• Buster Keaton

Thursday Nights at the Cinematheque

Charlie Chaplin with movie camera.  Announcement that screenings are open to the public and that admission is free.

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Marquee announcing Schedule

Buster Keaton behind a motion picture camera

Joseph Frank "BusterKeaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was an American actor, director, producer, writer, and stunt performer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face."  Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton's "extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, [when] he worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor–director in the history of the movies."  [wikipedia.com] red separator line

Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 7PM

The Saphead movie posterBuster Keaton Retrospective

Early Keaton Shorts


The Saphead 

(dir. Herbert Blaché, 1920), 77 mins.

The scatterbrained son of a Wall Street tycoon goes to the stock exchange and saves his father from bankruptcy.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 7PM

Three Ages movie posterBuster Keaton Retrospective

Three Ages

(dir. Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline, 1923), 63 mins. 

The rituals of courtship, romantic rivalry and love play out three times as a Man (Buster Keaton) vies with a Villain (Wallace Beery) for the Girl (Margaret Leahy). In the Stone Age, the rivalry is set off by dinosaurs, a turtle used as a Ouija board, and a round of golf with stones. In ancient Rome, the men display their brawn through a chariot race, using dogs instead of horses. In contemporary times, the Man finds himself overcome by modernity, including a very fragile car.

Our Hospitality

(dir. Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone, 1923), 74 mins. 

Sole heir Willie McKay (Buster Keaton) journeys by train from New York City to Kentucky to claim his fortune amid a decades-old feud with the Canfield family. En route, he meets and is smitten with young beauty Virginia (Natalie Talmadge), who invites him to dinner, but he realizes too late that she is the only daughter of patriarch Joseph Canfield (Joe Roberts). The rules of hospitality protect McKay from harm in their house, but he must outwit her brothers to resolve the feud.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for THE NAVIGATORBuster Keaton Retrospective

Sherlock Jr.

(dir. Buster Keaton, 1924), 45 mins

A kindly movie projectionist (Buster Keaton) longs to be a detective. When his fiancée (Kathryn McGuire) is robbed by a local thief (Ward Crane), the poor projectionist is framed for the crime. Using his amateur detective skills, the projectionist follows the thief to the train station -- only to find himself locked in a train car. Disheartened, he returns to his movie theater, where he falls asleep and dreams that he is the great Sherlock Holmes.

The Navigator

(dir. Buster Keaton and Donald Crisp, 1924), 59 mins

In this revered silent comedy, the wealthy and impulsive Rollo Treadway (Buster Keaton) decides to propose to his beautiful socialite neighbor, Betsy O'Brien (Kathryn McGuire). Alhough Betsy turns Rollo down, he still opts go on the cruise that he intended as their honeymoon. When circumstances find both Rollo and Betsy on the wrong ship, they end up having adventures on the high seas, allowing Keaton plenty of opportunities to display his trademark agility.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for GO WESTBuster Keaton Retrospective

Seven Chances

(dir. Buster Keaton, 1925), 56 mins. 

Struggling stockbroker Jimmie Shannon (Buster Keaton) learns that, if he gets married by 7 p.m. on his 27th birthday -- which is today -- he'll inherit $7 million from an eccentric relative. But, after Mary Jones (Ruth Dwyer), whom he's mooned over for years, turns him down, he has only hours to find a woman who'll marry him. When his friends try to help by placing an ad in the afternoon newspaper, the shy Jimmie finds himself chased through the streets by hundreds of marriage-minded women.

Go West

(dir. Buster Keaton, 1925), 69 mins. 

A greenhorn (Buster Keaton) heeds Horace Greeley, hops a freight train and befriends a cow named Brown Eyes.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for THE GENERALBuster Keaton Retrospective

Battling Butler

(dir. Buster Keaton, 1926), 71 mins

Meek millionaire Alfred Butler (Buster Keaton) goes on a camping excursion with his faithful servant (Snitz Edwards). Once in the wilderness, Alfred ignores outdoor activities in favor of trying to woo a charming mountain girl (Sally O'Neil), who wants nothing to do with her spoiled suitor. Trying to impress the girl, Alfred masquerades as boxing star "Battling" Butler (Francis McDonald). Unfortunately, when the real fighter finds out puny Alfred has been impersonating him, the brawl is on.

