Monday, February 02, 2015

The Cameraman

Directed by Buster Keaton and Edward Sedgwick and written by Clyde Bruckman, Lew Lipton, and Joseph Farnham, The Cameraman is the story of a young man who tries to win over a secretary for MGM by becoming a cameraman for films and newsreels. The film is a silent comedy-adventure in which Keaton plays the titular role as it plays into a man trying to make it in the world of film. Also starring Marceline Day and Harry Goodwin. The Cameraman is a dazzling and exhilarating film from Buster Keaton and Edward Sedgwick.

The film plays into the world of a tintype portrait photographer who decides to become a newsreel cameraman in the hopes to win over a secretary working for MGM’s newsreel office. It’s a story that is quite simple as it plays into a man just trying to impress a girl but also finding himself into this new world of shooting a movie camera which has no clue on how to work on while the camera itself is a very old one. Throughout this young man’s journey, a lot of trials and tribulations ensue as he’s mocked by other cameramen while having some strange encounters with a police officer that add to the sense of hilarity all in this man’s determination to win over this young woman.

The film’s direction by Buster Keaton and Edward Sedgwick is quite thrilling in terms of the stunt work that Keaton would provide in his performances. Even in some elaborate moments where Keaton would create scenes that play into his character trying to fit in or be used as a joke. Through its simple yet engaging use of wide and medium shots, a lot of the action is captured as well as a notable scene where the young cameraman captures a gang war in the middle of Chinatown as the use of different angles come into play as there’s a sense of excitement that is captured.

There’s also some very tender moments where the direction plays off the romance between the titular character and the woman he is in love with Sally (Marceline Day) as Keaton and Sedgwick uses some amazing close-ups to capture the romance at its most innocent. Even as Keaton’s character is being humiliated while Sally tries to help as she would nearly get into trouble as the film’s climax wouldn’t just play into the cameraman trying to win her over but also get the respect of the people at MGM. Overall, Keaton and Sedgwick create a very exciting and fun film about a cameraman trying to get his shot to work for MGM and to win over a girl.

Cinematographers Reggie Lanning and Elgin Lessley do excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography in capturing the excitement of the scenes in the daytime along with a rainy nighttime sequence in a key moment where Keaton has another bad encounter with a policeman. Editors Hugh Wynn and Basil Wrangel do brilliant work with the editing from the usage of dissolves for the first film footage the cameraman brings to the MGM newsreel boss to the rhythmic cuts to capture the humor. Set decorator Fred Gabourie does fantastic work with the look of the MGM office and its glass window that serves as a continuous gag as well as the aquatic center where the cameraman and Sally try to go on a date. The film’s music by Arthur Barrow, from its 2002 restored edition, is superb for its playful score that features a lot of organs and harmoniums to capture the film’s humor and romantic tone.

The film’s phenomenal cast includes some notable small roles from Edward Brophy as a man the cameraman was forced to share a changing room at, Vernon Dent as a man in a very small bathing suit, Harry Gribbon as the policeman who would have very funny encounters with the cameraman, Sidney Bracey as the MGM newsreel boss, and Harold Goodwin as the arrogant cameraman Harold who thinks the titular character is a total joke. Marceline Day is brilliant as Sally as a MGM newsreel secretary who is charmed by the titular character as she tries to help him while being the one person who is nice to him. Finally, there’s Buster Keaton in a remarkable performance as the titular character as this young man that wants to be a cameraman as Keaton displays great physicality into his performance as well as his stunt work and willingness to work with anything including a little monkey that would steal the film from him.

The Cameraman is an incredible film from Buster Keaton and Edward Sedgwick. The film isn’t just one of Keaton’s quintessential films as well as one of the finest films of silent cinema. It’s a film that showcases the art of comedy and how Keaton is able to create elaborate stunts and performances that add so much more to the genre. In the end, The Cameraman is a spectacular film from Buster Keaton and Edward Sedgwick.

Buster Keaton Films: (The Rough House) - (One Week (1920 short)) - (Convict 13) - (The Scarecrow (1920 short)) - (Neighbors (1920 short)) - (The Haunted House (1921 short)) - (Hard Luck (1921 short)) - (The High Sign) - (The Goat (1921 short)) - (The Playhouse) - (The Boat) - (The Paleface) - (Cops) - (My Wife’s Relations) - (The Blacksmith) - (The Frozen North) - (The Electric House) - (Day Dreams (1922 short)) - (The Balloonatic) - (The Love Nest) - (Three Ages) - (Our Hospitality) - Sherlock Jr. - The Navigator - Seven Chances - (Go West (1925 film)) - (Battling Butler) - The General - (College (1927 film)) - Steamboat Bill Jr. - (Spite Marriage) - (The Gold Ghost) - (Allez Oop) - (Tars and Stripes) - (Grand Slam Opera) - (One Run Elmer) - (Blue Blazes) - (Mixed Magic) - (Love Nest on Wheels)

© thevoid99 2015


Anonymous said...

I hate that, to this day, I still have not seen a Keaton film! I really need to rectify this. Great review.

thevoid99 said...

Then rectify it now!!!

Wendell Ottley said...

You've been all over the roaring twenties, lately. I commend you for that. I need to see more from that time frame myself, especially more Keaton.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell Ottley-Well, I needed to see more films from that period as I also wanted to do the films of Buster Keaton. I'm glad I chose him as one of my discoveries. I want to do more.