April 25, 2017
Review #926: Our Hospitality.
Buster Keaton (Willie McKay), Joe Roberts (Joseph Canfield), Natalie Talmadge (Virginia Canfield), Ralph Bushman (Clayton Canfield), Craig Ward (Lee Canfield), Monte Collins (The Parson), Joe Keaton (The Locomotive Engineer), Jack Duffy (The Locomotive Leader), and Kitty Bradbury (Aunt Mary) Directed by Buster Keaton (#757 - Seven Chances, #762 - College, #805 - The Navigator, and #877 - Three Ages, and #908 - The General) and John G. Blystone.
This was Keaton's third starring role in a feature film (along with his second that he directed), and it was the second film of his released in 1923, the first being Three Ages, previously reviewed just last November by me. In that movie, there were good moments, but it was moderate entertinament that benefited from Keaton being himself. In this movie, the plot is much more focused, feeling well-rounded and working with the gags (instead of a movie with just gags and some sort of plot cobble) to make for a cohesive film. Inspired by (or better yet, satirizing) the Hatfield-McCoy feud (though the time period is decades prior to the feud), the film has a fine attention to set design, with some wonderful cinematography by Gordon Jennings and Elgin Lessley along with a good use of the locations (such as the Truckee River in California) and sets. The film is also pretty funny, too. The sight gags are present, but there is also a sense of adventure and madcap thrill that make the film stand out. The climax is a good sign of the fun present, with Keaton and Talmadge (her last film) having an easily charming kind of chemistry together along with a finale that allows the former to engage in rip roaring fun. The rest of the cast is also well put-together, with Roberts (who died a month prior to the release of the film) being a capable adversary for Keaton. One particularly interesting note is that there were three generations of Keatons in this film: Buster Keaton plays the starring character, while his father plays the locomotive engineer and his son plays a 1 year old version of the main character in the beginning of the film. On the whole, this is a fine piece of film that strives to entertain along with inspire some laughs, succeeding in both quite well.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.