Any other Buster Keaton fans here?

acptulsa Dec 2, 2011

  1. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Of course, everyone knows The General a takeoff on the famous Civil War incident and utilizing a number of genuine 4-4-0s (which were easy to come by back in the 'twenties, as the last of them were just being retired). He and his production company actually built a stretch of double track out in rural California to film many scenes of that one.

    But most of his films feature trains at some point or another, and a few more use them very prominently. In the feature length film Go West, one of the bigger Santa Fe Consolidations figures prominetly, and that one is great fun. The climax features a cattle drive through downtown Los Angeles. Where else are you going to see that? Our Hospitality is a hilarious medium-length movie set before the Civil War, and features a recreation of the Stephenson, possibly the one built for B&O's centennial, and the trainset from the old Mohawk and Hudson (or a recreation of it). That is seriously good stuff, there.

    Sherlock, Jr. features a dream sequence in which Buster narrowly escapes being mowed down by a Santa Fe train in the desert. Run it frame-by-frame and you'll discover that it looks like he did that stunt with a fast-moving passenger express, but in fact he dodged death for the scene in front of a forty mph at best Santa Fe type of the 1600 series, and then they splice footage in of the fast passenger train starting at about the tender.

    And, of course, there's the hilarious Seven Days, where he uses a train (an SP train?) to obliterate a house.

    If you're not a fan of Buster Keaton's silent movies, well, all I can say is you should be... :)
    Hardcoaler and FriscoCharlie like this.
  2. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

    I'd like to see these films but I don't know if I can find them. Gunna give it a try.
  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    They can be found (irregularly) on the 'net. There was an outfit called, if I remember correctly, Kino International that remastered a lot of them, including all the ones I mentioned. I actually found them at the local library, so I could see them even where I couldn't buy them for the collection. Don't know if your local library got them, too, but it's worth a try...
  4. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Buster Keaton's "The General" is a must for anyone who is both a railfan and a film buff. I have another association in that my retired freight conductor Grandpa, who just passed away a little over a month ago, was a big Buster Keaton fan. I have a strong association in my mind with my railroad Grandpa and all those great old silents.

    I have a set released, I think, by Kino on DVD. I know our local public library has most of these for loan on DVD and some still on VHS. We have some good local rental places that have sections with silent comedies and such, too.

    Great stuff, with lots of dead-pan expression and physical comedy.

  5. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Jackie Chan says Buster is his primary inspiration. Don't know what greater recommendation I could give...
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    There were some incredibly talented folks back then. Some of the stunts were and still are good for keeping a person on the edge of their seat- Especially when it comes to railroads. I'd rather watch their works than the stuff of today with million dollar special effects.
  7. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Buster Keaton, I understand, came from a family of acrobats and performers and did almost all of his own stunts. Great stuff.

    The locomotives they run in these movies are often late-19th century models. They would have been getting surplused about that time. Even if someone thinks the humor is corny (sacrilege!) at least the locomotives would be cool to watch.
  8. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

    And don't forget the modern, but still silent, film (a Canadian filmshort produced in the 70's or 80's?) where in the first scene Buster wades out of the Atlantic Ocean, boards a speeder car to ride clean across the span of Canada, then after various comical incidents along the way in the final scene steps off the speeder and walks into the Pacific Ocean!

    As I recall, Buster suffered several severe injuries in filming some of his more incredible stunts...I think including a broken back at one point!

  9. PW&NJ

    PW&NJ TrainBoard Member

    You mean this one!

    In its entirety. And don't hesitate to watch it. It was posted by the copyright owner (The Canadian Film Board).
  10. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    That is a wonderful film, thank you very much for locating and posting it.
    I wish I had the same red box that he had, it sure would solve many problems. :tb-cool:
  11. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

    Yeah, back in the days when there was no need for extreme special effects. Just go out and get the real thing. They were blowing up real trains in so many films like Lawrence of Arabia and The Train with Bert Langcaster.
  12. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Tell you what. It's sure bigger than it looks.

    Could've sworn the CN had a little more traffic on it than that in those days.
  13. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    I always thought that, deep down, there was just about that much difference between the British and the Japanese. Must be something in tea.

    And, yes, Canada is that beautiful. So is the U.S. You just can't tell it from an airplane.
  14. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

    Sweet. Buster shot the climax of the general in Oregon. The soldiers where the Oregon national guard and The crashed loco was left until WWII when it was scrapped. A few years after that film was made, Buster had his head x-rayed and they found a healed break in his neck. Turns out he broke his neck in the scene where the water tower filler pored on him. I got to watch most of his films (including the talkies) as part of my major (also a lot of John Ford films).
  15. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Someone on imdb says Connie Mack had no idea that she was going to get drenched during that scene. So if her shock seems awfully genuine, there's a reason for that...

    I often wondered how they got the shots of the moving train from alongside. I didn't think camera trucks were smooth enough (or the roads, either) back then. Turns out they laid parallel tracks for some distance, and shot the scenes from a flatcar on a second train. Wish I could remember the site where I found that out; I'll post a link if my memory comes to my rescue.
  16. marty coil

    marty coil TrainBoard Supporter

    THE GREAT STONEFACE...One of the 3 'KINGS OF COMEDY of the silent era...Chaplin, Lloyd and Keaton. The film..The General...was made in Oregon. He was really funny!!!
  17. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Yeah, The Great Stoneface--though he wasn't. He was actually a fine actor, and his expressions often make his comedy. Like in The General when the boxcar he releases passes him on the siding while he's shoveling wood.

    He just didn't smile. Which was a great schtick.

    Just thought I'd bump this because if you're a railhead, you're a Keaton fan. You are. Whether you know it yet or not.

    That's a true story, except for one thing. That happened while filming a scene for Sherlock, Jr.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
  18. Jeepy84

    Jeepy84 TrainBoard Member

    I just watched the History Channel documentary about the Great Train Chase yesterday actually, I'm going to try hunting down The General this weekend.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
  19. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Don't do it expecting an accurate account of the actual events. No one even stops to create a 'Union bow tie' (heating the rail over a bonfire and bending it around a tree to make it useless for rebuilding the track). They were more interested in getting laughs than in providing a serious history lesson.

    But the film was made at a time when nineteenth century rolling stock was a dime a dozen on the used equipment market. In that respect it's a history lesson that cannot be equalled by today's filmmakers. And if it doesn't make you laugh, check your pulse.
  20. FriscoCharlie

    FriscoCharlie Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter


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