The Cameraman / Spite Marriage (Buster Keaton Collection) (1928/1929)
THE CAMERAMAN: This is one of the last films from Buster Keaton's classic period, before the coming of sound and interference from MGM spoiled his work and softened his popularity. The Great Stone Face portrays Luke Shannon, a "tintype" portrait photographer who develops a serious crush on Sally (Marceline Day), a beautiful woman who works as a secretary for MGM's newsreel department. Luke's primary rival for Sally's affections is a cameraman for the company, so Luke decides to sign to the newsreel department in hopes of impressing her. However, his hand with a movie camera is not especially sure at first; he mistakenly double exposes a reel of film that results in battleships sailing down Broadway, while his attempts to get footage of a Tong battle seem more successful until an organ grinder's monkey runs off with his film. Luke gets the axe before long, but he's not about to give up, and he tries to find another way to impress his lady love. This was Keaton's first film under a new contract with MGM, and director Edward Sedgwick for the most part allowed Keaton to stick to the creative formula of his best work. However, that would soon change, and many Keaton aficionados consider The Cameraman to be his last truly important work.
SPITE MARRIAGE: In his last silent film, Buster Keaton plays a pants-presser who pines for aloof stage actress Dorothy Sebastian. When she is jilted by her fiance Edward Earle, Sebastian spitefully marries Keaton. He is ecstatic (or as ecstatic as the poker-faced comedian ever gets) until he finds out why Sebastian has said "I do." Disconsolately, Keaton takes a job on the crew of a boat owned by bootleggers. He rescues Sebastian from the crooks in the climax, and she realizes at last that she's really loved him all along. Though Buster Keaton had involuntarily given over much of the control of his pictures to his new bosses at MGM (for example, he was no longer permitted to perform his more dangerous stunts), Spite Marriage still contains several vintage Keaton moments, including his classic "putting a drunken woman to bed" routine. The film would be remade in 1944 as the Red Skelton vehicle I Dood It.
~ All Movie Guide
Free and Easy (Buster Keaton Collection) (1930)
Buster Keaton's talkie debut (discounting his non-speaking guest appearance in Hollywood Revue of 1929) was Free and Easy, an uneven but generally amusing comedy with a Hollywood setting. When pretty Elvira (Anita Page) of Gopher City, Kansas wins a beauty contest, her prize includes a trip to Tinseltown and a screen test at MGM. Appointing himself protector of Elvira and her formidable mother (Trixie Friganza), gas-station attendant Elmer Butts (Keaton) accompanies them to California. Once they've arrived, Elmer manages to disrupt the daily MGM routine, stumbling into films in progress, knocking over sets and breaking props, and finding himself taking a screen test in which he repeatedly blows the single line "The queen has swooned" ("The sween has quooned", "The coon has sweened") over and over. Meanwhile, latin-lover film star Lorenzo (Robert Montgomery) sets his sights on innocent Elvira, attempting to seduce her while Elmer's back is turned. But Lorenzo turns out to be a good guy -- in fact, his real name is Larry, and he's a Kansas boy himself -- and he arranges for Elvira to get her big break. In a surprise turnaround, Elvira doesn't win a contract, but Elmer and Elvira's mom become popular musical-comedy stars! The film is studded with guest appearances by such MGM contractees as directors Cecil B. DeMille, Lionel Barrymore, Fred Niblo, and actors Gwen Lee, John Miljan, William Haines, Karl Dane and Keaton's then-girlfriend Dorothy Sebastian. Free and Easy was also filmed in French, Spanish and German-language versions, with Keaton speaking his words phonetically in all three. The film was remade as Pick a Star in 1937, and as Abbott and Costello in Hollywood in 1945. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
This Collection contains the following titles:
Free & Easy