The General

(dir. Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, 1926), 75 mins

One of the most revered comedies of the silent era, this film finds hapless Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray (Buster Keaton) facing off against Union soldiers during the American Civil War. When Johnny's fiancée, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), is accidentally taken away while on a train stolen by Northern forces, Gray pursues the soldiers, using various modes of transportation in comic action scenes that highlight Keaton's boundless wit and dexterity.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for STEAMBOAT BILL JRBuster Keaton Retrospective


(dir. Buster Keaton and James W. Horne, 1927), 66 mins

Brilliant in his studies and dismissive of athletics, Ronald (Buster Keaton) finishes high school at the top of his class. But in college his uptight attitude doesn't win him any points with his sports-loving classmates, and pretty coed Mary (Anne Cornwall) ignores him in favor of brutish jock Jeff (Harold Goodwin). Hoping to impress Mary, Ronald makes a buffoon of himself at every sport imaginable, usually at Jeff's hand. But Ronald gets a final shot at glory in a big rowing race.

Steamboat Bill Jr.

(dir. Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner, 1928), 71 mins

In this silent comedy, college boy William Canfield Jr. (Buster Keaton) reunites with his boat captain father in a Mississippi River town. Though he's flummoxed by Willie's citified appearance, the elder Canfield seems to have found an ally to help him compete with fellow riverboat owner John James King (Tom McGuire). Willie finds himself falling for King's daughter, Mary (Marion Byron), but he has more pressing concerns when the weather turns bad and his father in arrested.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for THE CAMERAMANBuster Keaton Retrospective

So Funny It Hurts: Keaton & MGM 

(dir. Christopher Bird and Kevin Brownlow, 2004), 39 mins

A documentary which explores movie comedian Buster Keaton's five years under contract at MGM, where personal problems and studio tyranny nearly destroyed him.

The Cameraman

(dir. Buster Keaton and  Edward Sedgwick, 1928), 67 mins

In this silent classic, photographer Buster (Buster Keaton) meets Sally (Marceline Day), who works as a secretary for the newsreel department at MGM, and falls hard. Trying to win her attention, Buster abandons photography in order to become a news cameraman. In spite of his early failures with a motion camera, Sally takes to him as well. However, veteran cameraman Stagg (Harold Goodwin) also fancies Sally, meaning Buster will need to learn how to film quickly before he loses his job.

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Friday, October 20, 2017 - 7 PM

The Last Family poster

The Polish Film Festival, Los Angeles returns to the Armer Theater 

THE LAST FAMILY (Ostatnia rodzina)

(written and directed by Jan P. Matuszynski, 2016), 124 mins

Born in 1929, Zdzislaw Beksinski, a Polish surrealist painter famous for his eerie post-apocalyptic works, is a cult artist who has portrayed decaying bodies and fantasized of hard core S&M sexual experiences. Known for his keen sense of humor, he is also scared of spiders and tending to his sick mother. His neurotic, suicidal son, Tomasz, is a cult radio DJ and translator, responsible for the Polish versions of Monty Python films. His wife, Zofia Beksinska, a devoted Catholic, endures these two eccentrics and glues the family together. As the parents try to prevent their son from hurting himself, their lives are defined by painting, a series of near-death experiences, funerals and changing trends in dance music.red separator line

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for FREE AND EASYBuster Keaton Retrospective

Free and Easy

(dir. Edward Sedgwick, 1930), 92 mins

When Elvira (Anita Page) wins a beauty contest in her home state of Kansas, her clumsy manager, Elmer Butts (Buster Keaton), must take her to Hollywood for a chance at movie stardom. Forbidden to access the studios, Elvira and Elmer attend a film premiere and ogle at the many stars. In desperation, Elmer breaks onto a movie set -- and despite bumbling onto various active sets, wins a part as an extra. Meanwhile, Elvira attracts the attention of handsome film star Larry (Robert Montgomery).

