what can happen on a first date – if only he had had a Swiss Army knife. Fantastic!”
“They don’t make ’em like that anymore!”
“Olde Worlde period piece, with absolutely no Health and Safety in evidence and laughs from start to finish”
“Amazing visual effects”
“A jolly good crowd-pleasing comedy with a cohesive plot and some enjoyable set pieces. Youdell’s music brought this 90 year-old relic to life and his interesting introduction made us aware of aspects as intriguing as the film itself.”
“Too silly for words, as usual”
“Why didn’t anyone feed the dog?”
“Talk about God’s Wonderful Railway!”