November 7, 2016
Review #865: The Saphead.
Buster Keaton (Bertie "The Lamb" Van Alstyne), Beulah Booker (Agnes Gates), Edward Connelly (Musgrave), Edward Jobson (Rev. Murray Hilton), Edward Alexander (Watson Flint), Odette Taylor (Mrs. Cornelia Opdyke), Carol Holloway (Rose Turner), Irving Cummings (Mark Turner), Jack Livingston (Dr. George Wainright), and William H. Crane (Nicholas Van Alstyne) Directed by Herbert Blaché and Winchell Smith.
This was Keaton's first starring role in a feature film, as he was recommended for this movie by Douglas Fairbanks, with this propelling him to stardom. This was not written by Keaton unlike some of his later films, but there is at least a decent enough story, albeit with a weight of melodrama that nearly crushes it. It takes a while for the plot to get to Keaton, in part due to having to set up the plot lines that will soon converge into such a strange mish-mash, with secret affairs, staying out to late to impress a girl (who is also your adopted sister), stock broking, and a last act that manages to show a bit of what made Keaton so interesting to watch. One of my favorite parts is him trying to keep his balance (of sorts) while at the stock exchange being bullied a bit by the other brokers, keeping his composure neatly enough. The movie is only really interesting when Keaton is around, showcasing his famed stoic expression and his grace that would make him a star. The rest of the cast isn't bad, being serviceable for this kind of silent film. The film takes a while to dig itself out of being a drama, but it is decently paced at 77 minutes. For 1920, it is a relatively decent movie, and it is fine to suggest this film for someone wanting to start getting into Buster Keaton films.
Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.