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Monday, October 30, 2017 - 7PM


The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Das Testament Des Dr. Mabuse)

(Germany, 1932, Directed by Fritz Lang)

The arch-criminal Dr. Mabuse, confined to a lunatic asylum, uses his hypnotic powers to operate his plan to master the world.  Lang continued the penny-dreadful adventures of Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922), saturating the film with the same atmosphere of decadence and evil, but with the added layer of sound which he uses forcefully.  The mad villain expressed sentiments too close for Nazi comfort, provoking Goebbels to ask Lang to change the last reel.  Realizing the potential danger he was in, the director fled to France and then to the USA for a second career, leaving behind his wife, Thea Von Harbou, who had joined the Nazi party.

The film poster is on exhibit in the HFPA wing (No. 9 on the wall)red separator line

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for DOUGHBOYSBuster Keaton Retrospective


(dir. Edward Sedgwick, 1930),79 mins

Elmer (Buster Keaton) is a privileged and affluent young man who has never wanted for a thing in his whole life. Then he falls for a beautiful USO performer named Mary (Sally Eilers), who finds his lack of concern for his fellow man deeply appalling. After Elmer mistakenly enlists in the military, he is offered a second chance with this lovely lady, though he has some stiff competition in the form of the suave and tough Sgt. Brophy (Edward Brophy).

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Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for PARLOR, BEDROOM & BATHBuster Keaton Retrospective

Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath 

(dir. Edward Sedgwick, 1931), 73 mins

By accident an unlikely fellow (Buster Keaton) becomes something of a Romeo.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 7PM

poster for SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORKBuster Keaton Retrospective

Sidewalks of New York 

(dir. Jules White and Zion Myers, 1931), 74 mins

Wealthy philanthropist Homer Van Dine Harmon (Buster Keaton) resolves to turn one of his tenement houses into a boys' sporting club after falling for Margie (Anita Page), the sister of young hoodlum Clipper (Norman Phillips Jr.). Unknown to both Margie and Homer, the adult leader of a kids' street gang, Butch (Frank Rowan), employs Clipper to pull off several jobs. When Homer declares his feelings for Margie, she insists that she will marry him only if he can save Clipper from a life of crime.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for SPEAK EASIYBuster Keaton Retrospective

Speak Easily

(dir. Edward Sedgwick, 1932), 82 mins

Thanks to his butler (Jimmy Durante), a professor (Buster Keaton) thinks he has inherited a fortune and lives it up.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 7PM

Poster for WHAT! NO BEER?Buster Keaton Retrospective

What! No Beer?

(dir. Edward Sedgwick, 1933), 66 mins

Thinking Prohibition is over, a schemer (Jimmy Durante), his backer (Buster Keaton) and his brewmaster (Roscoe Ates) push beer.

Late Keaton Shorts


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Friday, December 14, 2017 - 7 PM

Poster for FILMBuster Keaton Retrospective

Keaton and Beyond: Cameos; Television 


(dir. Alan Schneider   w. Samuel Beckett, 1965), 20 mins

Film is a 1965 short film written by Samuel Beckett, his only screenplay. Beckett’s original choice for the lead – referred to only as “O” – was Charlie Chaplin, but his script never reached him.  Both Beckett and the director Alan Schneider were interested in Zero Mostel and Jack MacGowran. However, the former was unavailable and the latter, who accepted at first, became unavailable due to his role in a "Hollywood epic."  Beckett then suggested Buster Keaton.  Schneider promptly flew to Los Angeles and persuaded Keaton to accept the role along with "a handsome fee for less than three weeks' work."  James Karen, who was to have a small part in the film, also encouraged Schneider to contact Keaton.

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