Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lost in The Talkies...

... and old in The Can

Considered by many to be his best feature film, Buster Keaton's The Cameraman (1928) played New York's Capitol Theatre (Broadway and 51st) on September 21, 1928. Included on the bill was a personal appearance by Hal Roach's Hollywood rascals, Our Gang.

Free and Easy (1930)

On the third week of September 1928, Seattle newspapers were abuzz with "All singing, all talking, all dancing" and hokey, old-fashioned silent movies had already become rare as hen's teeth. Keaton's disappointing last silent film, Spite Marriage (1929) quickly came and went, followed by a huge reception for his next picture, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, in which Keaton played a insignificant, but obligatory part as an MGM contract player. The Hollywood Revue played at Seattle's new Fox Theatre (7th and Olive) for what seemed like months.

Keaton's next Seattle appearance was given second billing (most likely an earlier short) at the University District's Neptune Theatre, listed only as "Buster Keaton" on September 9, 1929.

Missing the boat…

Less than one week after Keaton's dreadful talkie Free and Easy (1930) (which also enjoyed a long run) opened at the Fox on Friday April 11, 1930, The Cameraman finally crept into the second-run 723 seat Winter Garden Theatre (1515 3rd Ave between Pike and Pine) for a short, inconspicuous visit, no doubt to wring what pennies MGM could from their investment, leaving Keaton's masterpiece virtually unknown in Seattle until revival fans discovered it decades later.

The Winter Garden ca.1937

STG Presents!

Seattle Theatre Group, Northwest Film Forum and Trader Joes present Silent Movie Mondays and Buster Keaton in The Cameraman with live musical accompaniment performed by organst Jim Riggs at the Paramount's original 4/20 Publix 1 Wurlitzer.

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